Monday 9th November 2015

Pucon means “entrance to the mountains” in the Mapuche language and that is really what it is! It is located in Araucania which is the northern region of Patagonia. Patagonia in some books is delimited in 5 regions: Araucania, Lake District, Central Patagonia, Southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Here is the map of the bus journey we took.

Valparaiso to Pucon Map

We arrived around 9.15am in Pucon. Here is the bus in which we travelled.
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We picked up our bags and with Fredricks and Helene started to walk towards the city centre. I went with Helene to Ecole, the hostel she had booked while Fredricks headed to a kiwi hostel right on the lake. We dropped our bags and enquired about the hikes. I was very keen to do a multi-day hikes of 4 days in the Huerquehue National Park but was told by the receptionist of the hostel that this year there was too much snow so it was still closed. It would have been cool because Fredricks was motivated too. I want to do self-hikes rather than the ones booked with agencies but would rather have hiking buddies to go with instead of going alone. So it could have worked out! Sad. Ma euh. With Helene, we decided to go see Pucon a bit. While walking the streets, I stopped at a pharmacy where I bought another 60ML contact lens bottle. Here is a picture of the pharmacy to show you that even in Patagonia, you can still find things. 🙂
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We went to the Conaf to check out maps and hikes but there was no one at 10.30am so we decided to go later.
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On the main street O`Higgins, we found a charity shop in which Helene bought a small pair of gloves and a bandana. There were lots of other clothes, including hiking and skiing type of clothes. Definitely worth checking out when you get there if you lack of warm clothes or anything! This was one located on the main street, O`Higgins street, on the left when heading to the lake, in the stretch between Arauco and Palguin street. We found another one later on that street on the other side of the street, somewhere between Fresia and Lincoyan street.
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We went to the supermarket to buy some food to make sandwiches. It was nice to see that there was so much food for hiking, compotes, lentils, rice, some dehydrated food, ready made soups in which you boil water and so on. And cereal bars! Yeah!
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Our snack lunch
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That day, it rained three four times on and off. Welcome to Patagonia! We ran into this bird I had never seen before. I learned later that it is called “terro”.

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We were waiting all day to see the top of the Villarica volcano. In the morning it looked like this, with the summit in the clouds. It is a volcano really close to Pucon. It is normally possible to ascend it to the summit but it erupted in March and the ascension of the volcano has been closed from February when they put it on red alert and is still closed 9 months later. We asked around and they said the ascension might reopen on the Thursday but nothing was sure. One thing is sure, when you walk around Pucon, you can`t help looking at it from every single corner you pass. It somehow drags your attention to it!
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In the streets you can see signs telling you about the alert status of the volcano.
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It is currently yellow.
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A shot of the O`Higgings street, the main street.
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A map of Pucon and its surroundings, with a list of some of the activities you can do here.
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We went back to the Conaf and this time it was opened. There were lots of maps inside.

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Here was the park ranger from Conaf who looked at the maps with us and told us about the various possibilities.
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In late december, when the snow is gone, people can do the 6-day Villarica Traverse hike. It is known as being quite demanding. Mid-november, it is still closed because of the snow. Pucon is at the end of the Andes so still gets more snow than further down south. Here is a map showing the route of the Villarica Traverse, the little trail of various colours you can see here.
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Here is a map of the area of the Huerquehue National Park.
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The guide told us that we could go for a day hike on the yellow path towards the Huerquehue Lake.
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What I was really interested to do was this blue loop we can see here when zooming in on the map. This can make a nice 4-day hike but unfortunately it was closed because of the snow this year.
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Another map of the area. You can see Pucon, and huge Lake Villarica, and where the Villarica volcano is and the Huerquehue National Park.
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We decided that for the day, we would just go walk next to the lake. We went down the Lincoyan street on which the Conaf was located and arrived at the lake. It was raining quite a bit when we got there so we spent 10 minutes under the shelter of a roof next to the lake. Then we walked next to it, towards the right. The sand was black but not really sand, more like if people had dumped some black gravels they use to make roads.
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Arriving on little paths to the right of the lake.
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There were a few of this bird which has the shape of an ibis a little bit but looks very different. I had never seen it before.
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We also saw a lot of green lorikeets which had some red colour under their tail.
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A coloured tree Helene spotted.
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The lake
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View from the right of the lake with the Villarica volcano in the background.
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Continuing on the path
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Some water to the left
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We arrived in this meadow where we had this view to our left
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We saw this small bird which was really far on a branch, two of them actually, maybe male and female.
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Lots of cows in the field. Two dogs came walking with us, and of course one of the favourite game of the dogs is to go chase cows.
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This moment reminded me of Lucho and Chatine, the 2 dogs who had come with us on the Santa Cruz trek and had kept chasing cows too!
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The Villaria volcano again. We were really hoping that soon we could see its summit so we sat down there and had a snack and kept looking at it but this still didn`t happen, the summit remained hidden.
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There was this moment on the way back where we were about to walk on this big wood branch which served like a small bridge above the river. One of the dogs went on it and suddenly, we saw him hesitate and fall in the river. Then we saw three dogs which had been approaching and had surprised and scared him. They went away, he got out and was really wet! We named him “Mojado” for that reason (wet in Spanish). The other dog had brown hair and clear brown hair and seemed to be changing his winter hair for summer hair maybe. I can`t remember which name we gave him but something to do with that.
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They were afraid of the three other dogs and kept following Helene very closely like if we would be protecting them. Funny.
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In the distance, the three dogs we ran into again. They chased that dog which had fallen into the water, while the other dog just stayed with us, not really helping his buddy!
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Another local Pucon`s dog, back at the lake.
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The lake, shining, with the sparkles of the sun on the waves. The weather was getting nicer.
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An advert in the street. Not sure to what we should say yes, but yeah ok I agree.
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Pretty flowers on a tree.
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Where should we evacuate if there is an eruption? Here is the answer, on another sign in the streets
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And some things to do when the eruption comes.
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The culprit. Still not showing his full face! Patience, patience. What a shy volcano.
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A street we took to head to the left side of the lake.
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The left side of the lake.
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Coots with a yellow beak.
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If you want to do a tour on the lake…could have been nice!
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A little park with statues of native inhabitants, the Mapuche.

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Most cables were hold by this little thing, probably because of the wind.
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I lost my sunglasses during that little stroll, I had stupidly put them in the left pocket of my pant while walking. So we went back to the charity shop and I bought a new pair. I was lucky, it wasn’t too bad, a Salomon polarised pair of sunglasses which I think was actually even better than mine! Then we went to have a beer. First Austral Patagonian beer, yeah!
And…the Villarica volcano finally showed itself entirely. So pretty!
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We wanted to cook for dinner but there was no kitchen in the hostel where we were staying. I thought, hey, why not use my stove? I still stupidly have been carrying it for so long and still haven`t really used it. Time to do it! I also needed to check that the white gas I bought in Valparaiso is of good quality anyway, so we could just use it! We couldn`t even go pic-nic at the lake and watch the sunset! So we went to the hostel and grabbed the stove and one of the 2 bottles I had bought of bencina blanca. Then we stopped at the supermarket and bought some ready made soup so we could just boil water and pour it in the soup cups and bought bread, saucisson, chips and fruits. We headed to the lake. And here we were, on
the pier next to the lake, having our sunset pic-nic. And the white gas worked perfectly! Yeah!!! So much nicer that when I put some stupid thinner alias painting solvent in San Gil in Colombia and that had caused such a pain on the mountain when trying to use it at Pan de Azucar in El Cocuy national park, ahahahaha. I had what`s apped Fredricks and he joined us. He had booked to go hike the Quetrupillan volcano the next day so couldn`t stay long as he had to go try the equipment but joined us for a quick dinner, went to try the equipment, and joined us again for a bit.
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I forgot to take a photo of the pier, but Helene did luckily, this is the view we had from where we were sitting, the pier, a guy taking photos, the lake, the sunset. Pretty good spot for a nice dinner in Pucon! 🙂
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To our left, the view of the Villarica volcano.
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This guy went for a swim. We could tell he was probably swimming in the lake every day after work. Cool idea!
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This couple left with their kayak and a fishing rope, going to go grab their dinner, and who knows, maybe cook it on the kayak! So cool too!
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After our dinner, we left our pier and walked a bit to the right to still see the sunset.
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My new doggy for the evening, watching the sunset.
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New doggy posing with the Villarica in the background.
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After-sunset colours.
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Aurelie and Laetitia, two friends of Helene also living in Chambery, arrived in the evening, and helped us create a big mess of our 4-bed room. 😀 It was really cool to meet them. Somehow, we were so much on the same vibe that I felt like meeting old friends too that I had not seen for long!
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Tomorrow, off together to the Huerquehue National Park to go check out a few lakes for a day walk!