Hike the Villarrica Volcano

Bucket Listers are drawn to the southern Chilean town of Pucón for its magnificent lakes, river rafting, hot springs and kayaking. The adventurous go on guided tours up Villarrica, one of the country’s most active volcanoes. Strap on crampons and, with the aid of a ski chair from the winter ski resort, start your steep 1400m hike up the volcano’s perfect cone. The crater was grumbling the day I went, with the ground literally shaking beneath my feet. We hustled up the top, and peered into the crater. Lava was exploding around us, so we decided it was best to hightail it, sliding on our bottoms down carved channels in the snow.

Length of Trip : Full day trip, with 4-5 hours for the hike up, and 3-4 hours for the slide down.

Cost :
100,000 pesos per person (around US$150) which includes a return shuttle service to the base, park entrance, insurance, as well as the equipment you'll need: hiking boots, crampons, ice axe, backpack, helmet, gaiters, windbreakers and over-pants.

Best time to go : Weather dependent, the hike is offered all year-round. Best time would be summer, November to February.

Wheelchair friendly : No

Family friendly : Best suited for older kids and people in good physical shape.

Where to eat :
Lots of options on the main street of Bernado O'Higgins. Two I recommend:
Cafe Trawen - Good, if a little pricey Chilean favourites.
Raps - It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a hamburger this much. Dripping with mayonnaise and guacamole on a homemade bun, they provide the avo-chile, mustard and ketchup.

Official Site :
Sol y Nieve Pucon

Where to Stay :
Mirador Los Volcanes Lodge
Villarrica Park Lake

Getting There :
There are flights from Santiago to Pucon during high season (December to the end of February). Outside of high season, there are no flights and you'll have to take a luxury coach or fly to Temuco Airport and take a taxi from there. Villarica Hikers meet at tour operator office or are picked up and dropped off at their hotels.

Note from Robin :
This is a pretty gruelling hike but the reward (and the experience itself) is totally bucket list. It's well worth helping yourself out with the additional cable car though. And sliding down the chutes is great fun, just watch out for your ice pick! Reward your body with a soak at the Los Pozones thermal springs, located about a half hour drive through the beautiful countryside from Pucon. This can also be arranged through the tour operator after your summit.

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