What’s at the top of your bucket list? Is it swimming with turtles, climbing mount Everest or visiting the pyramids? Everyone has a bucket-list, just like us and we are incredibly lucky to be ticking so many things off. Although hiking up a volcano was something we thought we would never do and never even crossed our minds. So when we heard about hiking up Villaricca Volcano, we couldn’t really say no.
Villaricca Volcano is situated in a beautiful little town called Pucon and you definitely cant miss it. Pretty much from every street, you can see the snow covered volcano. It’s a prominent attraction in Pucon and many people visit just to hike it. As crazy as it sounds, Villaricca Vocano is one of Latin America’s most active volcano. This definitely freaked me out but I found comfort in knowing that hundreds of people complete this hike everyday, so surely we can do it too!
What you need to know before you go…
Hiking up Villaricca Volcano is completely weather dependant. Lucky enough for us, the day we went was absolutely perfect. It was dry with bright blue skies. However, weather can change instantly. We heard that some people were waiting days before they could hike up or even go half way and couldn’t continue because of the wind. I would recommend getting the tour booked as soon as you can and just hoping you can go the following day.
- Cost of the tour; 80,000 CLP
- Duration; 5 hours to the summit & 2 hours back down.
- Level; As long as you are physically fit and healthy, anyone can do this hike.
Book with Terra Volcano Pucon
We booked our tour with Terra Volcano Pucon and they were great. Not that we really compared them to any other tour companies, but we would definitely recommend them if your thinking of booking a tour. It was only the day before we actually booked it, but they were really helpful giving all the information we needed and definitely put my mind at rest with my unnecessary paranoia. We were able to try on our equipment the day before the hike, so we were all ready to go and knew we would feel comfortable. That’s a biggie, so make sure you are happy with all your clothes, especially your shoes.
- Walking boots
- Waterproof trousers
- Waterproof jacket
- Gloves x2
- Ice pick
- Walking poles can be given along the way if required.
We were picked up from our hostel at 6am
We were then taken to collect our rucksacks already pre-packed with our equipment, everything was already folded in or clipped on ready for us to go! We then were driven to the entrance of the national park, about 45 minutes from the centre of Pucon.
The all important hike…
It definitely started to feel more real and the nerves started kicking in. To be honest, I had no idea how hard it was actually going to be until I was half way up there. When we arrived, we were given the option of taking the chairlift. This costs 10,000 CLP. Part of me wishes I had taken the chairlift which would have taken off a good hour of the hike, but now that I made it to the summit without it, it is so much more of an achievement. It completely depends on you. That first hour is tough, it’s very steep and your not even on the snow yet. If you want to saver your energy, I would recommend taking it.
What to take with you?
- Plenty of water and easy accessible snacks for along the way. It’s a long hike and you will need the energy!
- Suncream– although the volcano is covered in snow and quite cold up there. Remember the sun is strong and will reflect onto your face.
- Lip Balm– a big mistake by us. Who knew that cold wind would be so horrendous on your lips! Make sure to take some sort of lip balm with you so your lips don’t become chapped and sore.
- Sunglasses- Yep, it’s very bright up there! The reflection on the snow is a lot so I would recommend that you wear sunglasses for the entirety of the hike.
Getting to the top
The guys from Terra Volcano Pucon were great and so supportive the whole way. They had done this hike thousands of times so knew we were in good hands. We were given tons of information along the way and were given demonstrations with the crampon’s and ice picks. God forbid, we slipped! They always kept an eye on how we were doing, giving little motivational chants to keep us going.
What an achievement!!
I was absolutely dreading hiking up Villaricca Volcano. From the town of Pucon, you can see how steep is gets right at the top. You have to walk in zig zags as it’s simply too steep to walk straight up. Joe on the other hand was dead excited. Nothing really phases him but it turns out his job that day was getting me too the top. Yes I complained and gave up a lot but he kept me going and he got us to the top!
It’s not that bad…
Not going to lie, the hike is hard but it is not impossible. It is very slow paced and the guides will get you there. You have to keep thinking of how amazing it will be once you get to the top. Believe me, it’s the most incredible experience you will have. I don’t regret the hike at all, in fact it’s one of the best things I have ever done. Considering I never even thought about hiking a volcano, it’s created the best memories!!
So get hiking!!
If your nervous or unsure about doing this hike, that’s fine. I was in exactly the same position. Just remember that so many people complete it and it really is so much safer than you might think. Yes it’s tough but you just keep going and going and to be able to see the crater of an active volcano is something you will remember forever!
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