Pucon, Chile: Everything I Did
I spent a total of 4 nights and 3 full days in Pucon. This little city in Chile reminds me a lot of Lake Tahoe with all of its wooden buildings and activities centered around tourism. There isn't much else to this place besides tourism, which is a bit of a turn off but the town was still really fun and cute and I had a great time. Here's everything about my trip:
11 Hours Bus Ride
Andesmar | $21,000 CLP ($32 USD)
I took an overnight bus from Santiago, Chile. I left at 10:45pm and got in at around 9:45am the next day. There are tons of buses making this trip but the cheapest I found, leaving on a Friday night. This is probably the best way to get to Pucon, unless you have a car, because the closest airport to fly into is Puerto Montt but that's still about 4 hours away from Pucon to the south. If you're anything like me, you'll sleep through the entire bus ride and wake up just in time to have a full day in Pucon.
Chili Kiwi Hostel - #1 Hostel in Chile 2016
6 Bed Dorms | $1,100 CLP ($19 USD)
Quick story: I was going to volunteer here for a few weeks mid-January but there was a miscommunication. I was waiting to hear back from them about confirming to come January 11th and I kept checking my email because you get an email notification every time you receive a message vis workaway. I waited awhile and didn't hear anything until the first week of January when I got an email that said they had tried emailing me multiple times but didn't hear from me so they had to give my spot away. I was pretty bummed because I didn't know they had emailed me back but I definitely understood. Even funnier was that when I was in Santiago, I met someone who told me to stay here and I told him the story and he goes "Omg you are that girl! I was sitting right next to the owner when she sent that email to you! She was so excited for you to come." It was so funny! Such a small world.
The hostel is pretty awesome! It's lakefront so you get the best view of the water, volcano, sunset, etc. This was a hostel made for backpackers, by backpackers because they thought of everything you could ever need while traveling. For example, they had ample amounts of bathrooms, which is always a huge problem in many hostels, they had 3 different kitchens, NON-STICK PANS, I repeat non-stick pans (like what?? first for everything), an introduction to everything Pucon (activities, recommendations, food/drinks, etc), a bar, comfy beds with a duvet, and awesome helpful stuff. They did win best hostel in Chile for a reason...
Newentours | $80,000 CLP ($120 USD)
I already wrote a separate post about this hike so you can read there for more details but this will be a cliffs notes version. This hike the the #1 tourist attraction in Pucon, especially on beautiful sunny days it will be booked out. The costs ranges from $75,000 to $95,000 CLP or $114 - $144 USD. To be honest, there isn't much difference between any tours because they pretty much do the same trips so just try to book the cheapest one possible. You will be in a group of 8 - 10 people with 3 - 4 guides each. They provide transportation there and back plus all the gear you'll need to climb the volcano and slide down it. It took about 4. - 4.5 hours to get to the very top, mostly hiking in snow/ice, and then you slide down, which is SO MUCH FUN.
It was cool to hike up an active volcano and to also slide down but I can't still say I can justify the price I paid. It was definitely a good experience but not THE absolute best thing I've ever done. So if you are short on money, you can skip this is do other free/cheaper things.
Termas Geometricas (Hot Springs)
via Hostel | $33,000 CLP ($50 USD)
After a long hike up the volcano, a relaxing day in the hot springs was exactly what I needed. Geometricas is a man made hot springs in really secluded area about 1.5 - 2 hours away from the center of Pucon. It's a bit pricey - $25,000 CLP or $38 USD for entrance. It was absolutely breathtaking! They definitely did a great job designing the place, giving it a very natural and relaxing atmosphere. They had pools ranging from 34 to 44 degrees celsius and also two waterfalls, they were freezing so we were only in there to snap some pictures and got out real quick. The perfect temperature to relax in for me at least was 36 degrees. I went into the 44 one and also the freezing waterfall but I could have stayed in 36 the entire time.
It was also the best afternoon to be there because it started raining and the cold rain fall on you while you're submerged in warm/hot water felt absolutely amazing! I would definitely recommend going on a cold or rainy day in Pucon when you can't do much else in the city.
The only downside was that we were only there for 3 hours. I wish we had more time because by the time we changed and walked through the place, about an hour is already gone. If we wanted to eat, that would take even more time. I think leaving an hour earlier and allowing us to have 4 hours there would have been perfect, especially for how expensive the place is. You can also get there by public transportation but you would still have to walk about 2 km to get there, which does not sound fun at all, or drive yourself but since it's 4 hours of driving total it would only make sense to do it if you can fill a full car.
I went with a few people from my hostel that I met that day - 2 Brits, 2 Germans, & 1 Canadian. We all pretty much stayed together the entire time and it was pretty nice. I ended up making dinner with the 2 Brits and we had a cute little family dinner with some pasta and salad plus red wine. Can't beat that!
Hiked Through Huerquehue National Park (San Sebastian Trail)
Bus + Entrance | $3,600 CLP ($5.50) + $5,000 ($7.50) = $8,600 CLP ($13 USD)
After spending so much money the past few days, I wanted to do something cheaper and the best option was doing a hike to see all 7 volcanos in the National Park. The two Brits, Stanley and Ian, and a German, Lukas, came with me to do the hike. There are only 2 buses that go there - 8:30am and 1:30pm. We obviously took the 8:30am bus that took about an hour to get to the park and costed $3,600 CLP for round trip. The bus coming back only leaves at 2:10pm, 5:10pm, or 7:10pm.
We did the hardest trail they had - San Sebastian. We had to fill out name on a sheet and put tags on our bags just in case something were to happen and they had to find us. It was awesome hike! We went through a ton of different terrane, climbed up rocks, hiked through slippery areas, walked through open fields, etc. It was breathtaking at every turn! Once you get to the top, you get an amazing view of all the lakes and volcanos surrounding the area. This was a much more difficult hikes than others I've done. I would probably rate this a 8.75 out of 10. However, compared this to the volcano, I enjoyed a lot more, or at least I wasn't as tired. I was perfectly fine the entire way up and felt normal instead of out of breath so now I can blame the altitude.
This was the first ever hike one of the guys did and I think we converted him! He's super excited to do more and instead of heading back to Santiago, he is going to keep going down south to do more hikes.
The entire hike took us about 6.5 hours with a 30 minute break or so at the top. I walked a total of 14 miles, 33,000 steps, and 308 floors.
via Hostel | $5,000 ($7.50) per Kayak
The best place to watch the sunset and get the best view of the volcano is around the peninsula but you can't walk there on land because it's private property so the only way is on water. We were on a time crunch since getting back into the city, getting food for the kayak, making it, and everything in between we didn't leave until about 8:30pm for a 9:15pm sunset. We made a huge bowl of guacamole, chips, and 3 giant bottles of red wine for 5 people.
I lucked out and got stuck with holding the guac which meant I just enjoyed the ride and didn't have to do any of the work. It took us about 15 minutes to kayak out into the tip of the peninsula and we found a nice area right by the water with chairs and tables. Obviously they belonged to one of the houses in the back but we didn't care. If they kicked us out then we'll just leave and go elsewhere.
It was so much fun talking, eating, laughing, drinking, taking pictures, etc. definitely the perfect way to end a few days in Pucon. I made some great friends and hoping they will meet me in Bariloche, Argentina! I will post pictures once they get edited and I find better wifi... but it reminded me so much of hanging out at a cabin by the lake in Tahoe.
Funny Part 1: a security guard came over to us and basically tell us that we had to leave but we told him none of us spoke English or Spanish. I was from Vietnam and only spoke Vietnamese and the other 4 were Germans who didn't speak any English (very unlikely) but it was HILARIOUS! I would mix in Vietnamese words with broken English while the others spoke German with broken English. It made him so confused but such a good plan.
Funny Part 2: again I was sitting in the middle and didn't have to do any of the work and the German girl, Paulina, was in front, while Ian was in the back. I swear to god, they were arguing about which way to paddle and how to paddle for a good 45 minutes. We just kept spinning in circles in the middle of the water while the other two were just laughing at us and finishing up the last bit of wine. I just sat there laughing since I couldn't contribute much and they were just going at it "No to the left" "No the right!" "You have to listen to me" "Okay I'm not going to paddle anymore" just back and forth.