Volcano Villarrica

Entrance to the National Park.
Entrance to the National Park.

Can you believe I got lucky enough to find a volcano during my trip to Chile? Of course you probably already thought of it, but I was delighted to face Volcán Villarrica all day today.

Our day started on the overnight sleeper bus. Our sleep was fitful. Margaret heard the bus hit something metal, and go over it, and began worrying about a crash. I just couldn’t get comfortable. And ugh…I hate trying to sleep on a moving vehicle. Some people are lulled to sleep…but I am irritated into neverending wakefulness.

We got off the bus at the wrong stop at 6am and luckily the bus driver knew me well enough by then to correct the error. “This is not Temuco,” he said, and wouldn’t take my bag ticket. We laughed at ourselves and got back on the bus, to find that a hopeful woman had settled into our seats up front instead of her seat in the very back. Apologies all around and we settled in again for 20 more minutes of bus ride. We were met outside the bus station by a taxi driver who took us a very long way to the airport on a $46 cab ride. Wow! It was a half-hour ride, but I still think that was too much.

Margaret negotiates with the rental car employee.
Margaret negotiates with the rental car employee.

We were the only people in the airport at 7:30am. We had to kill a lot of time before the car rental window opened up at 9:15. I find that picking up a rental is never a smooth process, and this time, though Margaret had purchased trip insurance, and the fee showed, the insurance wasn’t added to the account. The people at the counter didn’t want to release us without a purchase of some kind, so we went around and around for an hour before Margert finally paid an additional deposit, and we finally picked up our car and were able to get on our way.

There we were in Chile, Margaret re-learning to drive a stick shift and in a new country. It ended up being a very easy trip though, and with sunny skies and great roads we arrived at our hotel in no time. Too early for a room, but they held our bags and we went down to the lakefront to share a bottle of wine, apples, cheese and crackers. Once our room was ready, we showered and changed and headed into Pucón. It’s a lovely little tourist town that was setting up for a Friday night concert on the main street. We visited a tourist information office to get a map for hikes the next day.

Heading down route 199 in Chile.
Heading down route 199 in Chile.
Sights of the volcano along the entire trip.
Sights of the volcano along the entire trip.
Our fabulous hotel on the shores of Lake Villarica.
Our fabulous hotel on the shores of Lake Villarica.
Every room in the hotel has views of Lago Villarrica.
Every room in the hotel has views of Lago Villarrica.
Mt. Villarrica from Pucón
Mt. Villarrica from Pucón
Lago Villarrica
Lago Villarrica
We asked at the tourist office where to take a good photo of the mountain, and he suggested that we go to the lake.
We asked at the tourist office where to take a good photo of the mountain, and he suggested that we go to the lake.
There are a couple of flower stands in Pucón that sell these astounding, huge bouquets of flowers that are painted to look out of this world.
There are a couple of flower stands in Pucón that sell these astounding, huge bouquets of flowers that are painted to look out of this world.

One of the things the man at the tourist office suggested was a drive to the base of Mt. Villarrica. So we left town and went 14 kilometers to see it. We didn’t go all the way (and it looks like there is a ski resort there), but we got close.

The road to the mountain was mostly paved, but included a few sketchy spots.
The road to the mountain was mostly paved, but included a few sketchy spots.
Near the base of the mountain.
Near the base of the mountain.
The area is surrounded by high mountains that aren't all volcanoes. But you know, it can't be all volcanoes.
The area is surrounded by high mountains that aren’t all volcanoes. But you know, it can’t be all volcanoes.
We kept seeing these clouds form and roll off the very top of the volcano. It was hard not to think it was steam.
We kept seeing these clouds form and roll off the very top of the volcano. We found out a couple days later that it *is* steam from the still hot volano!

We left the volcano and drove back to Pucón. It’s a small town but large enough that we didn’t get a chance to see it all. We browsed the shops and found a place for dinner. Then we wandered back to the main street to watch musicians doing a sound check for the concert. We didn’t stay for the concert, but we did enjoy the few songs we heard as they got ready.

This place sold preserves and cheese. We are surprized to find that Chile sells a lot of good cheese.
This place sold preserves, famous Chilean honey, and cheese. We are surprized to find that Chile sells a lot of good cheese.
The band was having a great time and people were already settled on both sides of the street to get good seats, even though the concert hadn't really started yet.
The band was having a great time and people were already settled on both sides of the street to get good seats, even though the concert hadn’t really started yet.
The sound check ended and we wandered into a supermarcado and purchased a few items for lunch the next day and headed back to the hotel and called it a night.
The sound check ended and we wandered into a supermarcado and purchased a few items for lunch the next day and headed back to the hotel and called it a night.

{Update! Two days later in a different part of Chile, we were informed that a year and a half ago, two volcanoes became active again. The one further south erupted, and Volcán Villarrica began spewing dust and ash and steam. So all those times when we stood there looking at the top of the mountain, remarking that it seemed as though there was steam billowing from the crater…well…. that’s exactly what it was! ha ha! Even better. 😉 }

12 thoughts on “Volcano Villarrica

    1. You’d think. But…crazy as I can be, I was just thrilled to find out today that Villarrica is hot still, and the clouds we saw at the peak all day long were steam clouds from the crater. With St. Helens close and real for me all the time, one would think volcanoes would be old news, but I just go bonkers for volcanoes, ha ha.

      1. I confess a fascination myself, Crystal, but from a distance. A long distance. 🙂 I had the opportunity to fly over Mt. St. Helens a couple of weeks after she blew. The devastation was incredible. –Curt

      1. On this one occasion, it was luck. I had no thoughts whatsoever of Chile until a few weeks ago when my girlfriend called me out of the blue and insisted I join her on this already-planned trip. Lucky to: 1) have a girlfriend so amazing 2) have a friend who bought my plane ticket for me so I can pay him back in installments 3) have a job where I can propose a last-minute two week vacation and have it approved. Yay!

    1. It’s a photographic mountain, and set as a backdrop to the darling little town, or the lake, or just trees, I did take a bunch of great shots of Villarrica.

      I love that I went to Chile too. I kept thinking to myself, even up to the very end, “I can’t believe I am in Chile.” Wow. Life is amazing and wonderful.

  1. Just like every trip I’ve ever taken, some hitches and some real good stuff. I’ve always wanted to go see St. Helen’s. Maybe one day but not too close. I’m still catching up with you but looks like you are having a good time.

    1. Agreed! And if you can remember to take a breath during the hitches…or at least only have a breakdown when your travelling partner is *not* having a breakdown, then all is well in the end.

      Yes! I live so close to St. Helens and I’ve only made it out there twice now. Seems a waste of a good opportunity. I’m not too concerned about getting close – and I’m not sure why not, because it’s active still. But I do hope to hike up to the rim one of these days, and into the crater if I ever get that chance.

      For a much less worrisome volcano adventure, you can visit Mt. Tabor. Did you know it’s a dormant volcano? There’s a small musical amphitheatre in the old crater, where summer concert are held. The walls are still black from its volcano days. So cool!

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