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Pucon

            Villarrica Volcano eruption on March 3, 2015

Departing the ship in Valparaiso, we taxied to the local bus terminal.  Traveling by one of the numerous buses leaving every few minutes, we headed to Santiago.  Regional buses in this part of the world are clean, prompt and inexpensive.  It cost $10 to travel by taxi to the local terminal, yet it cost only $9, for both of us, for the 1 1/2 hour trip to Santiago.  We then traveled from Santiago by plane to Temuco, where we rented a car to drive south into the Lakes Region.

Driving into Villarrica, along the lakefront, we were confused by the volcano picturesquely standing on the opposite side of Villarrica Lake.  Villarrica volcano is known for it's snow-capped peak, and for the constant flow of smoke.  Yet the volcano was displaying neither of these features.  After enjoying a leisurely lunch along the waterfront, we continued our drive into Pucon, where the mystery was soon solved.  Arriving at our hostal, our host excitedly explained, "The volcano erupted 3 days ago!".  At 3:00 AM, the town was awoken by rumbling, and then the volcano began spewing lava and ash.  As the guests hurriedly packed, and fled the town (never to return), the locals cautiously photographed and monitored the situation.

Known for adventure tourism, Pucon is typically packed during the months of January and February with climbers, zip-liners, backpackers, and white-water enthusiasts.  From July to September, their winter months, the volcano is popular for skiing.  Arriving a few days past high summer season, and with the area under "red alert", the town was quiet.  With the National Park closed due to the alert status, our activities were restricted to exploring the town.  There are also a number of "natural" hot spas in the area, but all the destinations we explored had been developed as high-end resort operations.  Surely, with local knowledge, there are some delightful natural spas still hidden away.

With 2000 volcanos in Chili, most are dormant but around 500 are considered "potentially" active and 36 are currently active.  Villarrica is one of the most active volcanoes in Chili, with 65 eruptions since the first one recorded, in 1558.  This latest eruption was minor, and thankfully, there were no deaths contributed to this activity.

We are moving next to Puerto Varas, home to the Osorno volcano, with the Calbuco and Tronador volcanoes within view.


Volcano view from our window at the hostal
    Along the lakefront in Villarrica 
    On the lakefront in Pucon
  local bird

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