Parque Nacional Villarrica
Parque Nacional Villarrica information
This national park is one of the most popular in the country because of its glorious mix of volcanoes and lakes. Its proximity to Pucón makes Villarrica accessible for everyone - from bus trippers to climbers, skiers and hardcore hikers. The park's highlights are the three volcanoes: Villarrica, Quetrupillán and Lanín.
The park's 60,000 hectares (148,263 acres) are officially divided into three sections called Rucapillán, Quetrupillán and Puesco, and are crisscrossed with an array of hikes from quick day jaunts to long multi-day traverses.
The hike up to the smoking, sometimes lava-spitting crater of Volcán Villarrica is a popular full-day excursion, leaving Pucón early in the morning. You do not need prior mountaineering experience, but it's no Sunday stroll. Crampons and ice axes are required on the snow and it can be treacherous and occasionally frightening (we witnessed a tourist tumble 30m down the snow, only to be stopped by rocks). Conditions are most difficult in fall when snow levels have depleted. It is important to use reliable equipment and choose an outfitter whose guides are properly trained. Note that bad weather may delay organized ascents for days. Climbs are sometimes cancelled altogether or may be required to turn back part way.