Rukapillán (Mapuche for Villarrica) is the home of the Mapuche spirit, Pillán. The volcano seems to spew entirely too much smoke as you walk towards the peak. Ice crystals whiten the entire range of your vision and sting your face and you are forced to stare at your feet.
What to Do
Pucón is a lakeside town about 780 km to the south of Santiago, which is about an eight hour journey by car. Villarrica, one of Chile’s most active volcanoes, towers above Pucón. If you can make it to the top, it’s possible to view the Andean chain of stratovolcanos stretching east before staring down into the abyss of the lava lake. If the weather is okay, the climb is moderate, though our group had to turn around before we reached the summit. It’s possible to do the climb yourself, but there are some requirements, such as a mountaineering certificate from your home country. It is a tough thing to turn around when the peak seems so close (especially when you’re paying money for the tour), but if the weather turns bad you must turn around. Pillán is greater than you. You will end up freezing and/or eating your friends.
If the volcano is in a cloud, you Have a multitude of outdoor activities which vary based on the season. You could go rafting or kayaking, zip-lining across the canopy, horseback riding, regular hiking, fishing and more. You can always spend a day in one of the local hot springs.
Nearby you will find the Mapuche reservation Quelhue, and visiting it is a very worthwhile activity. These people are the hospitable descendants of the tribes of fearsome warriors who fought off the conquistadors for over 300 years.
Where To Stay
Pucón is an extremely popular travel location for both tourists and local Chileans. So you have a large assortment of lodging options available to you from cabañas (cabins), to hotels, hostels and even camping. Especially during the busy summer months of December-March it’s advisable to book in advance. . There are plenty of these, as well as hotels and cheap hostels to choose from. I’ve included some helpful links below. If possible, camping would be the best option, being that the natural environment is what makes Pucón Pucón. Planning these in advance may not be a bad idea; Tur-Bus offers deals on bus tickets to Pucón. The closest year round airport is in Temuco (670 km south of Santiago).
How to Get There
One easy alternative to get to Pucón is by bus.
Tur-Bus a larger bus company often offers deals on bus tickets to Pucón. You can also take a quick flight to the closest year round airport, Temuco (670 km south of Santiago), but it’s still another 2 hours by bus from there.