When you want
to leave the crazy nights and crowded streets of Santiago behind, then
it is time to head south, towards ancient woods, drizzling rain and
magnificent nature. The south of Chile is one of the most impressive
sceneries I have ever seen: In between huge lakes and trees, that are so
high they seem like mountains, there is still space for a handful of
active volcanoes, black sand beaches and hot springs. A few tips for
what not to miss, when in Pucon:
The active volcano Villarica is almost 3000 meters high and dominates the impressive panorama of Pucon. You can see it from basically everywhere in the town and you can actually climb it. This is not an afternoon stroll, but an actual hike, including climbing over glaciers for a while and tours being cancelled from time to time, because it is too dangerous.
But if you are adventourus enough this is one of the most impressive demonstrations of the power of Chile´s nature. The view, the combination of glaciers and an active volcano center, all of these are experiences really should not be missed.
Visit a national park
There are a number of national parks around Pucon and they are all equally fascinating. You can walk up and down mountains, jump into riverbeds and overlook ancient lakes. In many of them you can also camp for the complete wildlife experience. There is such a huge abundance of water in this area, so will not only pass loads of little rivers and lakes, but it is very likely that you will also come across waterfalls.
If you are like me and you have barely ever seen a mountain, some of the ways might be too steep and challenging for you, but at least after this great workout you will sleep like a baby.
Hop on a horse and explore the Auracania
The woods around Pucon are some of the oldest that exist. Most of them are left in their natural state, meaning there are huge old fallen trees rotting away and all kinds of plants growing everywhere. Maybe not necessarily perfect for a walk, but on a horse it is an amazing experience. Look for a guide who really knows the forest and then be enchanted by trees older than your family line and absolute silence and serenity, when you reach the higher regions, where the holy tree of the indigenous Mapuche grow: the very strange looking Araucania.
Spend a day in nature´s spa
Thanks to the active volcanoes in the region, there are a lot of hot springs in and around Pucon. The rather chilly climate even in the summer months january and february make a dip in a hot pool sound perfect especially since it is usually drizzling all day. If you want to visit the most famous ones the Termas Geometricas plan a day trip, it takes about one hour from the centre of Pucon and you will need some time to explore the huge spa with over 20 natural hot pools. Especially after long days of walking up and down mountains this is perfect to relax your sore muscles.
Enjoy German pastries and "Kuchen"
Out of all the places, who would have thought that in a little town in the south of Chile about 12.000 km away from Germany you can find some of the best German desserts? In the middle of the 19th centuries loads of Germans, Austrians and Swiss people migrated to Chile, thanks to the very cheap land prices for European settlers. Sadly this was all carried out on the shoulders of the indigenous Mapuche, whose lands were taken from them to offer them to the Europeans. This fact enables you to find Apple Strudel and other German specialities even in the tiniest cafés in Pucon. The Chileans love the German desserts so much that they use the german word for cake "Kuchen" everywhere in the region. So if you are German and you are homesick or if you have never had German desserts, this is your chance now!
Buy souvenirs or your cuttlery
The huge Feria Artesanal in the middle of Pucon and countless little ones along the streets around Pucon offer local and often indigenous art for very good prices. Sure there is some trumpery as well, but next to this you find wonderful wooden plates and cuttlery, that is crafted masterly and that you will never find for such a good price again. If you want to take a traditional piece of Pucon with you opt for the flowers made entirely of wood, but looking light as a feather.