Chile | Pucón – Hot Springs and Volcanoes

We arrived in Pucón in utter awe of Volcan Villarrica, an enormous, snow-capped beast of a volcano smoldering in the very near distance. We have decided to finally put the tent to good use and camp, and one visit to the tourist information center guided us to a good spot in town, close to the lake and on a river known as La Poza. Being shady and grassy, it fits the bill.

The small town’s gorgeous location and (comparatively) pleasant weather certainly draw in a crowd. Signs advertise skiing, horseback riding, backpacking, rafting, kayaking, etc. Many tourists appear to be preparing for a sure-to-be challenging journey up Volcan Villarrica, though its snow-capped summit is intimidating in its rise. The reward is, of course, an exceptional, unparalleled view of Chile’s Lake District. Nearby parks include the Huerquehue National Park and Villarrica National Reserve, both of which offer further hiking and as well as other outdoor activities. To be utterly honest, though, we decided to visit Pucón due to its serene setting and plentiful hot springs – after so many weeks of roughing it, it’s time for a little R&R. There’s a super easy minibus that goes from town to a number of local hot springs and has a really swell, cheery driver. Though completely different in character, these two springs were the favorites:

Los Pozones:

These smaller (and humbler) springs are arranged in a small collection of riverside pools fashioned out of stones and sand. Unfortunately, some pools were simply too shallow or too hot (unless you enjoy being boiled alive), but a few were pleasant enough. One central changing room lets you descend directly into one of the larger pools, which is certainly a fun feature. I’m not entirely confident in saying that these were even proper hot springs, but I did like the natural vibe of the place. Another downside, however, is the lack of secure storage for personal belongings.

Termas Huife:

These springs offer a much fancier alternative to sandy-bottomed pools. With a hotel, upscale restaurant, cafeteria, and spa on site, Huife is wonderfully luxurious, the obvious benefits being that one can eat a comfortable lunch or enjoy a massage after a serene soak. Four well-made but organic-looking pools provide guests with a variety of temperatures – and plenty of relaxation. Additionally, Huife’s restaurant provides impressive fare and an agreeable collection of wines; all is served overlooking the pools and forested land.

Yummy Tip: Across from the Pullman bus station lays a humble-looking restaurant run by a young, local couple. A small patio is out front. The place serves up some of the most delicious food in town – make sure to order the special of the day (which is what the locals are surely eating) instead of reading the short, tourist-oriented menu. Everything we tried was seriously tasty. We shamelessly ate there twice in one day.

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