Check out the latest weather at: www.pucon.com/weather.htm
The weather in Pucon is notorious changeable and on many days the volcano is shrouded in mist and closed for climbers. During my stay of four days in Pucon I had one fantastically clear day followed by three misty and overcast others. The best advice is that if you want to climb the volcano and the day you arrive the weather is fine then go immediately to a tourist agency – don’t delay as you can guarantee that it will be closed the following day.
How much does it cost?
The good news is that a few days in Pucon is not going to break the bank. A good simple double room in a family run hospadajem will cost about US$7 per person per night and will often include an experimental Chilean breakfast (Old Chilean hands will be nodding their heads now whilst potential tourists should look forward to this rare treat).
Booking accommodation is never required in Chile as no matter what time your bus, train or plane arrives there will be a bunch of locals handing out cards for accommodation. After a few days of this you develop a sixth sense about who to go with. It’s perfectly acceptable to go and check out the accommodation with the person before taking the room.
My own experience in Pucon was that when we arrived I decided to ignore the touts and wander around the town a bit and see what I fancied (almost every other house rents rooms out). I stopped to check my map outside one typically beautiful house and before I knew what was happening I was being dragged in by the owner and shown ‘my bedroom’. I ended up staying there for four glorious days for about US$5 a night. Most places that offer accommodation will look after bags, wash clothes and arrange trips for you.
Eating in Pucon is horribly expensive (both Chile and Argentina are great places to go to lose weight). A simple meal of pasta in a modest restaurant set me back about US$20 – and it wasn’t that good. Most people made use of some of the lunch time special deals or ate out of the supermarket.
There are a number of swanky 5 star hotels in town but most people end up renting a room in a local house. There is never any shortage of rooms and prices range from US$5-10 a night per person. Simply turning up at the bus station and looking like a tourist is sufficient for any number of people to surround you offering a place to stay. After six weeks in Chile I never had a bad experience finding places to stay in this way (unless you include the mad lesbian’s boarding house in Puerto Montt which my girl friend swears wasn’t as bad for her as it was for me).
Travel – Getting There
If you are driving you will find Pucon less than two hours away off the “Panamericana” from Temuco in the 9th Region of Chile. By following all signs to Villarrica you will soon also see signs to Pucon. There is also the option of taking the pretty train route from Santiago to Temuco – but this is sometimes booked heavily.
Pucon is a good hub for transport. There are regular buses going to Santiago and down to Puerto Montt. Chilean buses are reasonably comfortable, reasonably punctual and are generally good value.
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How Long to Stay
In Pucon itself a stay of four days would allow you to climb the volcano, raft the river, sit in the hot springs and still have a lazy day to write postcards, drink wine and book onward travel. If you absolutely, definitely, must climb the volcano you may need to allow a few extra days for bad weather.
Where to Eat
Eating in Pucon is a bit of a problem and the few restaurants that were open at night were embarrassingly empty and prohibitively expensive. A list of places to eat can be found at: www.pucon.com/restaurants.htm
The following are links to tourist agencies in Pucon. Experience has shown that the tour companies are all pretty much the same and the prices don’t vary much company to company: www.trancura.com/inicio.htm
Travel agencies: www.chile-travel.com/tapcoutd.htm
Some basics on Pucon: http://www.chile-travel.com/puconpg.htm
About the Author
The author has traveled to about 50 countries and lived in places as diverse as Brazil and Japan. When not travelling he can be found writing sarcastic letters to Air Portugal or with his head in a map whilst nursing a pint in his local Cambridge pub. Travelling or not, he can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org