After a 12 hour night bus I made it to Pucon, home of adventure activities and the volcano Villarrica that erupted 10 months ago. I arrived to an email to say they were climbing the volcano on the 11th due to bad weather predicted for the 12th 😦 As I had only just arrived and it was 2pm there was no chance. Next good day was Saturday and maybe Friday. I paid a visit to the office and booked on and got measured up for my gear. I’m ready to go!
I spent the day looking around the town and walking around the lake. As I had no reservation I was placed in the Harry Potter room……basically a bunk bed wedged under the stairs. It was fine for one night and then moved to a shared room with a bottom bunk. WIN! It’s amazing how excited you get about having this luxury. The hostel was great with a good kitchen and spacious rooms with lake view and also of the volcano. The staff were also great.
In an attempt to save money due to the cost of the Volcano hike I opted for cheap meals that I cooked and cheaper activities such as the national park. With a 5am wake up call I got my bag and walks to the office of summit Chile for my volcano adventure. Friday 13th turned out not to be so lucky as the clutch on the van broke and we were turned round due to cloud cover and wind conditions on top of the volcano. With a speed run back to the hostel to grab my money I mad it to the 8.30am bus to the national park where I met up with a bunch from the hostel including Ned, a tree surgeon from Milton Keynes.
The park was stunning with great views of the lakes which I later saw from the top of the volcano. The clouds clears and a great day had preparing my legs for the volcano climb the following day. More pasta and another trip to the shops to re stock on my day supplies and an early night. I did enjoy my audition for Peter pan though.
Huerquehue National Park (Spanish pronunciation: [werˈkewe]) is located in the foothills of the Andes, in the Valdivian temperate rainforest of the La Araucanía region in southern Chile. The park encompasses 125 square kilometres (12,500 Ha) of mountainous terrain east of Caburgua Lake, and has an elevation range of 720 to 2,000 m asl.
Huerquehue is a Mapudungun word (the language of the Mapuche people) that means “the messenger’s place”. One of the most noteworthy features of Huerquehue National Park are its ancient Araucaria (Araucaria araucana) forests, the tree commonly known as “monkey puzzle”. These are the backdrop for the clear lakes and lagoons that dot the park, including Tinquilco Lake, which lies in the lower portion of this protected area.
Saturday was clear and sunny so we started our 5?hour hike up the volcano with strict instructions on how to lock our knees for resting steps, walk sideways and use our ice axe for support if we fall down the volcano. We had several after and fuel stops but the top never got any closer although it looked as if it as so obtainable. The views were stunning and as we reached the top the clouds covered the base of the volcano like a duvet making the active smoking volcano even more impressive and imposing over Pucon below. There were moments when I just could not look at the view as the climb was soo steep it seemed to turn the world upside down and made me feel quite dizzy. I don’t have a fear for heights but I do when all there is below is a cloud and white snow as far as you can see.
we reached the crater and it was just awesome to be on the edge smelling the fumes that literally took your breath away. As the fumes passed across with the wind every ounce of breath was taken from you and I could only imagine this is what it would be like to be taken by the dementours in Harry Potter. Fitting as I was living under the stairs!
Villarrica is one of Chile’s most active volcanoes. It is also known as Rucapillán, a Mapuche word meaning “House of the Pillán” or “House of the spirit”. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain along the Gastre Fault. Villarrica, along with Quetrupillán and the Chilean portion of Lanín, are protected within Villarrica National Park.
We witnessed lava flows from the eruption in 1971 and the chair lift that was totally destroyed. I humbling sight of the power of Mother Nature. Then again I am in the worlds most active country for earthquakes and volcano. That is how the Andes was formed so makes sense I guess.
We made our return via our bums. Yep we got kitten up in our trousers, bum protectors and ice picks and were given a tutorial of how to control our speed. And we were off…zooming down the 2850m volcano pretty much down 1500 meters to where the snow stops. 5 hrs up and 1 hour down whoohoo. The climb was worth it just for the slide down. I loved every minute of it.
I returned to the hostel where there were talks of a BBQ so we jumped I a car got communal bread, salad etc ohh and wine and had a feast using all the left overs as I headed off the following day. One thing lead to another and I found my self in a bar drinking piscola, pisco of and cola in a club where we danced the night away until 4pm.
10.10am was a harsh wake up call as needed to check out at 10.30am. Good job most of the hostel staff were there too so no worries. I packed my bag had a leisurely morning burning off hang over and chatting to my mum and then went for a stroll along the black beach before getting my night bus to Valparaiso. I’ve heard so much but not sure what to expect from the city.