Huerquehue National Park
Huerquehue Park | © Jason Hollinger / Flickr
To protect this stunning part of Chile, The Cani Sanctuary was privately purchased in order to guarantee the protection of the over 500 acres that it now encompasses. You can take a very scenic bus ride from the center of Pucón, to the entrance, and the thorough guides will sign you in, and give you a waterproof, environmentally friendly map to follow your progress on the way up. Have plenty of memory space on your phone because the view from the top is goosebump worthy.
It really doesn’t matter how long you stay in Pucón, the sight of Villarica on a clear day never gets old, but the more time you stay, the more it tempts you to visit. Luckily, many places in town offer tours that will equip you with everything you need, and lead you up the snow to the top of the volcano where you can actually look inside the active crater. Get in touch with your inner kid as your descent is done on your bum as you zip down the mountain on a flying saucer toboggan.
As you head in the same direction as the Santuario de Cañi, the road forks and if you proceed left, you will again been treated to a beautiful drive that will take you to two terrific destinations. One is the Ojos, or eyes, of Caburgua which is the lake further down the road. These stunning natural pools and rolling waterfalls are varying shades of blue and after enjoying this beauty, you can continue on to the lake itself where the pools and falls originate from, which will also provide you some incredibly scenic views.
Since you cannot swim at the Ojos de Caburgua, if you get a real hankering to jump into some fresh water, you may want to visit the Tres Saltos. The Three Jumps refers to the waterfalls that tumble and drop from the rocks, into the refreshing water below, but be aware as this is also a popular spot for adrenaline junkies so you might find a kayaker barrelling down on you if you are not careful!
Again, the local buses are accommodating for those who want to get out of town and explore, and they even have local bus routes that are designed to take you to the natural hot springs. Take your pick and enjoy the stunning setting of a natural outdoor hot tub, and do note that they are privately owned so don’t show up with only your trunks and a towel, as you will need to pay varying rates to enter, but it’s well worth it for a relaxing day in nature.
Creeks, rivers, and streams empty in and out of the many lakes in the area and this gives you a perfect opportunity to do some white water rafting! Most trips go down the Trancura River which is smooth flowing at some points and can get up to a Grade 3 rapid at others, but with the trained guides from the tour companies, it is a great option for any individual or family.
Extreme sports know no limit and seem to progress from one form to another; this is the equivalent of individual white water rafting where you are given a personal, modified body board to navigate down the river. Tour companies will set you up with a helmet, wetsuit, and these thick foam boards which allow you to put your arms inside the foam, and hold it against your chest, as you bounce back and forth off the rushing water and head downstream.
Another one of the popular trips offered by the tour companies is canyoning the many caves and underground tunnels. This is not for those who suffer who claustrophobia, the fear of small spaces, or acrophobia, the fear of heights, as you maneuver your way down below the earth’s crust and through tight crevasses and openings, exploring the earth from a completely different perspective.