Pucón, Chile is an epicenter for adventure travel. The stunning landscapes to be immersed in and experienced, and town composed of adventurers and seekers from all corners of the globe, makes Pucón a place unlike any other. Close to Huerquehue National Park and located on the Southern black sand shores of Lake Villarrica, Pucón is surrounded by lakes, rivers, cliffs, and forests, with the Villarrica Volcano painted as a pristine backdrop of the town, just 10 miles (17 kilometers) from downtown. Pucón has every thrill-seeking or scenery absorbing activity that one could ever hope for, with a downtown melting pot of cultures, languages, and warm-hearted personalities. Pucón should be a destination on the list of every traveler. Out of dozens of tour operators to choose, Keteka puts travelers in touch with the most personable and experienced of them all, in addition to offering an immersive experience of the history and culture of the Mapuches.
Nowadays, Pucón is a developed traveler destination, with tons of activities to do whether in winter or summer. People visit it whenever they have an opportunity. But it’s important to mention that this city is in the middle of the historical Mapuche Territory. The Mapuche influence still remains in the area, more so in the surrounding cities, but also in Pucón. Temuco is still the center of the predominant Mapuche Territory. The Mapuches are a relatively well-preserved Indigenous Group, with around 1.7 Million people.
The oldest documented Mapuche vestiges are from 600 BC, and they extended all over the territory that is today central Chile and Argentina, from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast. The Mapuches were and still are warriors. They used to settle in different communities, and they even often fight with each other but came together on several occasions to fight foreign enemies such as the Inca Empire first, and the Spaniards later on. They were able to resist the Spanish Empire, expelling them from several territories and never surrendering their colonial power. And that brings us to our days, with some rural Mapuche communities still fighting with the Chilean government, with their main demand being the return of their land that was taken by the Chilean Army, privatized, and sold to foresting companies that on several occasions have no respect for the environment, causing damage to Mapuche lands.
Besides the Mapuche Conflict, their culture is very tangible in the language they speak, the Mapudungun, the medicine they practice, the astrology, the local imagery, the festivities, the food, etc. If you want to have a taste, visiting Pucón is a great opportunity, check our Mapuche Community Tours where you can spend one or several days with a Mapuche Family, 45 minutes away from Pucón.
But the traveler destination that Pucón is today started to come into fruition in 1934, when the Gran Hotel Pucón opened its doors, and this breathtakingly beautiful region became a tourism hotspot. For years, wealthy city dwellers would come during their vacation time to lounge on the beach and take in the views. But over time Pucón evolved into much more than a tourist destination for the rich and powerful; the landscapes of the region began to attract travelers from all income-brackets, backgrounds, and intentions.
Very few people are actually from Pucón. The people that live and work there year round are often natives of Santiago, who headed south to escape the smog and the headaches of the big city. Or they are expat businessmen who moved there to open a hostel or tour operation. Or a river guide from Colorado who came for the rapids, or Argentinian backpackers who came traveling through town, fell in love with the scenery, the people, and the onda (vibe) of Pucón and never left… something about Pucón has a magnetic energy that seems to draw people in from all over the world.
And it is exactly that mixture of cultures that makes Pucón fascinating place. There is a blend of all people from all walks of life who fell in love with the same city and landscape, and it creates a collective warmth amongst them. Life moves slower in Pucón, everyone smiles and strikes conversations, even if you don’t share a language.
Beyond the residents of Pucón, the visitors are an even more eclectic group; in not only in culture and language but in what they seek. Some travelers come to Pucón to skydive and rock climb and ascend the volcano, while others come to relax on the pristine beaches of Lakes Villarrica and Caburgua and Tinquilco and soak in the nearby hot springs.
Pucón is a traveler’s town. The beauty of the surrounding area attracts a varied assortment of seekers, enthusiasts, vacationers, and wanderers, with a cultural blanket of tranquilo and buena onda covering the city, juxtaposed with a rich history of Mapuche trial and triumph.
The reason why Pucón lures so many different people is because of the picturesque landscapes. But what is special about Pucón is that the landscapes are more than just picturesque, they are landscapes that can be experienced in countless forms.
One of the most popular Pucón tours is to climb to the summit of the famed Villarrica Volcano. What looks like just a friendly day hike from a distance, is actual and intense and physically demanding ascent that makes you feel like the protagonist in any adventure movie. The fierce wind, otherworldly landscapes, and altitude above the clouds, makes reaching the summit an indescribably gratifying experience.
Pucón tours also offer exciting experiences of the rivers winding through the surrounding national parks. You could take guided whitewater rafting tours down thrilling class IV and V rapids, or for the faint of heart take a gentler route down class III and lower whitewater. When rafting wasn’t enough for New Zealand, they invented hydrospeeding, which is essentially descending whitewater rapids on a boogie board, and Pucón tours popularly offer this revolutionary adventure sport.
But the waterways of Pucón don’t have to be experienced only through thrill seeking. Kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals and tours can be easily obtained, and you can gently float and paddle the lakes and rivers surrounding Pucón and breathe in the rich scenery. Pucón is also a key destination for fly-fishermen and other anglers, with schools of salmon and trout swimming through the lakes and rivers. Or just simply take a lazy day with a few cervezas and lounge on the black beach of Lake Villarrica or Playa Blanca on Lake Caburgua or any of the other nearby beaches and lakes.
Since Pucón is located on a volcanic fault line, there are also a plethora of hot springs smattered throughout the beautiful forests and countryside, where you can relax and let your body absorb the heat and the minerals from these natural wonders.
You can also spend a day hiking through the breathtakingly gorgeous Huerquehue National Park. Or take horseback rides through the mountains to various picturesque vantage points and take in the sweeping vistas.
Other Pucón tours consist of mountain biking and canopy ziplining. Or if you visit in the wintertime, it is very popular to snowboard and ski Pucón on the volcano, an experience of a lifetime.
Beyond the adventuring and absorbing the scenery, the city of Pucón offers plenty to do. Walk up and down O’Higgins, Pucón’s main street, and take your pick of dozens of restaurants and bars. During the summertime and peak season (January to March), Pucón has a vibrant nightlife, centered around Mamas and Tapas, a restaurant, bar, and nightclub.
Because it is such a popular destination, Pucón has a plethora of locations to eat and drink. The blending of people and cultures in Pucón creates a beautiful blend of cuisine, with almost too many international picks to choose from walking down O’Higgins. From the traditional Peruvian restaurant, Vive Peru! to the decadent Pizza Cala pizza parlor, to a Chilean spin on the burger joint Rap Hamburger, Pucón has it all.
If you’re looking for a quick, cheap bite to eat, get off the main drag onto the side streets and pick up a quick sandwich or smothered papas fritas from one of the various, more affordable restaurants. Or if you’re committed to a fanciful feast and exquisite experience, take a 19-mile (31 kilometer) drive toward the hot springs, and try La Fleur de Sel, a French menu with a twist of the indigenous, Mapuche cuisine.
Pucón is a remarkable place to visit year round, depending on what you are looking for. The most popular time is during the Chilean summer, from January to early March. The streets and beaches, rivers and mountains are swarming with thousands of travelers who come to visit Pucón during its hottest months. If you want to see the hustle and bustle and everything that this little city can be, go in February, the heart of the peak season of adventure and partying.
But, if you ask a local, they will tell you that the best months to come to Pucón are December and March. The weather is still hot enough to jump into Lake Villarrica, but it is before and after the town is flooded with travelers. School starts in early March for Chileans, so most tourist families vacate the city, leaving behind the same beauty but a slower lifestyle. You can get a guided tour of the volcano with only two or three other people.
If you’re looking for the unique experience of skiing and snowboarding down an active volcano, go to Pucón in the winter months, June, July, and August. The town is slow during this time, but under a blanket of snow, the landscape offers wildly beautiful and pure sights.
Being such a sought after destination, there are an overwhelming number of places to stay. If you’re coming during the peak season, it would be a good idea to book a place in advance, but if not, you could literally just show up to Pucón and start walking up and down the streets until you find a hostel of your liking, some are even themed with things like tree houses or rock climbing!
There are dozens and dozens of hostels to choose from in Pucón. If you’re looking for an exciting experience surely filled with a variety of travelers from a variety of origins, pick out one of the hostels on the main drag of O’Higgins.
Those who want a slightly quieter stay, there are also plenty of choices on the side-streets and on the outskirts of town that have less traffic than the hot-spot hostels in the heart of town.
If you want a bit cozier place to reside during your trip, there are also a number of resorts to choose from with your own room and full accommodations, like the legendary and historic Gran Hotel Pucón, right on the beach of Lake Villarrica.
During peak season from Christmas to March, flights depart daily to Santiago International Airport to Pucón airport, which is only three short miles from downtown Pucón. However, during the off-season if you are looking to take a flight south, you need to fly to the Temuco Airport, which is a two-hour bus ride to Pucón on a comfortable coach bus. Or, if you are looking to save a little money on airfare, buses depart daily in the morning and in the evening from Santiago direct to Pucón, which is about an eleven-hour journey in total.
There are dozens and dozens of Pucón tours to choose from, but Keteka only represents the very best. We bring you the most personable and professional tour operators. Another key aspect of the Keteka difference that you will not find on other travel sights or on Pucón’s main street, are authentic and immersive experiences of the indigenous Mapuche people.