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South America > Chile > Southern Chile > Araucanía > Pucon

Pucon

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The centre of Pucon

Pucón is a small touristy town in the middle of the southern lake district in Chile.

Understand[edit]

Pucón is extremely popular both with Chileans and foreigners for the beautiful views of Volcano Villarrica and the climbing of the same, which is the highest and most-active climbable volcano in South America. Apparently, also the night-life is quite active. The city centre is a backpacker's Disneyland, filled with travel agencies offering a wide range of day trips. If you don't like it crowded, you'll be better off in the nearby town of Villarrica. January and February are the busiest months.

Nevertheless, the climbing of Volcano Villarrica is highly commercialised with only guided tours available (or you are a professional climber with a certification yourself), whose prices sky-rocketed in recent years considering the general easy of the trail and the "kind of people" that are allowed to do the climb. The local CONAF administration is fuelling this trend with only letting individuals climb the mountain that have a proper certification and equipment available. Local tour guides will even outright admit that the only reason for these rules are to force tourists into expensive guided tours.

  • 1 CONAF (Administration Parque National Villarica), 336 Lincoyán. M-F 08:30-18:30. Reliable information, maps and registration for all the national parks in the region. Non-committal and non-binding.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

Buses travel between Santiago and Pucón daily, many overnight. Tickets are scarce in summer, buy yours sufficiently ahead of your intended departure time.

  • Turbus. From Santiago 5 times a day, 11 hr 30 min. CLP$11,500-21,700.
  • Jac. From Santiago twice daily, 9 hr 23 min.

You can also take the bus from Valdivia, it takes 3hrs.

By plane[edit]

Pucón's airport operates only during summer (for regular flights); the flights from Santiago are expensive. The closest airport for the remainder of the year is Temuco, to which airlines do the flight in about one hour from Santiago or Puerto Montt. Temuco is about 1.5 hours away by road.

By train[edit]

Trains run to Temuco in summer (Dec-Feb), and only to Chillan at the rest of the year. Buses are better value.

By car[edit]

Driving from Santiago takes approximately eight hours and involves the passing of seven road tolls on the ruta 5, CLP$1600 each. The road from the turnoff to Pucón is paved and in good shape.

Mainly taxis to places out of town; the town is small enough to walk. Cycling is easy as they have put in cycle lanes along the main road. There are plenty of collectivo buses too and small public buses.

See[edit]

From Pucon's center there are stunning views of Volcan Villarrica, one of the most active volcanoes in Chile.

Do[edit]

Carburgua beach.
  • 1 Climbing Volcano Villarrica. Snowcapped Villarrica (2861 m) looms majestically over Pucón at 2,840 meters (9318 feet) above sea level. Climbing to the top is non-technical and, on clear days, easy. Thousands of people make the climb each year, most of them in January and February, taking in the spectacular views of Volcans Llaima, Choshuenco, Quetrupillán, Lanin, and Lonquimay in the horizon. Crampons, ice axe and/or trekking poles and warm windproof clothing are essential equipment year round. To be allowed to climb without a guide you must register with Conaf (in town), have your equipment checked and show proof of membership in a mountaineering organization in your home country. Most people start from the skiing area, where you can take the ski lift for the first 300 m. You can also start from near the refugio, at the Mirador Los Craters. From there the climb is longer, but for those carrying skis or snowboards, that means more riding when descending. Getting to the ski area or Mirador Los Craters is easy hitchhiking. Taxis in Pucón will gladly take you there as well. Most of guided excursions begin at around 07:00 but some agencies offer an earlier 05:00 start and you will get to reach the volcano alone with your team, avoiding the big crowds that arrive later. Agencies will provide equipment and transportation and cost around. Most guides won't go further up after 14:00 so get up early and don't waste too much time on your way up. Be sure to check how much money you'll get back if the climb is canceled due to bad weather. Recent tour prices see at the end of this chapter.
  • 2 Climbing Volcano Quetrupillan. Alternatively to the over-commercialised Volcano Villarrica, you can also visit Quetrupillan (2009 m) right behind it and shoot some great pictures of Villarrica and Lanin, which is even higher, at the border. This trek only requires registration with CONAF and a fee of CLP$5,000. The 1 trails starts from S-939, which is a side road of 199-CH between Pucón and Curarrehue. The latter is served by a bus. The trails here can be 2-5 days in length, depending on your route. From Quetrupillan it is possible to go back on the southern side of Volcano Villarrica or heading further southeast, which however can be quite muddy. Likewise you can start north at the foot of Volcano Villarrica and circle it west, south and east to head further to Quetrupillan. To find the trails, consult OpenStreetMap, which many mobile Apps like OsmAnd and MAPS.ME use. However, the trail circling Volcano Villarrica is not visible there. So, either way it is a good idea to obtain some non-committal information beforehand from the CONAF office in Pucón.
  • 3 Huerquehue National Park (buses go from Pucón). 09:00-15:00. A very beautiful and worth a visit national park in close reach of Pucón. Unfortunately, it seems you need to be in and out again between 09:00 and 15:00, which is quite a shame for the price you are supposed to pay and the beauty of the park. They have a camp ground at the 2 entrance of the national park. Nevertheless, it seems that the 3 eastern entrance and 4 northern entrance do not have any restrictions enforced, and a camp ground is available in the centre. To find all the trails and potential camp grounds, consult OpenStreetMap, which many mobile Apps like OsmAnd and MAPS.ME use. CLP$7000.
  • Huerquehue North Trail (Caburgua - Termas) (green) – Distance: 19.8 km, hilly to mountainous. Duration: 2-3 days. Grade: Easy to medium (climb to the mountain top viewpoint at 1,750 m can be difficult). Recommended: comfortable clothes and shoes for walking.
    In case you are looking for an inexpensive, more exciting and more challenging alternative to the overrun and overcommericalised Huerquehue National Park, check out this trail north of the national park. Great mountain slopes, wide grasslands, impressive forests with immense trees, and picturesque views of the mountains itself and surrounding ones and volcanoes.
    1) You start in Caburgua from where you take the road along the eastern side of the lake until you reach the beginning of the trail. Camp here or continue into the park where you can find further camping opportunities. 2) The next central spot of the trail in the Renahue Camping area, from you hike up to Mirador Renahue (Pass of decision). Here, you either can hike further and back into Huerquehue National Park or straight up the mountain to about 1750 m for picturesque views of the three closeby volcanoes of the region (Villarrica, LLaima, and Lanín). Consult OpenStreetMap, which many mobile Apps like OsmAnd and MAPS.ME use, for the continuing parts. 3) Back at Renahue Camping area, the trail continues to the termas at the eastern end of the trail—details for the termas see below. Take a dip into their refreshing and heating waters, and put up your tent or continue a little further for a free camp site.
    The are many camp sites along the trail, as you can see on OpenStreetMap. There are regular buses from Pucon to Caburgua for CLP$800. Getting out from the end of the trail (at the termas) is more complicated—in case you intend to hitch-hike, get out of the trail on a Saturday or Sunday when you will also get some weekenders traffic. Otherwise, there is not much local traffic towards Temuco from there and waiting/walking for 6 hr is not uncommon. The other direction back to Pucon, however, seems to be more frequented by cars. Or you decide to hike back south through the national park, or come in from the north (with bus or hitch) to begin with. Note, there are sometimes stray dogs along the trail—please read Chile#Stay safe.
    Download track: KMZ, GeoJSON, for GPX (incl. waypoints) see GPSies.
  • 4 Eco Termas Rio Blanca. Termas: CLP$5,000 per day. Camping incl. termas: CLP$8,000.
  • Skiing and snowboarding. The skiing area on Villarrica is open May until the beginning of October. Rent equipment in Pucón, or on the drive up to the ski slope. The highlight of the resort is its amazing views over the lake. It has 4 chairs and 3 T-bar lifts. The resort area goes from 4,527 ft to 5,314 ft, making a total drop of approximately 800 feet. The backcountry possibilities of the resort are great: with the help of a local guide you can ski to the Villarrica Volcano's summit, 9200 feet above sea level. The volcano often has good snow conditions up until November and the duration of the climb and descent is aproximately 9 hours, for advance skiers in good shape, but it's really worth the effort.
  • Golf. In "Peninsula", a residencial area downtown, there is a well maintained golf course with views of the Villarrica volcano and the lake surrounding the course. The course is officially for members only.
  • Horse back riding. This is a popular way to see the Mapuche settlements like Quelhue in the area. Tour agencies selling these tours are located all over the town. Check the conditions of the horses, as not all of them in good shape. Rides to "Salto el Claro" are in parts beside paved roads. Trustfull agencies are at Ecole and Politur.
  • Hike past the waterfalls and gurgling brooks in the Huerquehue National Park. Doing this will enable you to get to know the strange Araucaria (monkey puzzle) tree, as well as other native vegetation such as Coigües and Lingues. The trails pass view points where you can while away the time namedropping volcanoes and Andean peaks. Bring food and water because you might want to stay the whole day.
  • White water rafting and kayaking is a possibility in the glacier-fed Trancura River. Trancura Bajo offers third-degree rapids, good for beginners. Trancura Alto offers fourth-degree rapids and might require a little more courage. Tour agencies in the town will take you there.
  • Fishing. Guided fly-fishing excursions are held on the tranquil Río Liucura and the more turbulent Río Trancura. Both rivers offer scenery and trout.
  • Visit the Volcanic Caves at Villarrica Volcan.
  • Antilco Horse Farm. They have a couple options to stay in, a guest house that has two separate rooms sleeping a total of five people and a small cabana for two. They are very cosy self catering and slightly out of town, they will come and pick you up. Also outstanding horse riding and trips from there. Getting there is fun, you head over a small bridge on a dust track and then follow the river until you find their property.
Río Trancura.
  • [dead link] Rumbo Sur 360 Montañismo (Climbing Volcanoes and Mountains), Caupolican 635 Pucon (Colo colo 361), +56 45-443840. Great tours and experienced guides for climbing, scaling, reppelling or hiking the mountains and the most spectacular active volcanoes in the south of Chile.
  • Amity Tours (Amity Tours), +56 45 2444 574. Amity Tours has programs exploring the ancestral roots of the region with local specialized guides. They offer hiking trips in the national parks, road cycling, volcano-climbing, horse-back riding, insight into the local flora and fauna, ethnic discovery, trips to hot springs, and skiing on active volcanoes.
  • Thermal Springs Los Pozones, Km.36 Pucón - Huife Alto (there is a bus that leaves from Pucon (calle Palguín 555) at 13:30 and comes back at 18:30), e-mail: . 5 natural pools next to the river, water around 30-40ºC with a beautiful setting, especially during winter (snow around you).
  • [dead link] Seeking South Day Tours/Llama Trekking, Fundo el mirador del Claro s/n, +56 975733070, e-mail: . Hiking in national parks in the Lake & Volcano District. Private and day tours to Conguillio, VIllarrica and Huerquehue National Parks. Seeking south is a guide-owned company that believes in sustainability: enviromental, economic and social. They try to reduce the impact in all the activities that they perform, sharing proftis with everyone involved.

Some official guided tour prices as of Mar 2018:

  • Climbing Volcan Villarrica: US$130-165
  • Rafting Alto (i.e. higher level): US$38-46
  • Termas Geométricas: US$63
  • Termas Los Pozones: US$38
  • Parque National Huerquehue: US$74
  • Canyoning: US$46

Buy[edit]

Money[edit]

  • 2 BancoEstado. M-F 09:00-14:00. Exchanges US dollars at more competitive rates than all the other little money exchanges in town and is also less critical of the quality of your bills. You need a passport to exchange money.

Eat[edit]

Caburgua waterfalls.
  • Ecole, Urrutia St. A good vegetarian restaurant.
  • La Maga, Fresia St (close to Pucón Square and Church). Mouthwatering Argentinian barbeque. Book ahead in summer.
  • [dead link] Latitude 39, Geronimo de Alderete 324, +56 9 743 000 16, e-mail: . Opened in 2008 and operated by an American couple, Rob and Monica.
  • Pizza Cala, Lincoyan 361, +56 45 463 024. Some of the best brick oven pizza in town. Also has a full bar with international TV sports.
  • Restaurant Parque Antumalal, Km 2 Camino Pucón-Villarrica, +56 45 441011, e-mail: . Upscale restaurant at Hotel Antumalal with views over the lake. Prior reservations only, no walk-ins.
  • Viva Peru, Lincoyan 372 St, +56 45 444025. Amazing Peru food - try the fish.

Drink[edit]

  • Mamas and Tapas Bar Restaurant. Great Place, Good Food (tacos!) and Music

Ohiggins 597 Pucon Chile - Fono +56 45-449 002 - mail info@mamasytapas.cl.

Sleep[edit]

Due to being extremely popular for its volcano, there do exist many accommodation options in Pucón and prices are considerably lower than elsewhere.

Budget[edit]

  • Gecko Hostel, Lincoyan 740 (Right near the roundabout at the entrance to Pucón), +56 985881400, e-mail: . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 10:00. Not that central but very friendly and comfortable. Ask to pay in US dollars with the online price to save the VAT. Dorm from US$10.
  • La Bicicleta, Palguin 361, +56 45 44 45 83. Owned by friendly Chilean, Jose. Nice, relaxing, with wooden decks and views of volcano. Central, close to O'Higgins Street. Choice of doubles, singles and dorms. CLP$10,000.
  • [dead link] Hostal El Refugio, 540 Palguin (Opposite Pullman Bus Terminal), +56 45 441596. Warm and friendly hostel, excellent place for meeting others in the inviting communal areas. Facilities include a well-equipped kitchen, several fireplaces, free Internet and tea and coffee all day. The owners and staff are friendly and have a wealth of information. Both dorms and private rooms (even one with private fireplace). Dorm, CLP$10,000; double, CLP$11,000.
  • [dead link] Hostal RumboSur, Colo Colo 361 (2 blocks from TURBUS bus station. From O´Hoggins make a right onto Colo Colo St, continue 50 m until the big yellow house), +56 45 44 38 40. Check-out: 11:00. This charming updated farmhouse has views of the mountains and the Villarica Volcano. There is an option for private suites for families or groups, or spacious dormitory-style rooms. All have comfortable extra-long warm beds and central heating for the cold winter nights. From CLP$9,000.
  • [dead link] Nativa Hostel, calle Palguín 695 (2 doors from JAC bus station), +56 45 441426. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. The hostel has a spacious and cozy living room with TV, DVD, sound system, and free Internet. The rooms have comfortable and clean beds that include pillow, sheets, and blankets. Storage for luggage. The kitchen and dining room are fully equipped for you to cook and eat comfortably. The bathroom is clean and has toilet paper, 24-hour hot water for the showers. You will only have to bring your own towels. Open air terrace with a BBQ and beach chairs on the second floor. CLP$10,000.
  • Paradise Pucon Hostel, Colo Colo 92, +56 45 44 37 33. This lovely little hostel is in a quiet neighborhood a short walk from town. Close to the beach on the lake, lots of common space, including a cozy fireplace for winter and hammock for the summer, this hostel offers great, personalized service. The friendly staff can help you with travel arrangements.
  • [dead link] Tree House Hostel, General Urrutia 660 (Central location. A 5-minute walk from the main bus terminal, 1 block from the main street, 4 blocks from the beach), +56 45 444679, e-mail: . Hammocks, coffee, DVDs, maps, reliable Villarrica volcano guides, and a wooden tree house with a nice view of the crater.

Mid-range and splurge[edit]

  • Grand Hotel Pucon. A large hotel on the lake shore with great views of the lake or volcano. It is likely the oldest and most famous hotel in town and it shows. While clean, the rooms, bathrooms and facilities are very dated. The staff speak a little English. US$150.
  • Hotel Antumalal (Km2 Camino Pucón-Villarrica, 2km south of the city centre), +56 45 2 441011, e-mail: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Hotel and spa nestled in 5 hectares of private gardens on the Villarrica lake edge. The unique setting merges natural beauty with style and personalized service.
  • Portal Pucon. Excellent place with views of the lake for an excellent price (2 bedroom, 1 bath cabañas). Cabana US$72.

Go next[edit]

Should Pucon start to feel a bit too touristy, hop on a mini bus and make the 20 minute trip to the little city of Villarrica. It has a population of about 46,000 and escapes the tourist trappings of Pucon.

However, most people will probably decide to head further to either Concepción or Valdivia.


This city travel guide to Pucon is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.