It’s only about 45 miles from the border to Pucon, the town where we intend to stay tonight. Pucon rests on the shores of Villarrica Lake. It’s adventures sports central for the area, from what I hear.
You can hike the volcano Villaricca, or raft some rapids. You can zipline, hike, horseback ride and more. Or if you are me, you can stop to take pictures of the beautiful flowers all over town.
I love hydrangeas, and these are exceptional. Every shade of lavender, blue, pink, and purple. Anyway….back to the bike trip. We run into friends, Shannon and Josh, and their Golden Retriever Kaleb and get to say hello. And we stop by the lake to enjoy the view.
After getting my fill of tourists and tourist and tour shops, we decide to go to a quieter lake to the south and ride out to the other side of Volcan Villaricca.
We arrive in the small town of Conaripe and set up camp for a couple of nights. This small town is on the east end of Lago Calafquen. It’s a popular place for families to take summer vacation, and the beaches are packed.
We take a tour the next day to get a quick look at the Villaricca National Park and it’s old growth forest – they call them Millenium trees if that tells you anything – and then go on to the thermal baths of Geometrica. The campground owner, Osvaldo, is a great tour guide and obviously loves his country and this beautiful place.
As we get within a few miles of the national park I can see skeletons of long gone giant trees still towering over the green forest below. And then when we cross out of areas where loggin is permitted, the forest is suddenly as dense as I’ve ever seen.
This forest is incredible….and I’m so glad he brought us here. I wish I had time to hike it and to appreciate its full beauty. Osvaldo explains that the government is building a road through here from Pucon that will bring traffic through the forest but they will work hard to keep the road narrow and hopefully not cut down many/any trees to do it. And while I love the idea of getting people access to national parks, I’m torn when it comes to building a road like that through this sanctuary of trees.
Osvaldo takes us back down the road a few kilometers to where we turn and go to Termals Geometricas, a natural thermal bath area we have been told is amazing. We haven’t been to one since our friends in Ecuador, Roberto and Janeth, took us to one in August.
The guide book says this is possibly the best thermal pools in all of Chile, and after seeing it, I can see why. It’s stunningly beautiful. 17 pools lace their way up a small canyon over the vents and streams of water coming from beneath the mountain. Cold waterfalls splash down from above the rim of the stone walls and Nalca plants overgrow everything on the ground.