We arrived in Pucon on a dreary, rainy morning. We had made a hostal reservation ahead of time (which is somewhat rare for us), but didn't realize until we were on our way that we neglected to get the address. We had directions and the town is small, so we set off looking for it. I'll go ahead and ruin the surprise... we couldn't find it, our phone with the email containing the directions died, and it was cold. Instead of melting down, we went back to the bus station to charge the phone and ask for directions. Imagine how nice it was for us to wander around the bus terminal, obviously lost, and have the owner of the hostal walk up to us and ask, "Are you Daniel and Jordan?" AMEN! We had told them which bus we were taking into town, and when we didn't turn up at his place, he set out looking for us. Although this is the first time that has happened, it really is a typical example of how kind the people are.
He walked with us to the hostal, we watched a little video about the things to do in Pucon, and we settled into our room. Chile has been very expensive compared to the rest of South America, so we opted for a four person dorm room and we cooked most meals in the hostal kitchen ourselves. There was only one other person staying there since it is their low season, so it was nice and quiet and we had a lot of space to ourselves. Later that afternoon, the owner took us on a free walking tour of the town. Normally, I probably would have enjoyed such a thing, but he was very long winded and it was cold and rainy. We ended up ducking out a few minutes early and going to the grocery store to escape!
Pucon itself felt like it could be plopped down anywhere in the Pacific Northwest in the states. It was quaint, ecofriendly, and had the beautiful and lush green landscape that I so strongly associate with that area. From the center of town, there are stunning views of Volcano Villarica, one of the most active volcanoes in Chile. Many people take tours to climb it, but we opted out and went to a set of thermal springs instead.
Termas Los Pozones are a 45 minute bus ride outside of town, and are basically like natural hot baths constructed of stone in a rustic style and setting. There are seven "pools" with temperatures ranging from 86 to 108 degrees. The water is heated naturally from the nearby active volcanoes, and the views of the mountains and forest from the pools was beautiful.
There were only a few other people there, so it was nice and relaxing. We enjoyed going from one pool to the next every 15 minutes of so, trying out the different temperatures. The hottest one was so hot that I couldn't even submerge myself all the way! The mineral content of the water is extremely high, and my skin felt amazing by the time we left. Visiting the hot springs was a fantastic way to relax just outside of town.
While we were in Pucon, we spent a lot of time doing "normal" things like grocery shopping/cooking, reading, and relaxing. I did a fair amount of running, since there is a nice bike path that goes along the main road with a view of mountains and volcanoes along the way. We also took a day trip to do some hiking, but that deserves its own post because it was absolutely gorgeous. We mailed a box home with a few souvenirs that we had picked up, and it amazingly arrived in under two weeks. Just for comparison's sake... the postcards we sent from Bolivia took a month and a half! Overall, we enjoyed our time in Pucon, even though the weather was crummy and we spent a lot of time doing normal, everyday type things.
Nuts and Bolts:
Lodging: Etnico Eco Hostel - CLP 6.000 ($12.71) per person in a 4-bed dorm. Very clean, good kitchen, but may be crowded in high season. There is only one bathroom/shower, which could be a problem (but wasn't during our stay). Also they run a tour agency, and were a little pushy the first two days until they got the point that we were not interested. A little outside the main area, but very convenient to the grocery store
Termas Los Pozones: Entrance fee CLP 4.000 ($8.48 per person), Bus to/from Pucon CLP 2.800 ($5.93 USD) per person, round trip. Bring food and water, because there is no place to purchase. Also bring a towel, bathing suit, and sandals. There are no lockers, so watch your things. Time limit is 3 hours, but that is plenty.
Parque Nacional Huequehue: Entrance fee CLP 2.000 ($4.24 USD) per person, Bus to/from Pucon CLP 3.600 ($7.63 USD) per person, round trip. Beautiful day trip for hiking (more details to come in the next post). We took the Los Lagos loop, and it took about 7 hours. Be sure to ask what time the last bus of the day is so you don't miss it! During low season, not all of the buses run.