Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Villarrica Traverse

We're now back in Pucon after completing the Villarrica Traverse, a 5/6 day trek through the length of the national park, starting at the base of the volcano and ending up in the one horse town of Puscoe. The views along the way where outstanding and constantly changing, as we circumvented around two volcanoes and then went between several very scenic lakes.

We where a bit apprehensive before starting the trek, as LP had it listed as 'demanding', and gave warnings about the lack of water and risk of exposure. However it turned out to be not too hard at all - the trail was well marked, there was plenty of water around, and while we where pretty high up, the weather held really well (apart from some rain on the last night).

We started the trek straight after climbing Villarrica, and so only got an hour or so in the first night (tired legs!). Our campsite was right at the base of the volcano, giving some great sunset & sunrise shots. The next day was then fairly short, as we'd already gotten a little way in - we'd finished up soon after lunch, and spent the afternoon lazing around, trying not to get too sunburnt. Days 2 & 3 ended up being fairly long (9+ hours), as we where condensing the trek down from 6 days (LP recommended) to 5 (park ranger recommended). We where out in the middle of nowhere by this point, unfortunately we where joined by a group of guys on dirt bikes exploiting this - they did the national park no favours!

The 4th and 5th days where pretty straightfoward, with some great views of Volcano Lanin along the way. We finished the trek on the 'International Highway' (read: dirt road) linking Pucon in Chile to San Martin in Argentina, where we though we'd be able to hitchike back - no such luck though, not enough traffic! We ended up walking down to the one restaurant in Puscoe with a dutch couple who'd also been on the trek, with the intention of asking the owner to call us a taxi. Instead he drove us himself, which was an experience all by itself - sitting in the front, careering down a dirt road in a van with a heavily cracked windscreen and several additional holes to the normal model. Got back into Pucon safe & sound however, and then went out for a 500g sirloin, cooked as only the South Americans can. Photos up soon!

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