Traveling through Chile - Pucon Chile

Pucón was the most touristy of the cities we visited while in Chile; it reminded us a lot of Sun Valley, ID or Park City, UT. It lies as the base of the Villarrica volcano and alongside Lake Villarrica and boasts lots of outdoor activities including fishing, hiking, kayaking, boating, skiing, and zip lining and subsequently attracts wealthy Chileans. On the road through the city of Villarrica to Pucon lie multi-million dollar homes (Idaho prices) in gated communities. The city has numerous upscale restaurants and stores, many of which were out of our moderate budget. Chocolate shops and bakeries were plentiful and surprisingly quite reasonably priced.

Villarrica Volcano from the air

The Villarrica volcano is active and constantly emits a wisp of steam. The steam is actually a welcome sign as it means the volcano is relieving pressure and shouldn’t erupt anytime soon. The city of Pucón keeps close track of the volcano activity by numerous seismic sensors and by watching steam emissions. On what we considered to be City Hall was a traffic signal; when the light was green all was safe with the volcano, yellow light signals some sort of disturbance to the normal state of the volcano, and a red light means that you should immediately leave town. The volcano has erupted twice since the mid-'60s and when it erupts the lava flow heads down the volcano the opposite direction of Pucón. One nice side benefit of the area being thermally and seismically active are the numerous hot springs in the area.

We had an American contact in Pucón, Keri, and she made our visit there a bit easier and brought us up to speed on some Chilean customs and the Chilean way of life. Fortunately for us, Keri’s husband secured a cabin for us; and mentioned if three foreigners had shown up to rent a cabin in the tourist, trap that is Pucón, we would have been charged an additional 40 percent. During our days in there we ventured out to the suggested Ojos Del Caburgua, Playa Blanca, and Huerquehue National Park. The Ojos Del Caburgua (the eyes of Caburgua) are three waterfalls in the middle of a temperate rainforest. We attempted to visit the Ojos first, but missed the turn off (there is a toll booth we were trying to avoid); we hear it is beautiful there and were sad we didn’t make it there. We then drove to Playa Blanca (white beach) on Lake Caburgua; all the other beaches in the area have dark sand from volcanic activity, so the white sand beach is somewhat of an oddity for the area. The crystal-clear warm water on a rare white beach was a welcome sight to Idahoans traveling through the area in the midst of our long, cold winter.

Lake Caburgua

Pucon Part B

Back to Traveling Throughout Chile


Travel, DeLorme, Garmin, ToyotaKrista Johnston is the Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of Living Overland. Krista is an avid outdoor enthusiast who enjoys exploring National Parks, fly fishing, and hiking with her husband (Beau) and their two dogs.


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