The volcano is impossible to miss when you enter Pucón. It is literally a volcano town, and the only place I’ve ever been where you can sit on the sand by the lakeside, look over your shoulder, and see a volcano.
Almost everyone in town will offer to take you up Villarrica. You can expect to pay between $40,000-$50,000 CHP. (Approx $80-$100 USD) In many cases you can organise this through your accommodation, but it’s important to look ahead at weather forecasts to ensure the weather is suitable on the day you want to climb. (Otherwise your trip may be prone to cancellation)
Approaching the volcano is pretty exciting, the 2,847m peak is active and puffs smoke from the cone.
There’s an optional chair lift for the first part of the climb, but you may choose to hike it yourself. Once you hit snow, there is a quick safety tutorial on using the ice-axe in case of a fall on the slope. The peak ascent is very steep but listening to the guides will keep you safe.
The ascent zig zags up until you see the cone which is a very cool feeling. Sulphur can be seen and smelt as you peek down into the cone of the volcano. Seeing lava is rare, but possible at the certain times.
Walking down would be for boring right? Well it’s lucky you get to slide down on your arse using a piece of plastic. Once you figure out the brake and acceleration technique, it is lots of fun. Watch your technique though, almost dislocated my shoulder doing this by clutching the axe too hard. Just relax and enjoy the ride.
Volcano Villarrica and Pucón is a 14 hour bus ride South of Santiago in Chile, but the trip is well worth it. An amazing experience that won’t break the bank.