Chile

The Best Weekend Getaway for Students Studying in Chile

Hannah Casey is a student at the Virginia Tech and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad  with ISA in Valparaiso, Chile

When I turned around, I was above the clouds. Ahead of me was wispy smoke dancing out of the mouth of the volcano into the clear blue sky. The air was quiet, save for the crunching of snow beneath our boots and the almost audible sound of everyone internally convincing themselves that they had the strength to keep going.

Conquering all 2,847 meters of Volcan Villarrica was undoubtedly the highlight of my ISA excursion to Pucón, Chile, but it was only one of the many exciting experiences that filled my three days in the beautiful and adventuresome town. If you’re looking to get out of the city and explore some of the magnificent natural wonders that Chile has to offer, Pucón is the place to do it.

Hike Volcan Villarrica

To hike the volcano, I woke up at the ripe hour of 6 AM. We were provided with special pants, jackets, helmets, ice picks, and backpacks for the trek.

Here is the rest of my group looking nifty in their matching outfits, while my overheating-self had already shed the extra layers.

It took about 6 hours to reach the top, with frequent stops for water, food, and sunscreen. After the stops, I would be re-energized for about 10 steps before I started daydreaming about our next break.

Looking forward to the summit

The volcano is very active, as proven by its last eruption in 2015, but no lava was visible when we reached the summit.

At the summit. We had to wear gas masks to protect ourselves from the sulfur coming from the volcano.

We slid down most of the mountain on little sleds and it only took about an hour and a half to make it down to the bottom!

The effort was worth it for views like this!

Go white water rafting

This was my first time white water rafting, and it did not disappoint. The class four rapids battered the side of our boat, but we managed to all stay out of the icy water until the end when we voluntarily swam to shore.

Navigating a class IV rapid along Rio Trancura

Immerse yourself in a traditional Mapuche settlement

The indigenous Mapuche people have had a profound impact on Chilean culture, especially in the south. We had the privilege of visiting a Mapuche settlement where we enjoyed traditional Mapuche cuisines such as sopaipillas mapuches and wheat coffee.

We ate lunch inside this Mapuche-style house, or Ruca.

Relax in the thermal hot springs

After all my adventuring, the only thing left to do was relax, and the way to do that in Pucón is to visit one of the natural hot springs. The water lived up to its moniker with waters as hot as a jacuzzi.

One of the thermal hot springs in Pucón

From outdoor journeys on volcanoes and rivers, to the cultural experience of visiting a Mapuche settlement and the tranquility of a hot spring, four days in Pucón was a wonderful adventure. I returned to my home base of Viña del Mar with a camera roll full of memories and a journal full of stories I’ll be recounting for years to come.

Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits. 

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