Discovering Pucón: Home of Adventure Activities in Chile

On the face of it, Pucón may seem like just a sleepy picturesque town nestled in the heart of Chile’s lake district on the shores of Lake Villarrica. With its quaint wooden buildings and panoramic views of the imposing Villarrica volcano, you may be fooled into thinking that Pucón is known for its aesthetics and little else. In reality, this charming facade hides Chile’s biggest adventure tourism hub!

pucon2
source: BioBioChile

Thrill seekers flock from miles around to get their adrenaline kicks in this little town. With whitewater rafting, skiing, canyoning, and for the most courageous, even paragliding, there is plenty to keep the most adventurous of travellers entertained.

Lake Villarrica

Any traveller’s first stop when arriving in Pucón must surely be a visit to the stunning Lake Villarrica. On a clear day, the vibrant blue sky and water, along with the greenery all around, the bright white of the snow-capped volcano peeking out from behind, and the black of the dramatic volcanic sand make for a rather impressive photo. However, the lake is more than just a pretty picture. It is also home to many exciting activities.

Kayaking on the lake is pleasant and idyllic. With the views of the volcano, the natural beauty of the scenery, and the wildlife that surround it, only the sounds of gentle splashes of your paddles can be heard. You can hire kayaks or duckys (inflatable kayaks) from vendors along the beach in high season, or book your session in advance to avoid hassle during your trip. If you want to try something a little different, check out the SUP options. On a Stand-Up Paddleboard, you are free to paddle, play and explore the lake as you please. Be warned, you may fall into the water, but a dip in the glacier-fed lake is not too harsh a punishment!

sup2 source: Antupucon

If you’re looking for more of an adrenaline rush, you can also rent jet skis by the quarter hour, half hour or a full hour from various places along the beach. If you share the cost with a friend you can ride together, taking it in turns to command the powerful vehicle across the glassy waters of the lake, making quite the splash!

Parasailing and Paragliding

Sailing high above the lake, you may see the bright colours of a parasail or paraglider. For panoramic views of the Pucón’s quaint town centre as well as a whole new angle of the Villarrica volcano above it, there really is nothing better! For a parasailing trip, you will be dragged through the breeze by a motorboat in the lake below you, while with a paragliding experience, you will simply jump off of the Barda mountain above the lake and let your canopy and the winds do all the work for you.  Flying high through the skies above the lake is one of the greatest pleasures available to travellers in Chile.

parasail source: Culture Trip

Trancura River

Once your two feet are back firmly on solid land, be sure to check out the activity for which Pucón is most famous: white water rafting. Walking down Avenida O’Higgins in the centre of the small town, you won’t be able to go very far without seeing various operators of rafting activities and prices, book your rafting activity with a vetted operator before you travel to be sure not to miss out!

The Bajo rafting is on a lower part of the Trancura river and offers a gentler experience on class III rapids, while the Alto activity is for the real thrill seekers who want to take on the higher section of the river. If you choose this option, your guide will expertly steer you down class IV and V rapids, with intimidating names such as El Feo (The Ugly) or La Puerta del Infierno (Door of Hell).

The gushing rivers around Pucón also offer a wealth of other outdoor pursuits that keen adrenaline seekers will be sure to enjoy. You can try out a canyoning activity where you will have the chance to rappel next to waterfalls, jump from various heights, and slide down fast-flowing rapids. Alternatively, have a go at hydrospeed, a wild and energetic water sport, which involves riding the class II and III rapids on a body-board and really feeling at one with the water as you weave in and out of the currents.

If you’ve had enough of the water sports, try a canopy activity, zip-lining through the forests and over the top of the world-renowned speedy rapids of the Trancura river.

trancura source: TripAdvisor

Thermal Hot Springs

Even the most adventurous of adrenaline junkies need to take some time to relax. Fortunately, Pucón also has many opportunities for that, with the iconic Termas Geométricas hot springs only a two-hour bus ride away, on the other side of the volcano. These baths boast 20 pools and two waterfalls all along 450m (about a quarter of a mile) of the ravine surrounded by lush vegetation. The natural hot springs are combined with cold ones to create several pools of varying temperatures – ranging from 35°C to 45°C (95°F to 113°F).

Throughout the middle of the ravine is a bright red continuous boardwalk made of coigüe wood, allowing you securely walk all the way around the baths, enjoying the wonderful scenery and choosing your favourite out of the many pools to have a dip.

There are of course many more bathing options closer to Pucón in the form of Thermal Spas, such as Termas Quimey-co. Boasting three pools rich in the salts and minerals that come from the bottom of the earth, they are known to renew and soften your skin. Alternatively, only 20 minutes from Pucón, right in the heart of the Curarrehue Valley, there are the Termas Montevivo. With outdoor and indoor pools ranging from 20°C to 39°C (68°F to 102°F) its location is perfectly situated surrounded by mountains.

termaspucon source: Ruta Chile

Villarrica Volcano

Of course, a trip to Pucón would not be complete without a trip to the Villarrica volcano that poses in the background of the rustic town. Volcano Villarrica is an active volcano with an altitude of 2,847 meters (9,340 feet) and a crater, only 200 meters (656 feet) in diameter, that has a lava lake inside which reaches temperatures of over 1,250ºC (2,282°F). Located in the extreme northeast of a well-known volcanic chain including many other volcanoes, such as Quetrupillán, Llaima, Osorno, and Lanín. With 59 historically recorded eruptions, the most recent was in 2015, so you can truly experience scaling an active volcano!

Seasoned hikers and beginners alike can take on the hike to the top, which lasts around five to eight hours. You can see the crater and admire the stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, lakes and impressive geographical phenomena that southern Chile has to offer. However, walking is not the only way to get to the top, and there are more exciting ways to ascend this active volcano. Try quad-biking your way up it on an ATV and you will be delighted by the hidden secrets of the countryside that you can only access in this kind of vehicle. Or better yet, visit in the winter months to experience the novelty of skiing on an active volcano! The ski resort is fairly small, but the sense of adventure it will give you as you whiz down the slopes, and the views from the top will make for a perfect winter day out.

skipuconsource: Summit Chile

Huerqueque National Park

Nature lovers should also consider spending a day in the beautiful Huerqueque National Park, well-known for the sparkling crystalline waters of the lakes Tinquilco, Toro, Verde, and Chico. You can enjoy the ancient thousand-year-old araucaria forests, thundering waterfalls, and a variety of birdlife either on foot, on horseback, or from a mountain bike. However you choose to explore the national park, this is the perfect place to enjoy the northern Patagonian nature in all its splendour.

huerqueque2source: We Backpack

You are sure to have a great time in Pucón, no matter which activities you amuse yourself with. Complete with its attractive wooden cafes and shops lining the clean and tidy streets, Pucón itself is a very pleasant place to spend a few days. Be sure to visit Trawen in the morning for a hearty and organic breakfast to set you up for whatever activity you choose to do, and as you stroll down the bustling Avenida O’Higgins in the evening, you will find a multitude of tasty restaurants, as well the notorious Mamas & Tapas bar where you can unwind after a busy day of adventures.

Find out more about tours and activities in Pucón, as well as all around Chile and the rest of Latin America by downloading the TheBesty app, where you can book the best tours and activities and discover fun things to do near you.

Download TheBesty app on the AppStore or Google Play.

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