Pucón and Villarrica

Villarrica is located 87 kilometers southeast of the city of Temuco, in the 9th region. It is located on the shores of Lake Villarrica, a place of nice resort spas such as Pucón and Licanray.

Another attraction is the Villarrica Volcano, which is active and has a permanent plume. Its height is about 2840 meters altitude and at its northern slope is the Pucon Ski Center.

This is the sixth oldest city in Chile, but because of its past battles between Spaniards and Indians, most of its colonial buildings were destroyed. Thus, Villarrica has a rather rustic style with traditional buildings such as the Catedral (Cathedral), the Municipalidad (Municipality) and the headquarters of the Diocesis, plus some modern features like the regional campus of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica.

The climate of Villarica is temperate oceanic style, with warm temperatures in summer, cold in winter and the presence of rainfall throughout the year. The annual average temperature is 22º C.

The city is located in a ecological Mediterranean type zone, where there is lot of vegetation, favored by the constant rains throughout all months of the year, especially in winter. Some of the native species of the sector are oak, myrtle, araucaria, coigue and mañio.

It is also home to wildlife like pudú, fox, puma, coipo, wild boar, deer and birds such as condors, woodpeckers, parrots, owls and other native birds. In its waters you can find salmon and rainbow trout, so sport fishing can be done.

Among the main attractions in Villarrica we find the Costanera (waterfront), that borders the lake on the way to Pucon, LicanRay, the Muestra Cultural Mapuche, recreational activities such as sport fishing and other excursions on the river Toltén, as well as activities during the summer such as the Noche del Lago and cultural events.

Pucon, on the other hand, is located about 15 miles away from Villarrica, on the east bank of the lake. It is the largest lake resort of Chile and the "capital of adventure tourism" of Chile.

It is highlighted for its beaches and beautiful natural surroundings with year round snow-capped mountains, coniferous forests, rushing rivers, waterfalls, lakes and rapids, plus ski resorts and hot spring facilities. Because of its many attractions it is a place that can be visited all year round.

An example of this is the Villarrica National Park, 12 kilometers from Pucón, where the Pucon ski center is found, where you can find camping areas, lakes and volcanoes in over 60 thousand acres. Moreover, within this park you can visit the Centro de Ski Pucón Ski (Pucon Ski Center).

Other natural areas are the Villarrica National Reserve and the Huerquehue National Park.

History

The Valdivia area began to fill in 8000 BC, but the first traces of a population organized emerged between 300 and 1200 AD, where groups of hunter-gatherers who developed an incipient agriculture and livestock appeared. Over time these groups would become the Mapuche tribe.

In 1552, the Spaniard Geronimo de Alderete founded Villarrica on the banks of the Tolten river and the west side of Lake Villarrica, formerly Mallalafquén. Gold mines were expected to be found in the area and turned into a passage between the Pampas and the Atlantic.

The constant battles with the Mapuche broke the peace of the newly founded city, being evacuated in 1554 after the Battle of Tucapel. After being abandoned, it was completely destroyed by the Mapuche. That same year in October, Villarrica was resettled and started a large growth in the mining of gold and silver.

This boom lasted until 1598, with the Battle of Curalaba where the Mapuche were winners. They maintained their siege on the city until 1602, when again and definitely took it over and burned down what was left of their buildings.

The ruins of the city of Villarrica were abandoned for 280 years. In 1882, after the Parliament of Putue, they were able to approve the rebuilding of the area. In 1883 a fort was built in the area now corresponds to Pucon.

From the beginning years of Villarrica as a city, its beautiful surroundings, hot springs, lakes and snow-capped volcano became a tourist attraction spot, and in 1923 the first hotel was inaugurated in the city. Some boats made trips to Pucon tours to the volcano crater.

Pucon was always a vacation destination, especially visited by German settlers. This area, which was a military settlement in its beginning, to protect the borders of Villarrica, and became an attractive place that led to the construction of a hotel by part of the Ferrocarriles del Estado (State Railways), with a railway that made trips by train toto the zone.

With it, new hotels were established in the area, allowing sustained growth of the tourism industry which reached its peak in the 80s, and it is maintained until today.

Where to go

Avenida Costanera de Villarrica: (Costanera de Villarica Avenue)

 

The Valdivia area began to fill in 8000 BC, but the first traces of a population organized emerged between 300 and 1200 AD, where groups of hunter-gatherers who developed an incipient agriculture and livestock appeared. Over time these groups would become the Mapuche tribe.

 

In 1552, the Spaniard Geronimo de Alderete founded Villarrica on the banks of the Tolten river and the west side of Lake Villarrica, formerly Mallalafquén. Gold mines were expected to be found in the area and turned into a passage between the Pampas and the Atlantic.

The constant battles with the Mapuche broke the peace of the newly founded city, being evacuated in 1554 after the Battle of Tucapel. After being abandoned, it was completely destroyed by the Mapuche. That same year in October, Villarrica was resettled and started a large growth in the mining of gold and silver.

This boom lasted until 1598, with the Battle of Curalaba where the Mapuche were winners. They maintained their siege on the city until 1602, when again and definitely took it over and burned down what was left of their buildings.

The ruins of the city of Villarrica were abandoned for 280 years. In 1882, after the Parliament of Putue, they were able to approve the rebuilding of the area. In 1883 a fort was built in the area now corresponds to Pucon.

From the beginning years of Villarrica as a city, its beautiful surroundings, hot springs, lakes and snow-capped volcano became a tourist attraction spot, and in 1923 the first hotel was inaugurated in the city. Some boats made trips to Pucon tours to the volcano crater.

Pucon was always a vacation destination, especially visited by German settlers. This area, which was a military settlement in its beginning, to protect the borders of Villarrica, and became an attractive place that led to the construction of a hotel by part of the Ferrocarriles del Estado (State Railways), with a railway that made trips by train toto the zone.

With it, new hotels were established in the area, allowing sustained growth of the tourism industry which reached its peak in the 80s, and it is maintained until today.

This trip borders the beach of Lake Villarrica and is ideal for water activities such as fishing, sailing, among others. It gives you a beautiful view of the lake and the volcano of the same name.

 

Museo de Villarrica: (Villarica Museum)

 

It offers collections of objects from the Neolithic period that belonged to the Mapuche people such as jewelry, pottery, leather goods, as well as part of the colonial era documents.

Ferias Artesanales: (Craft Fairs)

 

 

Here you can find all kinds of products produced in the area, along with a replica of a “ruca mapuche” (Mapuche hut), a typical house of this village made with reed and cattail.

Parque Nacional Villarrica: (Villarica National Park)

 

 

It is located 12 kilometers from Pucón and offers more than 60 thousand acres where there are several attractions like the Villarrica Volcano (2840 meters), the Quetrupillán Volcano (2360 meters) and the Lanin Volcano, near the border with Argentina (3774 meters).

 

In addition, inside you can find several lagoons like Blanca, Azul, Verde, Los Patos, Quillelhue, Verde and Huinfiuca, and the rivers Trancura, Palguín and Turbio, to name a few. In all of theses bodies of water you can perform water activities such as fishing, sailing, rafting, kayaking, among others.

It is a rainy area throughout the year with snow in the winter. This permits it to have large native vegetation, where you can find pine, coigues, beech and evergreen beech, which are habitat of indigenous fauna such as the harrier red fox, quique, pumas, pudú, auilucho, peuco, eagle, and many more.

Volcán Villarrica: (Villarica Volcano)

 

It is the main attraction and the postcard of the city of Villarrica. It is active and has a permanent plume. Its crater is covered by a large glacier of about 40 square kilometers.

 

It also has volcanic caves, which extend up to 700 meters and can be toured by visitors with a guide. Promotions are also given out as well as a climb up the side of the volcano.

At its northern slope, the Pucon Ski Center is located.

Centro de Ski Pucón: (Pucon Ski Center)

 

This ski resort is located on one of the slopes of the Villarrica Volcano and within the grounds of the National Park of the same name. It has excellent services such as chairlifts and arrastre, fields with different levels of difficulty, ski schools, equipment rental, cafes and more.

 

It is administered by the Gran Hotel Pucón and the snow season runs each year from June to October.

Pucón:

 

It is the country's largest lake resort. In addition to its beach front on the shores of Lake Villarrica, it has attractive surroundings like forests, rivers, waterfalls and trails, where all kinds of outdoor activities can be performed and this is why it is known as the Adventure Capital of Tourism.

 

Besides this it also has hot springs and excellent tourist services.

Parque Nacional Huerquehue: (Huerquehue National Park)

 

 

Within this natural area of 12 thousand acres we can find several lakes such as Verde Lake, Toro Lake and Chico Lake. It has hiking trails and you can observe the flora and fauna of the environment, as well as the beautiful surrounding countryside.

 

 

The forests of araucarias are highlighted in this area, which are over 2,000 years old. Traverse is recommended throughout the year, but always with warm clothing, regardless of the season.

Volcán Quetrupillán: (Quetrupillán Volcano)

 

It lies between the Villarrica Volcano and Lanin Volcano. Here you can also do climbing excursions and trails crossing lush forests. It is a lesser known destination but with beautiful scenery, a place that is worth seeing.

Salto de la China: (China Falls)

 

 

Located 30 kilometers from Pucon, it is a waterfall with a height of 73 meters, surrounded by lush nature of the forests in the area. It is located near the Termas de Palguín.

Termas de Palguín: (Palguin Springs)

 

 

They are located 30 kilometers southeast of Pucon and correspond to outdoor pools accross from the Villarrica volcano. Its waters are of volcanic origin and have healing properties for rheumatic diseases, skin conditions and nervous system, among others.

 

It has 15 wells of thermal water directly into the natural terrain, but have wooden or sement hot tubs, a heated outdoor pool and accommodation.

Termas de Coñaripe: (Coñaripe Springs)

 

This resort is located on the lakeside of Pellaifa Lake, just 15 miles away from Coñaripe and 60 kilometers away from Villarrica. Its waters, completely natural, emerge from 6 main aspects at temperatures reaching 78° C and spa services to relax and rest.

 

It has a hotel, without roof installations and two outdoor pools. It also offers all kinds of outdoor activities to enjoy the beauty of its surroundings, such as hiking and horseback riding, among others.

Termas Geométricas: (Geometricas Springs)

 

They are found within the forests of the Villarrica Volcano National Park, on the road from Coñaripe to Colguin.

 

Its waters are of volcanic origin, with temperatures reaching 89° C and that sprout from more than 60 natural springs in the middle of a creek that was inaccessible but was enabled through 20 pools cut out from the rock, and walkways made from coigue wood, which allows you to travel the length of 450 meters in the area.

At night, the bridge is illuminated with candles to enjoy a romantic bath. Construction of the springs also includes a barbecue made from coigue wood wherean open fire nrightens the area, to chat and rest after a relaxing thermal bath.

Other services include bathrooms, lockers and dressing rooms, but do not have places to stay within the springs.

LicanRay:

 

This beautiful town is located on the shore of Lake Calafquén. It has four sectors that are used as spas: the peninsula, which offers a full view of the surrounding, playa chica, playa grande and the embaracadero (all beaches).

Lago Calafquén: (Calafquen Lake)

 

 

It is located around Villarica and Pucon, 30 kilometers south of Villarrica. It belongs to the de Siete Lagos (Seven Lakes) circuit area, and is ideal for water sports such as fishing, yachting, swimming, boating, and more.

Coñaripe:

 

 

It is another lakeside resort located on the shore of Lake Calafquén. It has an attractive beach that is 3 kilometers long. It is also in one of the entrances to the Villarica National Park, one of the most beautiful areas of exuberant nature.

Río Trancura: (Trancura River)

 

 

It is one of the most important rivers of the 9th region of la Araucanía and the main tributary of Lake Villarrica. In its rushing waters you can practice sports like fishing and it is most famous for being ideal for rafting, because of their rapids that can get up to grade 4.

 

Activities

In Villarrica you can enjoy beautiful surroundings, outdoor activities, ecotourism and walking the quiet streets of the city as well as the beauty of the tourustic city of Pucón.

Starting from the center of Villarrica, we can find the Mapuche Fair which features an elaborate construction made from reed and rattan such as a Mapuche hut, where you can appreciate the lifestyle and the objects of these first settlers in the area, plus traditions and typical meals. You can also visit the Mapuche Cultural Center, with more information and collections relating to this ethnic group.

Then you can tour the lakefront of the Villarrica Lake and get a direct view of the Villarrica Volcano's fumaroles. You can also navigate on its waters and enjoy the beach that offers complete services for visitors arriving throughout the year.

Another attraction is the beach of Licanray, 26 kilometers away from Villarica. It is located on the shore of Lake Calafquén and offers nice spas surrounded by native vegetation. The lake waters have a nice temperature and water activities can be performed such as kayaking and sailing.

On the other hand, there are also attractions in Pucon such as Playa Grande, with a span of 4 kilometers and extends through an area of native forest that reaches the river Trancura. Here you can also do water sports with jet skis, windsurfing and sailing.

Pucón offers attractive shopping centers and beautiful streets that retain the alpine mountain style of other cities such as San Martin de los Andes and San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina. In addition, it features a casino with modern installations and attractive gaming machines.

Other attractions in the area include the spa centers that are in its vicinity, such as the Termas Geométricas and the Termas de Palguin (both Springs). In addition, the natural areas surrounding both towns, such as the Villarrica and Huerquehue National Parks which are a major attraction for nature lovers, photography and recreation activities.

Volcanoes of the sector such as Villarrica, Lanin and Quetrupillán have trails to climb, where you can explore volcanic caves, practice snow sports during the winter in the Pucon Ski Center and fabulous views of the coniferous forests, lakes, rivers and snowy mountains og the 9th region.

Recommendations

Economy:

 

In Villarrica and Pucon there are money exchange offices to exchange money, ATMs and most shops accept credit cards. As always, it is recommended that if you take a trip to rural areas, it is recommended to carry cash.

Transportation:

 

 

The city of Villarrica has a transportation system that allows you to reach all the surrounding areas in microbus, taxis or radiotaxis.

 

Moreover, It is possible to reach Villarica through buses arriving from Santiago or even from Argentina, via Route 5 Sur, Autopista de la Araucanía or Ruta Interlagos

By plane you can arrive from Santiago to the Maquehue Airport in Temuco and after travel 87 kilometers by land to the south.

Communication:

 

The dialing code of Villarrica and Pucon is 45. To call from abroad, first you must dial the international code of Chile which is 56, then the Villarica code and finally the telephone number.

 

Where and what to eat

In Villarrica and Pucon you can enjoy the same traditional Chilean gastronomy than in other southern cities, with dishes such as veal or chicken cazuela, charquicán, humitas, carbonada and estofado (stew), among others.

In this area the elements of the native Mapuche gastronomy has been appraised once again, known as Chilean and Mapuche fusion cuisine. This is achieved by adding new flavors to traditional preparations, such as myrtle and pine nuts, cooked in clay items for warmth and artisanal flavor preparations.

In the area fish like smoked salmon, obtained from fishing in lakes and rivers nearby are also consumed.

The pastry, which preserves the German style of the German settlers who arrived to the south of the country, can be found in fine chocolates, especially in Pucón-kuchenes and fruit tarts, cookies, etc..

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