Pucon and Volcanoes Lanin and Villarica

ihana.com - big trip - diary - chile - march 2003

3747m high Lanin volcano

How to get wired in Chile

Landying around Lanin

Sunday 30 - Monday 31 March

A late night meant a late start, so the crack of Sunday afternoon saw us landying over Tromen pass, 80 kms northwest of San Martin. The pass affords great views of Lanin Volcano, which is on the argentinian side of the border, before dropping down towards Pucon, one of Chile's top outdoorsy resorts. The setting sun cast a crimson hue across the snow-clad upper slopes of the smoking 2847m volcano Villarica, as we searched in vain for a clear view of the spectacle. After the sun had set we drove into town to discover the perfect view from next to the lake, oh well, next time.

Lake at Caburgua

Countryside tranquility

Another dodgy creaker

Volcan Villarica

We spent the night at a campsite on the lower slopes of Villarica, waking to the amusing sight of the owner in his dressing gown and a towel wrapped around his head in a vain attempt to alleviate severe toothache. First stop was into town to a mechanic. He welded a new and improved locking mechanism for the damaged cubby box, plus welded up the exhaust mid-mount, last done in Brasil. After remounting the cubby box more strongly than before, we got the latest puncture repaired in a "Gomeria", picked up a local map and then headed off for a tour of the area.

Through the trees...

...then along the river...

...through the volcanic rocks

T scales a mini volcano in a couple of strides

On the way up Villarica

Volcanoes Quetrupillan and Lanin

The volcano can be seen from many different places so its possible to get it in almost every picture. Wanting to do a bit of a walk to stretch our legs, we drove back towards the border a few kms and turned up a steeply winding track into the back of the national park. We bumped into the park ranger who warned us of fairly difficult mud for a short stretch ahead. He had a Suzuki 4x4 so we were confident we would have no problems with the landy.

Climbing steadily in low box up the tree root covered track on the lower slopes of the volcano led us to our parking spot for the walk to see the glacier on the slopes of the mountain. The path led through a forest of monkey puzzle trees then onto scree slopes of the volcano proper and we followed the milky glacial river upwards, flat-topped Volcan Quetrupillan and the 3747m Lanin on the argentine border could be seen behind us and the snowy top of Villarica ahead.


Volcanic glacier


The ground is made up of small porous stones which grind to dust under your step and its rather like walking in sand. We wondered where the glacier was, there was the river coming from its meltwaters but no glacier. It wasn't until we were literally on top of it that we realised the glacier was black with dirt - we'd thought they were little hills of ash! The sun was rapidly setting and as we descended the two volcanoes in the distance were lit with pink light. Back at the landy we returned along the track a short way to a picnic site in the woods and made camp there.

Next morning we got up bright and early to tackle the mud which turned out to be disappointingly easy but fun nonetheless. At least we didn't get stuck without a winch handle again.

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