Untold Tales 16: Fire and Ice, Pucon, Chile

Volc Pano

Before I visited Chile I’d no real idea what to expect. I’d heard of the capital Santiago, and of the famous Torres Del Paine National Park in the south. Not much at all. But in Santiago I learned you could hike up an active volcano in the area known as the Lake District. It sounded fun. Of course, I had to go.

What I found in the lakeside town of Pucón was one of the most picturesque, laid back places I’d ever been. From anywhere in town, the views of the myriad lakes and mountains were lovely. But one presence loomed over the place like no other; The towering volcano, Villarica. In Spanish the name means ‘rich village.’ I’m not sure if Pucón is rich financially, but it abounds in other riches…peace, serenity, scenery and a lifestyle to be envied.

Hiking Panoramic

The hike itself was fairly easy. Sun reflected dazzlingly off the snow and ice, and the air was so clear at the 2,840 summit I could see for many miles. The four hour ascent went by in no time. Villarica is active, and in the crater noxious lava bubbled menacingly, the smell of sulphur overwhelming. A few seconds peering into the feisty crater was more than enough for this nomad.

Fire in the hole

What I didn’t know was that there were two options for descent. A casual two hour hike down. Or…a one hour-scary-crazy-slide-on-your-bum type descent, using man-made ice chutes and your pick-axe for a brake. Now, I love hiking. But that sounded too fun to miss.

sledding

One hour, and a sore bum later, I was drinking a cold beer at the foot of a broody, active volcano. Yet another great day on the road!

Pucon and Volcano I

Volcano I

Aerial view courtesy of wikimedia.org

Sled image courtesy of kevindelrosso.blogspot.com

All other images by the Nomad.

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