In this post you will find everything you need to know to start your feat of ascent to the Villarrica volcano, the most active volcano in Chile.
The Villarrica volcano, also known as Ruka Pillán (“the house of the spirit” in Mapudungún, the local language), is one of the major attractions of adventure tourism in Pucón.
With more than 2,800 meters above sea level and its fumaroles that never stop, it is the giant that watches over the cities of Pucón and Villarrica day and night.
Every year travelers from all over the world arrive with the intention of conquering the giant, becoming one of the favorite activities of the most adventurous, because thanks to the professionals in charge, both beginners and experts have the opportunity to enjoy and reach the top.
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Did you know that the Villarrica Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in South America?
Chile, being a country located in the cord of fire, has more than 2000 volcanoes, where around 500 are geothermally active; being the Villarrica and the Llaima, also located in the south of Chile, the most active in the continent. Which definitely adds an extra spice to the adventure.
Don’t be intimidated by volcanic activity!
Volcanoes in Chile are constantly monitored thanks to new technology, and tour guides handle this information as a first source.
And, if you are lucky, you may even see lava inside the crater when you hike the Villarrica Volcano.
Climbing the Villarrica Volcano, a unique experience
Unless you are a super experienced mountaineer, you have to hire a tour with a local agency to climb the Villarrica Volcano.
A good option is to find out and buy the tour directly in the city of Pucón, but if you are traveling with little time and want to secure your place, keep an eye on this excursion with a local agency to have everything under control in advance.
The agency will provide you with the clothing you need, to ensure that you have the correct sizes and do not have any mishap the morning of the Villarrica Volcano trekking.
Get ready to get up early!
The appointment is always at six o’clock in the morning at the respective agencies, to start the day with everything and see the sunrise from the base of the volcano.
The tour is simply beautiful, as you go up, you can enjoy incredible panoramic views of the cities of Pucón and Villarrica; of the surrounding lakes, such as the Caburgua, Calafquen and of course, Lake Villarrica. You will also be able to see other volcanoes such as Lanín and Llaima.
🔎 Fan of volcanoes? Take a look at this article to visit the Lanin Volcano on the Argentine side.
Never trekked before? Don’t have equipment? Don’t worry!
Hundreds of travelers and tourists come for the first time to climb the Villarrica volcano and the guides know it, so they are very patient and very careful when giving instructions and accompanying you throughout the tour.
The ascent to the Villarrica volcano is classified as a medium-demanding trek, ranging from 4 to 6 hours of steep ascent. With conviction and a good rest beforehand, everyone can make it.
All the tour agencies will provide you with all the necessary and quality equipment for your adventure, from gloves to crampons. Just bring your water and good snacks for the road.
How to descend the Villarrica Volcano?
Once at the top, the thought of descending for another four hours can be exhausting. However, you will be in for a surprise when the guides start arranging the different gadgets to start descending the mountain.
With large layers of snow, the volcano has one of the best natural slides you will ever see, just sit on your sled and slide down the volcano, it will take you half the time to go down!
Location, how to get to the Villarrica Volcano? MAP
The first thing you need to know is that to get to the Villarrica Volcano you must go to the city of Pucón, which is located 784 km south of Santiago, the capital of Chile.
If you are coming to Chile from abroad, Santiago will undoubtedly be your first stop. From here, you have three good alternatives to reach the Villarrica Volcano.
First Option: to reach the Villarrica Volcano (Pucón) by airplane
Unfortunately, there is no direct flight to Pucón. However, the nearest airport is only 100 km away, in the city of Temuco.
✈️ Check here for cheap flights.
From this airport you have several options that are available throughout the year, such as:
- Take a bus which takes a little more than two hours.
- Rent a car.
- Take a shared mode service (van).
🚗 Check here if you want to rent a car in Patagonia.
Second option: to reach the Villarrica Volcano by bus.
Another option that is always available and probably the most economical (depending on the season) is to take a direct bus from Santiago to Pucón.
The route is 785 kilometers in a straight line to the south of the country, and the buses take about 10 hours. It sounds like an exhausting trip, however, the overnight trips are the most popular.
Most buses offer “couch-bed” seats, which are very comfortable for sleeping most of the trip. You won’t even notice when you wake up in the morning looking out the bus window at the volcano!
Third option: renting a car
While renting a car is always an option, here are some factors to consider:
- If your plan is to rent a car in one city and then move to another, you should make sure that the company has a branch in the city you are going to in order to have the option of returning the car there. This option usually has a one way rate, which implies the cost of returning the car to the branch of origin.
- The route from Santiago to Pucón has several tolls along the way (approximately nine), which you will have to add to your budget.
- You can reach the Villarrica Volcano directly by car, taking into account that the trip will only be to the base of the volcano. Anyway, from there you will have a privileged view of its imposing majesty.
🚗 Check here if you want to rent a car in Patagonia.
What is the best time to climb the Villarrica Volcano?
The Villarrica Volcano has tourist activities all year round. Skiing and snowboarding are the most popular winter sports. To climb the volcano it is important to have relatively good weather, especially if you are a beginner.
Tourist agencies are constantly checking weather conditions to give the green light to the activity. If the conditions are not met, the tour will simply not take place. So you don’t have to worry!
That said, we believe that spring-summer, i.e., between september and march, would be the best time for a satisfactory experience. But remember, it is possible to move up all year round.
Some things to keep in mind for the ascent to Villarrica Volcano
- Difficulty of the trekking to the top of the volcano: Climbing the Villarrica volcano has a medium – high difficulty. In order to have a better performance and an excellent experience, it is recommended that you take care of your physical condition the days before, as well as your diet and sleep.
- Always hire a tour: If you are not an experienced mountaineer, it is your duty to hire professionals to protect your safety and also to obtain the proper equipment that will allow you to venture out with peace of mind.
- Bring comfortable clothes and a light backpack: On your ascent to the volcano, the agencies will provide you with all the equipment for the adventure, including a backpack. So you should only try to wear comfortable and not too warm clothes (three layers), which you will wear under the snowsuit that they will provide you. Don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses.
- Gas mask: Don’t be surprised when the guide hands you, among the elements, a gas mask. Being an active volcano, it is always releasing sulfur gases. On days when there is less wind at the summit, you will have to wear the gas mask on the last trip to the top.
- The Villarrica Volcano trekking is not suitable for everyone: Climbing the volcano is not suitable for pregnant women, nor for people with heart or back problems, nor is it recommended for people who have zero physical activity.
Other activities to do at the Villarrica Volcano
There are hundreds of adventure activities to do in the national park, among them:
- Ski or Snowboard at the Ski Center.
- Trekking through the parasitic craters of the Villarica volcano.
- Zip line in Villarrica National Park.
🔎 Check out this article about things to do in Pucon in 3 days, the perfect itinerary.