Pucon was a bit of a mixed bag. We had pretty high expectations based on conversations with other travelers; this can be a little bit dangerous… We arrived in a downpour, after crossing the boarder with Argentina in a snow storm. Our hostel was full, even though I thought I had communicated with the hostel owner and secured a room (at a discount no less). Then we were recommended the sister hostel, which sounded like a great deal since it had also been recommended by a friend. It turned out to be crowded, messy, and overpriced…
Pucon is the “adventure sports capitol” of Chile. The Kiwi hostel owner excitedly described all kinds of extreme activities available to us. There was rafting, zip-lining, body-boarding down a river (called Hydrospeed, where a guide would run the river backwards with a GoPro and provide your own personal DVD), horseback riding, and the most popular, climbing Volcan Villarica. The cost for each of these hovered around $60-80 USD, which we were told was a great deal… Hopefully I’m sounding unimpressed with all of this. Tours are great, don’t get me wrong, but with limited funds we are hyper aware of the real value of some of these activities.
In the end, we decided to hike the volcano because it seemed like the thing to do. Then we spent the following day doing a low-cost day hike, staring at the Volcano (and two others) on a beautiful day, and deciding that we actually didn’t care about mountaineering and backed out of the volcano summit attempt… I guess it’s really easy to get caught up with these things, especially when 75% of the other travelers are doing it. It’s also nice to remember that we have volcanoes in Washington (taller ones, like Mt. Adams), that are low-cost, or even free to climb.
On our third, and last day in Pucon, we took a bus out to some thermal hot springs. What a great way to recover from a 7 hour hike! I swear, if I lived in Pucon, I would be there almost every week. We’ve been traveling with a Swedish couple for the last 4 days, and it was nice to spend a day doing nothing more than sitting in hot pools, eating, and talking.