Pucón  is a small touristy town in the middle of the southern lake district in Chile.
Extremely popular both with Chileans and foreigners for its nightlife and the beautiful views of volcan Villarrica. The city center is a backpacker's Disneyland, filled with travel agencies that will offer you any kind of day trips imaginable. 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.
The nearby volcano Villarrica
Buses travel between Santiago and Pucón daily, many overnight. Tickets are scarce in summer, buy yours sufficiently ahead of your intended departure time.
You can also take the bus from Valdivia, it takes 3hrs.
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.
Trains run to Temuco in summer (Dec-Feb), and only to Chillan rest of the year. Buses are better value.
Driving from Santiago takes approximately eight hours and involves the passing of seven road tolls on the ruta 5, Ch$ 2200 each. The road from the turnoff to Pucón is paved and in good shape.
Mainly Taxis to places out of town, the town itself 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.
From Pucon's center there are stunning views of Volcan Villarrica, one of the most active volcanoes in Chile.
- Climbing Volcan Villarrica. Snowcapped Villarrica 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. This is especially true if you take the chair lift for an extra CLP 7,000. Make no mistake it is a challenge because of the steepness, but it's something that anyone who is in decent shape can do. 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 officially need to register with Conaf (in town), have your equipment checked and show proof of membership in a mountaineering organization in your home country. Climbing without permission at peak season would seem to be tricky as CONAF may have people stationed at the top of the ski lift. In April 2013 no CONAF were seen there, but earlier travelers said that they had seen them. The travelers also said a very early start would be required to be sure of avoiding them. Most people start from the skiing area, where you can take the ski lift for the first 300 meters. It doesn't sound like much, but it is a very steep climb without taking the lift. 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 630 am but some agencies offer an earlier 5am 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 for Ch$35,000 and up as of April 2013. Some agencies offer better equipment than others, including sleds to go down some parts of the volcano. Andesmar is not recommended. Their equipment is embarrassingly terrible, including duct taped boots and clothing with large holes in it. They provide no sleds like other companies, and they will often not summit the volcano due to arbitrary safety concerns. They are very proud of their safety record and will do nothing to risk it, which means that any reason to turn back will be sufficient and no refunds will be given. In one incident there was a bit of wind on a clear day and all other companies continued to the top, but Andesmar turned back to the dismay of the trekkers who had nearly made it. A once in a lifetime trip was ruined. The trekkers also noted the general apathy of the guides, noting that they could tell they really weren't into the hike that day. Backpacker's is better, offering better equipment, motivated guides, and also the cheapest. Most guides won't go further up after 2pm 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. Some companies, like Andesmar, may pull a quick one and keep 100% of your money if you leave the parking lot at the base of the mountain only to decide shortly thereafter that they don't want to continue. It's worth noting that after the recent eruption in march 2015 climbing the volcano is no longer possible to do legally, (An early morning departure might get you past guards but is certainly unsafe and prohibited) It is likely to remain that way for at least a few months, exactly how long depends on the volcano settling down.
- 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.
- 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 e.g. 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 clearly marked 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. Though organised tours are one way to reach the park, it is also reachable by bus from Pucón. Buses depart four times daily from the station across from the JAC terminal in Pucón; at 8:30, 13:00, 16:00 and 18:20. A schedule with return times is posted in the station.
- 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. I would advise a taxi or emailing them for a pick up, which they do pretty much daily at one pm from the town centre. edit
- Jack Trout Fly Fishing, ☎ 530-918-8879 (email@example.com), . Fly fishing wading and drift boat excursions on the Rio Trancura, Licura, San Pedro & all Lake District rivers since 1993 . Single day or multiple day guide trips. Has all the fly fishing gear and accepts all major credit cards. edit
- 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. edit
- Amity Tours, ☎ 56 45) 444 574, . Founded in 2003, Amity Tours is a family owned company and was created due to the immense opportunities for diverse and attractive programs that can be offered in The Lake & Volcano District (Chile and Argentina). They believe that this enchanting area located between the mountains and the sea is a largely unspoiled zone that has been ignored by local tour operators in the region for too long. Amity Tours has programs exploring the ancestral roots of the region, together with local specialized guides. In this light, 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. The owners are amazing and very hospitable. They offer something most large tour operators do not... creativity!
- Thermal Springs Los Pozones, Km.36 Pucón - Huife Alto (there is a bus that leaves from Pucon (calle Palguín 555) at 1:30pm and comes back at 6:30pm (Ch$2800 return trip)), . 5 natural pools next to the river, water around 30-40ºC with a beautiful setting, especially during winter (snow around you). Ch$4000. edit
- Llama Trek Pucon at Seeking South (Llama trekking to Salto el Claro), (firstname.lastname@example.org), ☎ +56-9-75733070, . 3. Enjoy a different way of walking, trekking with llamas, this gentle animals will be your company during this tour to the amazing waterfall "Salto el Claro" edit
- Sierra Nevada Mountain Bike (Rent a bike in Pucon), (Avenida Ohiggins 524), ☎ +56-9-61730055, . Enjoy the fantastic views by bike. Great bikes as Cannondale and Giant. All sizes." edit
- [La Maga , Fresia Street, close to Pucón Square and Church. Mouthwatering Uruguayan Barbeque. Book ahead in summer.
- Ecole, Urrutia street, is a good vegetarian restaurant. www.ecole.cl
- Viva Peru, Amazing Peru food - try the fish. Lincoyan 372 Street , phone + 56 45 444025
- Pizza Cala, Lincoyan 361, ☎ +56 45 463 024. Some of the best brick oven pizza in town. Also has a full bar with Int'l TV sports edit
- Latitude 39, Geronimo de Alderete 324, ☎ 9 743 000 16 (email@example.com), . Cool southern Californian couple, Rob and Monica moved to Pucon in 2007 after travelling through in 2004. They set up Latitude in 2008. edit
- Mamas and Tapas Bar Restaurant. Great Place, Good Food (TACOS!!!) and Music
Ohiggins 597 Pucon Chile - Fono +56 45-449 002 - mail firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the town's gringo scene, run by a local white water kayaker, snowboarder's and ski
- Cabañas Akubra, Fono: 56 45 44191, . Owned by Chilean-born Australians.
- Hostal RumboSur, Colo Colo 361 (2 blocks from TURBUS bus station. From O´Hoggins make a right onto Colo Colo Street, continue 50 meters until the big yellow house), ☎ +56 45 44 38 40. checkout: 11am. This charming updated farmhouse has views of the mountains and the Villarica Volcano. Walking distance to all popular hot spots,the beach and the bus station. There is an option for private suites for families or groups, or spacious dormitory style rooms, all have comfortable ex-long warm beds and central heating for the cold winter nights. hostalrumbosur.blogspot.com CP$9,000+. edit
- Hotel Antumalal, Km 2 Camino Pucon Villarrica, ☎ (045) 2 441011, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Nestled in 5 hectares of private gardens on the Villarrica lake edge, Hotel Antumalal delivers a quality, relaxing and luxurious experience. The unique setting merges natural beauty with style and personalized service. It is the attention to detail, charming design and tranquility that makes the Antumalal “Simply an Experience”. edit
- Hotel y Cabañas Kernayel, Av. Camino Internacional 1395 Fono/Fax: (56-45) 44 21 64 - 44 30 52, . Nice place for a nice price. The "cabañas" are really great.
- La Bicicleta, Palguin 361,Pucon, ☎ 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. 10,000 peso ppn. edit
- Paradise Pucon Hostel  Colo Colo 92 +5645443733 This little hostel is in a quiet neighborhood just a short walk to town. Close to the beach on the lake, lots of common space, including a fireplace for winter and hammock for the summer. You kind of stay with the family, who is very friendly. Dorm 8000p without breakfast.
- Portal Pucon, . Excellent place with views of the lake for an excellent price (2 bedroom 1 bath "cabañas" for ~ $72US a night.
- Hostal el Refugio, 540 Palguin (Opposite Pullman Bus Terminal), ☎ 045 441596, . Dorm CP6,000 ppn/ Double CP7,000 ppn. This warm and friendly hostel is a great option for those on a budget. It is an excellent place for meeting other travelers as a result of the inviting communal areas. With facilities including a well equipped kitchen, several fireplaces, free internet as well as tea and coffee all day, this place is superb value for money. The owners and staff are extraordinarily friendly and a wealth of information. Both dorms and privates (even one with private fireplace). Good choice. edit
- Lacustre Hostel. Next to El Refugio Hostel. Palguin street. Dorm from 8.000. Nice relaxed place.
- DOME, KM 9 Pucon - Villarrica (email@example.com), ☎ 56 9 78784684. Dome House, peace and tranquility, 3 to 4 persons, 3 to 4 persons fully equipped. firstname.lastname@example.org face book: "ruka domo" edit
- Grand Hotel Pucon. The Grand Hotel Pucon is a large hotel located right 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 speaks a little English. $150 per night but you might be charged extra for gym/pool/sauna edit
- Nativa Hostel (in front of the casino), calle Palguín 695 (2 doors from JAC bus station), ☎ +56 45 441426. checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. The hostel has a spacious and cozy living room with TV, DVD, sound system and internet connection free to use for our guests. The rooms have comfortable and clean beds that include pillow, bed sheets and blankets. For your security, the hostel has 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 hours hot water for the showers. You will only have to bring your own towels. And last but not least, you can find a beautiful open air terrace with a BBQ place and beach chairs on the second floor – there’s nothing better for a “chill and grill” on a warm summer evening. $10000 as of Janurary 2015. edit
- Chili Kiwi Hostel, O´Higgins 20, Pucon (On corner of the lakefront and the main road O´Higgins), ☎ (045) 449 540, . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 10:30. Lakefront location, nice sunset views from the garden or lounge, as well as being just a few blocks from the heart of town (Pucon is small). Dorm rooms are equipped with reading lamps for each bed, shelves for your stuff, and lockers. Double rooms are cozy. There are 2 fully equipped kitchens and lots of bathrooms/showers. Staff are friendly and a wealth of info for hikes and other activities in the area. The common areas are very social, so it´s easy to meet people and enjoy a glass of wine, meal or join for an adventure. Cheapest dorm is 10.000 (large dorm); 12.000 for a 4 bed dorm (March 2016). 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.
Market in Villarrica Chile