trip report by site editor Rick McCharles
Pucón > Ski Centro > Estero Nilfe
From Pucón we decided to take a taxi up to the Park gates. Much easier than hitchhiking.
The Ranger opened the Villarrica National Park office for us. He’d formerly worked in a Canadian National Park. I chatted with his wife who’s from my hometown, Calgary.
CONAF charges an entrance fee of Ch$5000 to Chileans or Ch$7000 ($10) to foreigners (2016) for using the “Villarrica Traverse”.
Happily we were able to hitchhike the final 17km up to the (ugly in summer) ski resort, the official start of the Traverse.
Slightly overcast (as it often is in the morning in Chile) we quickly headed off into the great blue yonder.
At this point we were literally traversing the volcano. The landscape bleak and blasted. I’d met Victor and Pedro, 2 Brazilian music students, while hiking further north. They decided to join up with me for this BIG and HIGH walk.
My lunch for the first few days was cheddar and buns.
Navigation is very easy on this adventure. Follow the stakes. 🙂
Sadly I still managed to get us lost for perhaps 90 minutes. 😦 When we finally found our way back to the correct route we moved and replaced stakes so nobody else would make my mistake.
Finally the clouds blew off and we got our first good close-up look at Villarrica 2847m. It’s the most climbed volcano in Chile.
Water is a concern. Anything close to the volcano is dirty with ash.
Whenever you find clean water, load up.
Still, water is life. Vegetation regrows only with water.
The Monkey Puzzle trees are a great highlight of this hike. They are the national tree of Chile.
Footing is often difficult in volcanic scoria. Don’t fall.
With so much exposure to the sun, it was always a relief to reach shade.
We camped at the spot recommended by Lonely Planet. Can’t complain about the view. 🙂
I didn’t like the water, however, so walked back to a tarn for perhaps 30 minutes. We did treat a lot of water on this hike.
Good night. It was a great start.