Pucon is a mix of the playground of the wealthy of Chile and an ‘extreme sports’ outdoor town. The streets are lined with either high-end shopping (Reebok, Adidas, Patagonia -of course-, DKNY, Calvin Klein, Da Kine, Billabong, etc.), fancy restaurants or guide services. You can do it all here: rafting, climbing the volcano, paintball, horseback riding, mountain biking, zip lines, sailing, partying on the beach at the lake, etc.
The town has many nice buildings in a woodsy German style, and the town feels like an outdoor playground for the rich (like Vail, Teluride, or Park City in the United States). It´s also at the foot an active volcano, and the city hall has a light and warning system in the event there’s a need for an evacuation. We wondered what would happen if the light changed from green to red while we were happily sleeping in the middle of the night, but there’s also a siren in case your not just staring at the light waiting for something to happen. There are pictures of the guide from our hostel fleeing from lava with terrified tourists who had signed up to climb the volcano. Lava also destroyed a ski resort in the 1970s, but it has since been re-built. While we were there, we saw puffs of steam (you can see them in the photo above), but no lava.
We took a side trip to the town of Curarrehue, which has museum of the fiercely independent local Mapuches. They’re also known for eating pinoñes (pine nuts from the araucaria tree), so we ate some pastries and foods made with these large pine nuts.
We’ve rested from our backpacking trip and we since our budget doesn’t include the arms and legs required to pay for these ‘eco’ adventures, we’re moving on and getting ready to head down to Puerto Montt, and the Island of Chiloe…