Pucón is a town in a southern region of Chile. It is beautifully situated next to the volcano Villarica and a lake. I spent 4 days there during the national holiday of Chile. I went with my friends from Santiago and we rented a nice wooden cabin, which reminded me of the cabins we have in Alpes! Like in so many houses in Chile, there was no heating system in our cabin, just the living room at an open fire place and we got some small electric heaters for the bedrooms. As you can image, those weren’t very efficient, so we spent most nights freezing in our beds! Also the weather in Pucón in general is very different from Santiago! Half of the time we spent there it was either raining or snowing, but we had a blast anyway.
As is the custom for Chileans during their national holiday week, we passed about half of our time there having barbecues (called asado) or at a local fair, with typical food, drinks and music from Chile (the fonda). If you have the chance to try an asado (made by Chileans of course) you shouldn’t miss it. In my opinion it is one of the most fun and tasty culinary experiences you can have (the only exception might be for vegetarians, but even then you will really enjoy the concept of it). I can only speak for the German style barbecues, but we could really learn something here! A typical Chilean asado takes about 3 hours, and that’s just the eating part. Unlike in Germany, the Chileans take their time and grill the meat up to two hours. Once the meat is ready, the grill master cuts the meat into tiny pieces and the plate in handed around so everyone can grab a piece (no one has their own plate). During my first asado I asked my friends where they keep the dipping sauces, which I was used to having in Germany, and they started staring and then laughing at me. They told me just to try the meat…and it was amazing! Except for a little salt maybe, there’s nothing you should ever add to a Chilean asado.
The time we didn’t spent in the yard eating or preparing to eat, we explored the town Pucón and it’s surroundings. The lake seemed really nice, with a small and kind of sandy beach. Unfortunately it was way too cold to even dip a toe in it. The town is mostly made out of wooden buildings and small streets. There are a lot of small cafes and outdoor stores/agencies. It was the national holiday of Chile so we got to see a small parade coming through the city with people dressed up in local traditional clothes.
One of the most popular outdoor activities around Pucón is climbing the volcano Villarica, but during the time we where there it was not possible because there was too much snow. We still wanted to do something outdoors, so we decided to go horseback riding!
Unlike some other experiences I had horseback riding abroad, the horses were in great shape and willing to actually do what we wanted. The price was very reasonable, about 25 dollars. We rode through a really nice landscape, always seeing the Andes or the volcano. After one hour or so we stopped the horses and continued by foot for about 20 minutes downhill to a beautiful, small waterfall hidden in the forest.
After this long afternoon in the saddle we needed something to relax and warm up. Luckily Pucón is also famous for its hot springs! We got in our cars and drove to a nice little spa with big and hot hot tubs outside. It seemed very surreal with the freezing air, little snowflakes, and big forests surrounding the place.
Pucón is a perfect place to see another side of Chile! With it’s vegetation, the type of houses, the lakes, and mountains it reminded me of Switzerland, except it had an amazing volcano next to it. If you like being outdoors, hiking, rafting and similar things, you’ll love Pucón! It is about 8 hours from Santiago, and can be reached best either by car or by a public bus.