One of South America’s Coolest Activities – Hiking Villarrica Volcano.
Imagine pushing your physical boundaries by climbing and zigzagging up South America’s most active Volcano in the morning and by noon you are on top of its snowy cone looking down into a smoky crater. If you’re lucky, you may see some hot lava spitting out of it’s boiling core, while feeling the heat on your face as if you were standing around a big bonfire. And to top it all off, you get to start your descent down on a luge-like slide for a couple of km’s while enjoying a fantastic view of fluffy clouds floating over the tree filled valleys, large lakes, and snow-covered volcanos in the far off distance.
I know it’s not possible to see everything in Chile, but if you have the time you don’t want to miss sliding down Volcano Villarrica! Even the town of Pucón itself is worth a visit. There is a lot of outdoor activities to do here such as hiking in Huerquehue National Park, rafting, horseback riding, canyoning, and some other lake activities.
The weather must be in your favor for all of the activities. Especially for doing the Volcano climb. It is best to climb Villarrica Volcano as a group with experienced guides. The climb is very steep, and you must walk along the glacier which has a lot of dangerous crevasses.
Cost And Whats Included In A Typical Tour Volcano Tour.
A guided tour cost around $120USD. Most tours include transportation to the base of the Volcano (45 minutes), an Icepick, crampons, Gortex-lined jacket/pants, a gas mask, hiking boots, a helmet, a backpack. And most importantly a plastic spoon-like device that you put between your legs so you can slide down the Volcano.(so much fun!)
I booked my Volcano tour with the hostel that I stayed at called Chilli Kiwi Hostel. I strongly recommend both Chili Kiwi Hostel and the tour they provided. But you do have a lot of shops in town that also sell the tour, and Pucón has a lot of hostels. I always check out the reviews on Hostelworld and Trip Advisor for the most recent opinions.
Villarrica Volcano Climb.
The night before the Volcano climb our group had a brief meeting with Rodrigo who was one of our guides. He went through everything we would be doing and told us exactly what to bring. Then we had time to ask him questions about the hike.
The tour started at the hostel around 6:00 a.m. with a meeting in the backyard. We tried on our boots and inspected all our gear. Then we packed into a couple of vans and headed to the base of the Volcano (45minutes). Before we started the climb, the guides gave us a few safety tips and showed us how to use the icepicks.
We began the steep ascent following the path made by the guides that were leading. The hike is a bit challenging, but we stopped approximately every hour for 5-10 minutes for water and food.
When we were just about at the top, we put on our gas masks to protect us from the smoke(Sulfur). Then we went to the top to take pictures around the crater. We were not lucky enough to see lava but the group that went the next day saw a lot of it.
Due to safety concerns, the Chilian law only allows people to be on top of the crater for a maximum of 10 minutes. The gasses coming from the volcano are very harmful. And lava is only seen sometimes, so it’s the luck of the draw.
Then came the best part! Sliding down the Volcano. We put on our Gortex pants, and one by one we slid down the side of Villarrica. We used our ice picks for steering and braking. It was so much fun and made all the work of hiking up worth it.
We got to the bottom then headed back to the hostel to return our gear and have a beer with the guides.
How Long Does It Take?
Typically it takes 3-4 hours to climb the 2,847 m Villarrica Volcano, and about 1 hour to slide down. Sometimes it can get very windy on the way up. But you will have all the right gear and a few knowledgeable guides to keep you motivated. This tour only runs if the weather is good.
Pucón is a small town located 100km southeast of Temuco and 780km South of Santiago. If you arrive on a sunny day, you will be amazed at the stunning view of Volcano Villarrica in the distance. Pucón is a great town to spend a few nights. If you don’t want to do any of the outdoor sports, it’s still a perfect place to relax and get recharged.
Pucón has a lot of excellent restaurants and cafes to try. And if you are a coffee fan you don’t want to miss Patagonia coffee. They roast their coffee beans right in the cafe! There are also two grocery stores and a mecca of tourist agencies that all sell adventure packages.
How To Get There.
If you have any questions about Pucón or The Villarrica Volcano climb, feel free to send me an e-mail at email@example.com or leave a comment below. Thanks for dropping in!