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For an unforgettable adventure experience we know you want safety, quality equipment and certified guides. Sol y Nieve offers all of this and more. With a 30 year history in specialist adventure activities look no further for the best option to fully enjoy all the alternatives available in Pucón & the surrounding area.

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This is a common dilemma for travelers anywhere in the world and it is no different when you are considering Chile and South America. Are you a backpacker stalwart or a wheeled bag convert? Or are you looking for something in the middle?

backpackers Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Pucon Chilewheeled bag Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Pucon Chile

Personal preference, duration of trip, previous backpacking experiences, choice of accommodation and transport type will all influence in your decision. Chile, and South America in general, is a huge geographical space to travel around and offers plenty of both backpacker style and more luxury travel options. Some airports are small and local, some huge and international. Bus stations are close to town or on the very outskirts. It is wise to do your research and consider where, and how, you want to travel. The traditional travel styles that used to dictate that backpackers didn't frequent hotels or carry laptops, or that luxury hotels are only for the over 50s with matching hard-shell suitcases, no longer exist, in fact they are pretty much obsolete. Today anything goes!

Here are our thoughts on the pros and cons of backpacks or wheeled bags for you to throw into the mix. We hope they help you make the correct decision!

Pros of the Traditional Backpack

Hands-Free – this is the biggest pro for traveling with a backpack! It makes buying bus tickets, flagging down a ride, filling in check in forms, anything that require hands infinitely easier. Note: this only applies if you are not laden down with a day pack and three extra bags hanging from your arms too!

Easily Navigate Stairs, Streets, Subways etc – this is definitely true, as long as you are happy to walk up and down those stairs with a heavy backpack!

Comfortable – if you pay good money a decent backpack that has been tightened to your body shape should feel great, like an extension of your own body. The weight should fall on your hips and not on your shoulders. Avoid cheap options!

Easy to Store – if you are going to stay in hostels then the space available for storage does tend to be fairly reduced. Visualize a 6-bed dorm with just two people with large wheelie bags or hard-shell cases opened up on the floor and you can imagine the predicament! You can also store your backpack closer to you on a train as they usually fit in the overhead sections.

backpack storage Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Pucon Chile

Perfect for multiple day hiking/camping trips – they fit in all your stuff, you don't care if it gets dirty and they have loads of pockets for rain jackets, snacks and water bottles.

Great for really rough terrain – there are plenty of places in Chile where the terrain underfoot is dusty and uneven. Wheeled luggage is not the best option if you definitely plan to move on foot from A to B.

Cons of the Traditional Backpack

Airline Travel – most baggage handlers don't care at all if your backpack was new and shiny when you checked it in. It will get thrown around and the contents dented. Be warned!

Packing Light – the larger the backpack the more stuff you can fit in it! Great! But that also means it will be heavier than you imagined. Especially after that "short" walk from the bus station turned into a 3-kilometer hike!

Accessibility of Your Stuff – even if you cleverly pack anticipating what you will next need, there will be something that gets left in the bottom! Always.

Cost – decent back packs are not cheap, at all. Shop wisely. See point on Comfort above.

Back Pain – it will happen at some point on a long trip with a backpack. There will be some days when you simply will not want to put that bear in your back at all. It is usually at that point when travelers begin coveting their neighbors' wheelie bag!

backpack bear on back very heavy Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Pucon Chile

Pros of the Wheeled Bag

Not Having to Carry a Bag – this is pretty awesome when you are at the airport, in queues, checking in at hostels/hotels etc.

Ease of Packing/Organization – packing into something rectangular is infinitely easier than packing into a stand-up backpack. Always. It also means that you can find something quicker when you need it.

Airline Safe – no hanging down straps to get caught in carrousels and no external pockets from where things can get lost.

Able to Pack More – of course this depends on the size of the backpack we are comparing it with, but as a rule you can fit more into a rectangular wheeled bag that opens up almost completely, but of course that makes it heavier when you do have to pick it up!

Cons of the Wheeled Bag

Stairs – standing at the bottom of a long steep staircase with a heavy bag is a travelers nightmare! It is true that most places have lifts that you can take, but there will always be somewhere that won't. And it will probably be on the hottest day of the year too ☹

lots of stairs wheeled luggage Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Pucon Chile

Broken Wheels – buy wisely and invest good money because a broken wheel is enough to destroy a trip... and may mean that you have to fork out for a new one half way through.

Train Travel Storage – almost all trains have storage for cases at the ends of each carriage but they fill up very fast so you may not have eyes on your luggage from your seat.

Harder to Store in Hostels – lockers are not really made for wheelie bags or cases, and the bed may not be high enough to shove it underneath. This is even more of a dilemma if you are on the top bunk.

Hands Full – if you have tickets in hand, plus a day pack, a jacket and a camera, you don't have free hands to pull you wheelie bag too. That is when a backpack really makes sense!

If you are still stuck there is an interesting alternative that many people go for when they can't decide: the Wheeled Bag with Backpack Straps.

wheeled backpack Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Pucon Chilewheeled backpack  1 Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Pucon Chile

However, (this is quite a big however!), it is common to hear that people never use the zip-away backpack straps. Ever. It is curious as one would imagine this would be the perfect alternative. The main reason seems to be that removing the straps and tucking them tidily back in again is not actually a very easy thing to do. It takes time and is often just not worth the hassle. If you can't wheel it for whatever reason, you can always carry it using the top and the side handles, so the hidden away straps do actually seem quite redundant and just add to the bulk of the bag unnecessarily.

So there you go! At the end of the day it is down to personal preference.

In summary: For long trips including multiple day hikes, hostel style lodging and bus or train travel, a backpack does make a lot of sense. For shorter trips (one month or under), with day excursions only, hotel or lodge style accommodation, and mainly plane (or hire car / fly drive) travel, a wheelie bag is just perfect.

Do bear in mind that a good day pack is an essential addition to both options and should be chosen with care. Don't choose one too big that ends up getting so stuffed with anything and everything that it ends up weighing over 15 kilos! And not so small that you can't fit in the day essentials such a camera, water, snacks, packed lunch, spare socks, wind jackets, extra layer and wallet. Good padded shoulder straps and side pockets for bottles are great extras. So are those that offer lots of pockets, but avoid those that have too many as the backpack can end up bulked out and square in size which tips your weight backwards and affects your center of gravity.

packable day pack Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Pucon Chile

When you come to Pucón and take on the full day ascent of Villarrica volcano, you will get a day pack included with the equipment that is provided by Sol y Nieve. These packs are the perfect size for everything you need and will stop yours from getting scraped on the very wonderful toboggan style slide through the snow from the summit!

5 sliding down villarrica volcano sol y nieve pucon

Happy luggage shopping! For more information on activity options in Pucón contact Sol y Nieve here today. We look forward to welcoming backpackers or wheelie bag carriers alike!

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The preparations officially start in August when the supermarkets across Chile are filled with mountains of national flags and an impressive array of paper napkins, plates, tablecloths and aprons all in red, white and blue. The section selling bbq tools, charcoal, and the grills themselves have suddenly tripled in size.

"Dieciocho" (18) fever grips Chile every September and is possibly the most popular national holidays. If the 18th falls on a Wednesday for example, the holiday lasts for the whole week starting on the Friday before and finishing (unwillingly) the following Sunday.

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Officially the holiday dates are September 18 and 19. The history dates back to 1810 when Chileans took advantage of the weakest period during the Napoleonic Wars on the Iberian Peninsula to launch an attack that eventually led to independence. The 18th is not actually the date when independence was officially proclaimed however; instead it commemorates the proclamation of autonomy by the First Assembly of the newly created Government. In reality Chilean Independence day is February 12 1818, but, just like in the supermarkets today, celebrations started early and since 1811 the "dieciocho" has become the annual event.

Many years later, September 19 was named "Glorious Army Day", or "Day of the Glories of the Army", in remembrance of the successful achievements of the Chilean military against the Spanish forces. Formal military and naval parades are held throughout the country on the 19th with tributes made to Bernardo O´Higgins, the liberator who led the fight for independence.

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Pucón is a great place to base yourself for the celebrations given that there is so much to do in the town. Even though everything pretty much stops workwise during the week of the dieciocho, tourist activities will be on overtime! We do suggest though that you book transport and accommodation in advance though as seats and beds sell out quickly.

By basing yourself in Pucón, Sol y Nieve can organise your activities and excursions around the most important dieciocho events that you should not miss out on. This definitely includes the "fonda". Held in public parks across the country, the fonda translates more or less as a community festival with food, drinking, traditional games and dancing.

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First on the list to try is a "choripan" (chorizo sausage served in crunchy French style bread). These are closely followed by "empanadas" (Cornish style pasties), and most definitely "pebre" as it goes with almost everything. Pebre is the epitomy of yumminess: finely chopped tomatoes, onions, coriander, spicy green chilli pepper, seasoning and olive oil. It can be used to dip into or to pour over, whichever you prefer it is irresistible, and will be available in huge quantities throughout the fiesta period.

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Local beers and Chilean wines will also be free flowing, as will Chicha – a fermented drink tasting deceivingly like non-alcoholic apple juice. It is not until you have been convinced that dancing the "cueca" (Chilean National Dance) is a good idea that you realise the "juice" is really quite strong!

If you prefer the harder stuff, there will be plenty of national Pisco up for grabs. Also watch out for "Melón con vino", yes, it is what it translates as, white wine served in half a melon. If you are feeling brave you could opt for a "Terremoto", (an earthquake), which is a mix of sweet fermented wine with a drop of Fernet, plus a generous scoop of pineapple icecream. Watch out if someone invites you for a "Replica", (an aftershock), as that is often served in a much larger glass!

After trying any combination of the above, dancing the cueca will suddenly seem like a great idea. Despite the fact that the dance is really quite a fine art that takes professionals years to master, all you need is a (willing!?) partner, a white handkerchief and the ability to laugh at yourself before you take this one on as a novice. It involves stomping your way around your partner in half circles whilst waving your white handkerchief around in a certain direction. Be prepared for the sudden change of direction "vueltas" and smile, a lot. It is most definitely something you have to try if you really want to feel the dieciocho spirit.

18 3 Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Pucon cueca

A slightly less participatory activity is the rodeo which takes place in a semi-circled arena where "huasos" – Chilean cowboys – show impressive horse riding skills in the ring. You will also find a multitude of kites for sale in the national colours, and may even be offered a chance to participate in "rayuela" – a traditional game which involves throwing round discs towards a chalked line or onto a suspended cord. The idea is to hit the line or the cord allowing for points to be accumulated. It sounds simple but it is serious stuff, there are over 500 clubs throughout the country and rayuela was declared a national sport by government decree in 1948.

If you make it through the fonda with its long night of eating, drinking, dancing and playing, there will be the military parade to enjoy the next day. If after the parade you need some peace and quiet to recover, there are plenty of spots along the beach or at the marina to while away some time and reminisce on your experience. With the Villarrica volcano backdrop watching over the town, Pucón is the perfect place to enjoy the celebrations in the midst of nature.

Drop Sol y Nievea mail herefor more information and reservations, and you can also ask us about organising your own private fonda at Sol y Nieve's very own bbq quinchosporting double volcano views, horseback riding and a games area perfect for the more traditional options right through to good old football!

Happy dieciocho!

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Those crisp cool winter days can often be some of the best for enjoying Pucón. August sees better days then June and July with less rain and more bright blue skies punctuated with fluffy white clouds. They are those kind of winter days that take slightly aback by that first breath of cold air on stepping out of your hotel or hostel. However, dressed up with a thick scarf, good gloves and some decent winter gear, you can fully enjoy the outdoors during this month.

Your choice of what to do in Pucón will of course depend on your interests, budget, people in your group and physical condition among others. Also, you may be happy taking in the views of the snow-capped mountains from the comfort and warmth of a downtown café, or you may prefer to get out there and immerse yourself in nature.

Ascenso al Volcan Villarrica - Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure 1

Pucón is surrounded by vast natural beauty that not only captivates in a visual sense, but can also allow you that feeling of freedom that we so often forget to make time for in our busy lives. There are various options for getting out into the wild. Our favorites are detailed here:

WINTER NARNIA IN HUERQUEHUE NATIONAL PARK
This national park, a firm favorite during the summer months when it is filled with tourists picnicking and hoping to get a glimpse of a Magellanic woodpecker in-between the trees. However, the panorama changes during the winter when the trails are covered with snow and the panoramas are crisper than ever. At times, even the two waterfalls along the trails can freeze offering an amazing spectacle for those who dare to venture to discover them!

Views of Villarrica volcano

You don't have to complete the full trail to enjoy this winter wonderland. And also you may be lucky to spot fauna such as foxes and the elusive pudú as it is much easier to see their coats against the snowy backdrop. Sol y Nieve offer a full day guided trek guaranteed to allow you to optimize your day, not to mention leading you to the best photo stops en route.

DOG SLED ADVENTURES OVER THE SNOW
Another activity not too far removed from images of Narnia and the white witch is a dog sledding adventure just 40 minutes from Pucón. An amazing experience to share in couples or as a family. After arriving at the dog ranch and meeting the dogs and your guide, you will learn the basic commands necessary to control your huskies when out on the sled. As well as feeding and harnessing the pups, you will experience a real ride over snow and through native forest which is guaranteed to stay with your forever. The day includes lunch, snacks and all transport and is a real must for those who are seeking something different.

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HOT SPRINGS
As detailed here in our previous blog, a half or full day visit to the hot springs is simply not to be missed! You can choose between various resorts that range from rustic pools to fully equipped Spas and massage centers. Click here to read more detail of our personal favorites.

hot springs in winter

Sol y Nieve's options for adventure activities doesn't stop there! Even on a winter day you can head out to take on the summit of the Villarrica volcano, or enjoy a full day horse ride finished off with a Chilean bbq. You can even tackle the white water rapids on the local rivers by opting for a rafting trip! Anything is possible in Pucón, and despite August being mid-winter you can make it happen with Sol y Nieve. Contact us here today to find out more.

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Over the next couple of months Pucón will host thousands of visitors who will be donning their ski suits and rushing up to the pistes to enjoy some quality powder time!

We have never denied that there are plenty of other locations in the world where you can take to the slopes and enjoy some great scenery as well as some entertaining après-ski. However, where else in the world can you find fresh powder pistes on live volcanoes? Our lake region of southern Chile has become a firm favorite for ski lovers from the northern hemisphere. Even during their sun filled summers, thousands of "northerners" migrate south of the Equator in search of that fresh powder fix! Add live volcanoes into the equation and you have a perfect mix.

Here in our region we don't just have one, but two, top class resorts to choose from. Read on to find out more!

Ski Pucón resort is just 25 minutes from the center of Pucón itself. With 6 ski lifts connecting 17 pistes, plus a 200m long x 50m wide mini snow park for ski and snowboard games, events, action & acrobatics, there is plenty to fill your winter days. The 17 pistes are distributed as follows: 4 easy (green); 6 intermediate (red); 5 difficult (blue) and 2 very hard (black). Of course there are also classes on offer, personal or group, plus daily activities for your skiing bambinos!

Ski Pucón

From the pistes the views are simply amazing. On a clear day you can see 5 volcanoes including the Osorno volcano near Puerto Montt. Not to mention Andean lakes tucked in-between ancient forests. Also, as a perfect end to your skiing day, you can choose from one of the main thermal hot spring resortslocated around Pucón and the surrounding valleys. Check out our latest blogfor more information on local hot spring options.

If you are still not convinced, throughout the winter season there are also two internationally renowned events that take place on the Villarrica volcano ski slopes: the free style Big Bang Pucón uniting some of the best skiers and snowboarders from across the country; and the Avalancha en el Volcán (Volcano Avalanche) competition which, due to the immense off piste space, lends itself perfectly for this free ride competition that starts at the crater of the volcano and finishes at the ski center at the base. For more information on the 2016 Avalancha en el Volcán event click here.

For more information on seasons, prices, equipment hire, as well as for daily weather and piste reports contact Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure here.

The other main ski attraction in our region is the Las Araucarias resort located 82 km north east of Temuco on the flanks of the Llaima volcano. This magical ski resort is located within the stunning Conguillio National Park where you find yourself surrounded by ancient araucaria trees and turquoise glacial lakes.

With 1 chairlift and 3 ski lifts, Las Araucarias is smaller than the Ski Centre Pucón, though it does offer 350 hectares of skiable surface area. The main pistes are punctuated by perfect examples of araucaria trees that seem to revel in the spectacle of dozens of winter skiers enjoying their domain.

Ski Las Araucarias 2 mapa

The journey up to Las Araucarias is an experience in its own right passing through forests of endemic trees and narrow snow ploughed tracks. Do check that you have the right chains for your hire car or truck though as it is usually obligatory to carry them. Sol y Nievecan organize transfers if you prefer to sit back and enjoy the scenery!

So, what are you going to go for in 2017? Skiing on a boring old slope or on fresh powder on the flanks of live volcanoes? No competition! For details on how to arrive, transfers in and out, ski rental and other local information, drop Sol y Nieve a mail hereand let us do the organizing for you.

Ski Las Araucarias 1

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Many people arrive to Pucón and head straight out to Huerquehue National Parkto get in their fix of hiking. However,Sol y Nievehas an insider tip which we are prepared to share with our loyal readers!

Just outside of Pucón at the base of Villarrica volcano there is a section of the national park that is home to some pretty fantastic craters. You can get up close to them on a short hike which will also allow you some great views over the town of Pucón, Villarrica lake, surrounding valleys and of course of the neighbouring volcanoes.

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This little known excursion is called the Parasitic Crater Trail, or Los Cráteres Parásitos, in Spanish. Located within the temperate Andean forest at the foot of Villarrica volcano this family friendly trek allows you can get close to these mini volcanic craters. Both the mini craters and the lava field they lie within were created during eruptions which took place many decades ago.

6 Crateres parasitos parasitic caves Pucon Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Chile

Just 30 minutes outside of Pucón the trek begins on a volcanic lahar which was produced by the 1971 eruption. This section is now almost completely covered over by vegetation interspersed by small lenga forests. After a short while you will cross a dried river bed before entering into a dense coigue forest where the path begins to ascend. As you get deeper into the forest you will cross various vegetation-filled crevasses where you can enjoy local flora and fauna such as the bright red flowers of the Chilean firebush and small, brilliantly colored lizards.

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5 Crateres parasitos parasitic caves Pucon Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Chile

As you continue, the forest of coigue gives way to lenga and a view of the Villarrica volcano and the surrounding valleys lies before you. In the distance on a clear day you will be able to see Caburgua and Huilipilún lakes, Llaima volcano and even the snowy caps (los nevados) of Sollipulli.

As the hike continues you will begin to observe the first vestiges of lava from the most recent eruptions. Due to the uneven terrain the path becomes slightly more difficult to follow but our guide will expertly show you through. After one and a half hours the destination is revealed: a series of parasitic craters ranging from 5 to 10 meters in diameter from which lava once flowed in both directions. Some craters are slightly eroded, while others are much more recognizable.

8 Crateres parasitos parasitic caves Pucon Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Chile

The whole trek takes around 4 hours including plenty of time for stops for snacks, photos and exploration. The walk begins at 1175 masl and ascends a total of 280m to the maximum altitude of 1430 masl. It is perfect for people who have little trekking experience, but also for those who have limited time in Pucón and want to combine two half day excursions.

You can wear normal trainers during the summer months, but during the autumn months we recommend hiking boots and walking poles. As winter advances, there is also the option to explore the same area with snow shoes (raquetas de nieve).

Contact Sol y Nievefor more information on this and alternative treks. Pucón is not just about that famous, and really rather challenging, one day ascent to the crater of Villarrica volcano, so help us spread the word. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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As you can see from the many blogs Sol y Nievehave published over the years, there are many, many reason to visit Pucón during the whole year. One staple on everyone's itinerary, regardless of sun or rain, is a visit to one of the many hot spring resorts around the town.

These pockets of peace and serenity really come into their own during fall and winter. There is simply nothing better than basking in 38 degree water while rain, or even snow, falls around you.

Some are built into narrow valleys offering glimpses of cloud laden skies punctuated by the rounded tips of Araucaria trees perched on cliff top peaks. Others are located on flat plateaus allowing for wider, more panoramic lush forest views. Some are rustic in style with minimal infrastructure and fewer services. Others are fully fledged resorts with fine dining restaurants and modern Spas offering massage and alternative therapies. Whichever you opt for, the experience is well worth that brief chilly moment when you have just changed into your swim gear but are not yet immersed in the warm healing waters!

Hot springs occur naturally when bodies of water found in the inner earth are heated by magma (molten rock). Due to changes in the earth's pressure, this water rises to the surface forming a hot spring. Chile's location on the Pacific Rim of Fire is well known for its intense volcanic activity, and the many natural hot spring resorts close to the town are testament to the ready source of heat below the surface.

The minerals found in these natural waters here in the south are renowned for their beneficial properties. Rich in sulfates they are known to soothe dermatological problems, can improve digestive complaints, and are also recommended for gastric, liver and vesicular conditions.

Sol y Nieveoffer return transfers to many of the local hot spring options. Here are just some of our favorites to get you started:

Los Pozones Hot Springs

Termas Los Pozones - Los Pozones Hot Springs - Pucon
Located 37 km from Pucón, Los Pozones features six natural stone pools with varying temperatures and is one of the most popular hot spring resorts around Pucón. Located alongside the Liucura river, the views of the surrounding valley are impressive. Changing areas are rustic and there are no other facilities such as a café or seating area. Take water, towel, flip flops and just the cash you need for the entrance fee.

Huife Hot Springs

Termas Huife - Huife Hot Springs - Pucon

A more developed resort including a Spa and restaurant located 33 km from Pucón. The ceramic tiled pools offer a more upmarket sojourn. There is a main pool flanked with sun loungers; another with a roof for particularly rainy days, and yet another cooler pool close to the edge of the Liucura river perfect for stimulating and toning the skin. Changing rooms, lockers and hot thermal showers are all available and the Spa has an interesting range of massages and therapies on offer.

Peumayen Lodge and Hot Springs

Termas Peumayen - Peumayen Hot Springs - Pucon

Peumayen, "A Dreamed-of Place", is located on the same road as Huife and Los Pozones at Km 28. Right on the edge of the Liucura river past the accommodation area, 2 small thermal pools have great views up- and down-river allowing for full immersion into nature. There is also an indoor pool close to the main reception and restaurant. If you plan to use both, take flip flops and something warm to wear while moving between the pools as the main changing area is located by the indoor pool. An award winning restaurant specializing in local cuisine with a French twist completes your day.

Quimey-Co Hot Springs

Termas Quimey-Co - Quimey-Co Hot Springs - Pucon

At Km 30 on the same road as the options mentioned above, Quimey-Co has indoor and outdoor pools, a restaurant and café, Spa services and also various paths through the local forest leading to viewpoints over the Liucura river perfect for whiling away some time before or after your dip in the thermal waters. Take your walking shoes and a good book as the park is perfect for spending a good few hours before heading back into town.

Menetué Hot Springs

Termas Menetué - Menetué Hot Springs - Pucon

This Thermal Park has two indoor and one outdoor pools, an convenient changing area as well as a beautifully crafted Spa offering a range of alternative therapies using mud, honey, chocolate and wine! The excellent restaurant is well worth checking out after your dip. Menetué is located 30 km from Pucón off the international highway towards Argentina so can be combined with your onward journey across the Andes if time permits.

Geometric Hot Springs

Termas Geometricas - Geometric Hot Springs - Pucon

An impressive architectural masterpiece, "Las Geométricas" is made up of 17 pools tiled with natural slate and connected by deep red wooden platforms. The location in a lush deep green canyon is awe inspiring. Two waterfalls and three cold plunge pools offer the chance to cool off in-between hot water dips. A café heated by an outdoor oven serves delicious but simple dishes and fresh coffee. Not the closest option to Pucón, these hot springs are located approx. 90 km away and require a minimum of 1,5 hours to arrive. The last 16 km are unpaved so if you take your own vehicle take care on the blind curves.

So there you go! Sol y Nieveoffers some great combos too such as National Park Hiking+ Canyoning+ Hot springs; or Villarrica Volcano Ascent+ Hot springs + Chilean Bbqare among our best sellers. Drop us a line here so we can help you organize your time in Pucón so you max out on the best things to do during the Fall season. Get in touch heretoday!

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Around and about Pucón there are many national parks and reserves where you can enjoy a full day trekking, or even follow a circuit and camp overnight. Huerquehue National Park, Villarrica National Park, El Cañi Reserve are in all the guidebooks and will never fail to delight.

However, there exists a little-known wilderness on the road towards Argentina where you can enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and Araucaria forests, as well as spotting wildlife that is curious to take a look at those who dare to step off the beaten track.

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This area, called Puesco, is actually part of the Villarrica National Park, though it is far from the main entrance located close to Pucón from where you can access the full day Villarrica volcano hike. Officially known as the Andean Lake Circuit, to reach the area you leave Pucón towards Curarrehue, the centre of the local Mapuche community. After around 40 minutes the mountains seem ever closer and you can begin to appreciate the spectacular rock formations called Las Peinatas (The Haircombs) and Colmillo del Diablo (Devil's Molar).

A Sol y Nieve day tour to do the Andean Lake Trek will stop at the Conaf information center to take a look at the small flora and fauna museum before continuing on to the Momolluco waterfalls and Quillelhue Lagoon. Both have viewpoints where you will stop for photos and also to fully absorb the magnificence of the mountains and rock formations.

By this point of the day you will be really close to the border with Argentina and are at the very bottom of the imposing Lanin volcano. A short walk will take you to the physical Argentine-Chilean border where we will see a Christ Redeemer statue that is testimony to the close relations between these two Andean countries.

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From there you will continue onto the Huinfiuca Lagoon trail which is relatively short and appropriate for all ages and fitness levels. At what seems like a private beach on the shores of the lagoon you will enjoy our picnic lunch with the Lanin volcano overlooking the well-deserved sojourn.

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After some time to enjoy the peace and the silence of Huinfiuca, you will leave the majestic mountains behind but will stop in Curarrehue at the cultural center and handicraft market to learn more about the traditions of this ancestral community before returning to Pucón.

This full day excursion that unites culture and nature allows both an insight into the local community as well as offering optimum chances to spot local fauna such as the Magellanic Woodpecker.

Well worth factoring into your stay in Pucón! To book in advance contact Sol y Nieve here. We look forward to welcoming you to showing you the lost wilderness away from the crowds!

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The Mapuche culture is alive and strong in southern Chile and offers a great alternative for cultural tourism when experienced with a knowledgeable guide and a well-organized itinerary. Sol y Nieve offers just the right balance of history and first-hand insight with their Mapuche Cultural tour.
First however, a bit of background...

The word Mapuche is made up of two words; "Mapu" meaning land, and "che" meaning people and refers collectively to different groups of peoples, from the North the Picunche, from the South the Huilliche and the Moluche and the Nguluche from the Araucanía region. Their ancestors moved to the region now known as Chile 12,000 years ago. They are the only indigenous group that withstood the attacks of the Inca and were never conquered by them.

Archaeological remains found date back to 600-500 BC but it wasn´t until Spanish contact in the early 16th century with what is now known as Latin America that great transformations to the society as the Mapuche knew it began to take place. Among the most beneficial were the adoption of Old World crops and animals, and a trade exchange between the Spanish and the indigenous population that lasted for decades. The traditional economy of the Mapuche has always been based on agriculture and they are also known for the beautiful and complex woven textiles which were an important part of trade for centuries, even before the European encounter.

Mapuche loom

The Mapuche continued to maintain their own societal culture and were never completely subjugated by the Spanish empire. By spreading eastwards into the Pampas and the Patagonian plains during the 18th & 19th century, the Mapuche groups controlled a substantial area, and therefore trade, in this geographical area.

Many altercations took place between the Spanish and the Mapuche involving spilt blood and spreading disease. Needless to say, many lives were lost over the years. After independence from Spain and the birth of the Chilean Republic, lands were bought and the area controlled by the Mapuche was significantly reduced to roughly the surface area that today is known as the region of the Araucanía. Temuco remains the regional capital and Pucón is located to the south east of the region flanked by the Andean foothills.

Currently the Mapuche population is around 1.5 million in Chile, and 200,000 in Argentina. According to the 2012 census, 37.4% of the Chilean Mapuche population lives in Santiago and the rest in the south between the 8th and the 10th regions.

Their language, Mapudungun, was first written down by missionaries using adaptations of European language orthographic systems. The writings that have survived often use different spellings and even different alphabets. Today, Mapudungun is taught in schools and is experiencing a revival. Signs in municipal buildings in the Araucanía region for example are printed bilingual in both Spanish and Mapudungun.

Mapudungun words

Ok, history lesson over and now it is time for you to reserve your excursion to find out more for yourself. The Mapuche Cultural Experience takes place in the Quelhue community just 2 kilometers from the center of town. Starting out at the Sol y Nieve office, you will be taken along the northern shore of the Trancura River where you will cross the new bridge, stopping to take photos of the old hanging bridge and the river below.

Mapuche 1

We will spend our time in the community on Doña Rosario's property that features two "Ruka's" – traditional houses of the Mapuche. You will enjoy a talk which will impart details of the culture, lifestyle, gastronomy and typical games of this ancestral race. The tour includes a typical food tasting, and you can also add on a Chilean bbq with prior reservation.

Mapuche 3

This half day excursion allows time to maximize your day by adding on one of the many other half day excursions offered by Sol y Nieve such as rafting, hydrospeed, horse riding, canopy or the unique-to-Pucón Villarrica volcano ascent.

We look forward to hearing from you soon! For more information and reservations drop us a line here.

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The Color Run has become a standard of our summer events here in Pucón after another successful series during the summer of 2016. Once again events have been scheduled across the country to coincide with the extremely busy vacation season. 2017 saw Puerto Varas integrate as new host of The Color Run fun. Sunday 22 January saw the launch of the race in the southern lakeside resort. Hundreds of runners participated in the "Happiest 5km Race on the Planet"! A series of 3 more events are scheduled for La Serena on Sunday 5 Feb, our very own Pucón on Sunday 12 Feb, and Concón just north of Viña del Mar on Sunday 19 Feb.

Gold, silver and rainbow color powders will be thrown around the skies and streets of these lucky destinations as the participants make their way along their 5km route. The first Color Run took place in the United States in 2011 and was inspired by international events such as Disney's World of Color, Mud Runs and Hindu festivals such as Holi. The concept behind the race is celebrate sport, joy and fun, and ultimately to reduce the focus on competition and encourage smiles and family fun while keeping everyone fit and healthy too. Sounds simple? It is! Sounds like fun? It most definitely is!!!

color run pucon 2016

Color Run staff are in charge of launching color powder at you as you run along the route. You can even do the race with small kids in a stroller if you choose to. Any child under 1,2 m tall goes free when accompanied with an adult and registered with the paying adult in advance. The idea is that you all complete the 5km route which terminates in a party field where all your powder sachets will be thrown at once to celebrate the achievement of the day! To see how it all happened last year at previous events click here.

You must register online with advance sales fees set at $ 10.000 per person, increasing up to $ 12.000 closer to the event. Each paying participant will receive a pack including a Color Run t-shirt, a sachet of Color Run powder and a wrist band which must be worn on the day of the contest. Then the fun begins!

Details to bear in mind:

- You must pay in advance online or at one of the designated sales points (puntos de venta) and collect your kit from one of these sales points up to and including the day before the programmed race.
- You can show a preference for t-shirt size when you register but Color Run does not guarantee that you will receive that size when you collect your kit.
- It is your responsibility to check that the wrist band is in your kit when you receive it and it must be worn from that moment onwards during the day.
- In case of inclement weather (rain, hail, wind, even if it is too hot!), the race will not be suspended.
- The color powder is made from natural components and is 100% non-toxic but could result in stains on clothing and hair. Please take precautions to wear appropriate clothing as Color Run will not be held responsible.
- Eye protection is not necessary but some runners choose to wear sunglasses.
- You can use cameras during the race but it is advisable to place them in a zip lock bag for example.
- If you suffer from asthma and or skin allergies please remember that participation is at your own risk and Color Run will not be held responsible for any ensuing problems.

There are limited spaces for each event so if you plan to be in Pucón then get online today and guarantee your space. For more information on last years' Pucón event, go to this link. And while you are online, make the most of your trip and reserve some super adventure activities with Sol y Nieve too to keep that spirit of fun alive for longer than just the day of the Color Run. Get in touch here today!

We look forward to giving you a fun Color Run welcome in Pucón!

color run 2017 sol y nieve pucon

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It is almost triathlon time again in Pucón! In just over two weeks the streets of the city will be cordoned off and the sidewalks lined with spectators who arrive early to marvel at the physical stamina and tenacious determination of the participants of the famous Ironman triathlon.

Held as part of an internationally renowned series of triatlons, the Pucón competition has been named "the most beautiful race on earth" by several independent sporting magazines. This world famous swim-cycle-run combo challenge leads the winners a step closer to the Ironman World final which, in 2017, will be held in Hawaii. Two dozen countries host qualifying rounds including around 130.000 competitors, all hoping to get through to that ultimate world final where they will have a stab at lifting the world title.

Ironman Pucón 2017

start swim Ironman Pucón

2016 saw the Mapuche community of Curarrehue incorporated into the 90 kilometer cycle route for the first time. This cycle route remains the same for 2017. This year the major addition is the inclusion of designated "transition zones". These are specific areas where equipment and bikes are picked up and dropped off during the changes from swim to cycle and from cycle to run. They are designed to make the competition friendlier to the local environment as well as offering competitors tidier and easier transitions between the three sporting elements included in the competition.

With returning champions already registered for the competition, it is once again set to be a fiery race with a close finish no doubt. Here is more detail of how the route looks for 2017...

Swim: The 1900m swim in Villarrica Lake is a point-to-point "M" shaped course where athletes will be required to exit and re-enter the water to complete the second half of the swim.

swim route
Bike 1: The single out-and-back 90 km bike course is between O'Higgins and Curarrehue. Entrance is by the new transition by Ansorena. The first part of the course will have athletes riding in town before heading out towards the rural roads.

b bike course 1

Bike 2: The single out-and-back 90 km bike course is between O'Higgins and Curarrehue. Entrance to the transition area is by Ansorena.

c bike course 2

Run: The challenging 21 km run consists of three (3) loops of 7 km's.

d run course

For further information click here.

As ever, for the more sedate among us, we suggest you arrive early as the front row track side seats in cafés and restaurants fill up fast. It is both perfectly viable, not to mention acceptable!, to install yourself at a table with a view of the race track where you can have breakfast, coffee and cake, lunch and afternoon snacks with beer until late. Even just watching the exertion is exhausting!

end swim Ironman Pucón

If you indulged yourself with zero extertion on Ironman race day we do challenge you to experience a little of your own extreme adventure by allowing Sol y Nieve to help you organize some slightly less challenging, but still adrenaline pumping experiences, for your stay such as the Villarrica volcano hike, horseriding or white water river rafting.

Contact the main office here for further information or click on the links above to get the low down on the options. Happy planning and good luck to all the brave Ironman participants Ironman 2017!

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White water rafting on the Trancura or Liucura rivers has been a stock "must-do" activity in Pucón for decades now! The first commercial descents began waaaaay back in the early 1990's, with Sol y Nieve among the first to offer those rivers to tourists.

As a result, rafting has become one of the most traditional, and best loved, activities around Pucón. The international white water kayak and rafting competitions that are hosted every year attract experienced competitors from across the globe proving how inviting, and challenging! the waters really are.

But of course you can go white water rafting in many other destinations so why choose Pucón?

Here are our 7 top reasons why!

#1. Really close by! Just 30 minutes after leaving your hostel or hotel and you will be at the river edge getting kitted up and ready to begin your river experience!

#2. Experienced Sol y Nieve guides:Their love of the water is evident; you can see it in the shine in their eyes. They seem to live for the river and they just love sharing that passion with you.

Gringo sol y nieve

#3. Amazing volcano views: Every curve of the river affords glimpses of the omnipresent Villarrica volcano and other surrounding mountains making the whole experience perfectly unique.

#4. Year round options: Trancura Alto (Upper Trancura), the high river, is a high adrenaline Class IV+ option usually available between October/November to May/June. During the season when the water rushes down from the mountains, the Alto becomes a torrent of rapids which turn it into true white water and therefore it is even off limits for those with heaps of experience. During those months, the Liucura, or Trancura Bajo (Lower Trancura) offers a year round option with rapids which range between Class 2 and Class 3.

Rafting Rio Trancura - Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure 2

#5. A perfect family experience: because you don't need any prior experience for the lower river it is great option for families. You do however have to be able to swim and be a minimum age of 14.

Rafting Pucon 2

#6. Bird life! An added extra on these excursions is the presence of various bird species that feed from the river and nest in the trees on the banks. The surprisingly large Ring Necked Kingfisher can often be seen gliding gracefully across the surface of the river in search of a fresh catch.

Ring Necked Kingfisher

#7. Well maintained equipment: Sol y Nieve prides itself on the quality of the equipment offered in all excursions. In the case of rafting you will get a wetsuit, neoprene boots, life jacket, helmet and of course the all essential paddle. Also included is return transport to the river edge, your bilingual guide, insurance, coffee and snacks at the end of the trip. All you need to get together is a change of clothes, swim gear, sun protection and a towel.

So there you go! 7 reasons why Pucón's local rivers are a great option for that white water river experience. You will find many operators offering discounts, combos and attractive prices, but do take care to look out for that value added element that is hard to put a price on, good old experience. And Sol y Nieve sure does have a lot of that!

Check out our reviews on Trip Advisor here as well as why we believe our Sol y Nieve guides are the best for making your rafting trip an unforgettable experience!

For reservations and further info please drop Sol y Nieve a line here.
Happy planning!

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For the second year running Chile has recently won the prestigious award of South America's Leading Adventure Tourism Destination!

In a battle to the finish against Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay, Chile came out top once again. This is simply no coincidence! The other countries that were in the running are amazing destinations with unbelievable adventure activities on offer, but after the votes were counted Chile stood tall in first place once again!

We have been shouting about the activities on offer in Chile for quite some time now, so it is fantastic that Chile has received such a significant accolade as it confirms what we all know here on the ground.

Pucón has long been dubbed the adventure tourism capital of Chile, so it is, simply be default, the most perfect place to begin your trip. Why not start off in style by tackling our full day non-technical ascent of Villarrica volcano?!

1 ascent villarrica volcano sol y nieve pucon

Here are our top eight reasons why you should do the Villarrica volcano ascent today with Sol y Nieve:

#1. Anyone can give the day trek a go! As long as you are not on crutches, have recently had back surgery or are really really really scared of heights, then there is no reasonable reason why you cannot get yourself up to the summit! There is no denying that it is not a walk in the park, and yes, you do need to be in relatively good shape, but a positive attitude is way more important, oh, and trust in your guide! If you still need more convincing check out our previous "Do you think I can make it?" blog here.

#2. Our guides are fully qualified, totally competent cheery fellows who have been up to that summit many more times than you could believe! It will actually harder to believe that they do that for a living after you have summited yourself and are reflecting on your day over a cold beer thinking "wow, what a once in a lifetime experience"!

2  sergio guide sol y nieve pucon

#3. Our equipment is well maintained, clean and cared for, and it is renewed whenever it begins to show signs of unacceptable wear and tear. You will be asked to wear a helmet, carry an ice axe and crampons, and will be handed a wind jacket and over trousers too for the descent. The amount of stuff you have to take with you looks quite a lot at first sight, but it is all essential gear and without it you are simply not allowed to ascend.

3 equipment for sol y nieve blog hiking boots gaiters ice axe helmet crampons backpack

#4. You will be able to peak into the crater and (maybe!) see this lava lake, usually! No other words necessary! That is simply really very cool! We must add that we cannot guarantee you see lava when you are at the summit, some days there is too much vapor, some days the lava is deeper in the crater than others. There is definitely more chance of seeing it there though than if you stay downtown wondering whether you could have actually gotten yourself to the peak!

4 lava lake ascent villarrica volcano sol y nieve pucon

#5. You also get to slide down on your bottom on a manmade snow toboggan run. That is more than cool (literally!) and is often quoted as the best part of the day by our clients!

5 sliding down villarrica volcano sol y nieve pucon

#6. You get to see views like this from the crater.

6 Views from Volcan Villarrica sol y nieve pucon

#7. This will never ever have tasted so good!

7 beer after ascent villarrica volcano sol y nieve pucon

#8. And while you are enjoying it you will marvel that you were standing right there not too many hours ago!

8 peak from Pucon after ascent villarrica volcano sol y nieve pucon

If you are fit, healthy and have a spirit of adventure there really is no reason why the full day ascent of one of the world's most active volcanoes would not be at the top of your bucket list!

While we are on the subject of awards, the vote is currently open for Chile to win the WORLD's leading adventure tourism destination! This time on a global scale Chile is up against Australia, Canada, Ecuador, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand and the USA for this even more prestigious award.

You can vote here if you agree that Chile deserves to come out top of this amazing list too!

For more detail of our other exciting adventure excursions such as white water rafting, hydrospeed, horseriding, canyoning, as well as the Villarrica volcano ascent, please contact Sol y Nieve here today!

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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For decades avid cyclists across the planet have taken on all kinds of terrain. Eventually they deplete their closest destinations and they begin to search further afield for new options. Chile falls into this latter category. Hidden away between the Andes, the Pacific and vast ice caps, it is not always the first choice for many as a holiday destination, let alone as a cycling destination.

However, over recent year's cycle tourism has become more and more popular thanks to the favorable conditions in Chile, leading to such great accolades as this:

"Chile leads rankings of best destination in world for cycle tourism"!

Recently published in the international magazine Cycling About, this ranking was created by asking cycling fanatics from diverse countries around the globe to nominate their favorite cycling destination on the planet. Chile was repeated so many times that when the final count was taken, it by far ranked number one beating neighboring Argentina as well as the United States (see full top 10 list here).

1. Chile
2. United States
3. Argentina
4. Tajikistan
5. Kyrgyzstan
6. Australia
7. Turkey
8. Norway
9. China
10. France

So what is it about Chile that lends itself to great cycle tourism?

Views, climate and nature are the factors that lead to the top ranking... One voter said that "if you visit Chile with a bike you will never feel so alive".

Another voter described Chile as a place where "nature reigns, the climate surprises and the views are nothing short of spectacular".

Atacama cycling chile Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Pucon

Patagonia, the Southern Highway (Carretera Austral), southern lake regions, Atacama desert and the Sico pass were all nominated as immeasurably beautiful backdrops. Of course you can enjoy these views without having to put in the effort of peddling your way over thousands of kilometers of tarmac, but the country is set up to receive cyclists, and nothing replaces the joy of having expended your own energy to truly immerse yourself in the raw beauty of Chilean nature.

Carretera austral southern highway chile Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Pucon

Pucón is a great base for peddling out from. You can do short trips such as a 19km return bike ride to the Ojos de Caburgua, spectacular waterfalls just outside the town. You can opt for a more challenging ride on much rougher terrain in the local national parks. Alternatively, and only for die-hards, you can take on the Ruta Interlagos (Linked Lake Route), which is a fully paved route connecting the regions of the Araucania, Los Ríos and Los Lagos... that means Pucón to Puerto Montt, about 1.920 km of roads showcasing the beauty of 22 lakes and bringing tourism right into the heart of a 500.000 population across the local communities located here in the central south. For more information on this option check out our previous blog here.

Road trip Chile 7 Red Interlagos lakes and volcanoes

So, if you find you have peddled all the places you thought you wanted to visit in the world, think again. Get yourself to Santiago and straight down to Pucón and take on our beautiful corner of the planet before someone else you know does it first!

For more information on day trips from Pucón, bike rental and general tips for travel to Chile, get in touch with Sol y Nieve today here.

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If you tick three of more of the following statements, then this is definitely the event of the year for you!!!

  • You are an avid skier or snowboarder
  • Your body doesn't mind being challenging to the extreme
  • You love being part of something super fun with other likeminded peeps
  • Your friends would say you definitely verge more on the crazy side of crazy!

The sixth version of Patagonia Avalancha en el Volcán is taking place this year between 12 & 20 September and inscriptions are now open! (Please note the exact date of the event depends on the weather conditions and will be confirmed closer to the time).

creditos-fotos Patricio-Garrido avalancha en el volcan 2

Sadly last year the volcano was still being monitored after the 2015 March 3 eruption so the event was put on hold until all restrictions were lifted. Villarrica volcano is behaving as it should right now so the event is scheduled for just a few weeks' time.

The idea is that you summit the 2847m peak with all your gear on your back, and then descend as fast as you possibly can on any route you see fit to take! Immense fun, definitely as a competitor but as a spectator too!

This international freeride can only be compared by the traditional Italian Caponi Dell'Etna race and unites skiers and snowboarders from Chile and across the world. There is no specific prepared piste, each competitor choses the route they like the look of the best. At one minute intervals participants hurtle themselves from the summit in a bid to cover the space between the crater and the ski cafeteria in the fastest time possible!

The backdrop over the Andes and the surrounding virgin forests is simply spectacular, but the views will be forgotten as soon as the descent begins and the spirit of the race takes over. The concept is simple: move fast and move safely.

1 - Views from Volcan Villarrica

As crazy as that sounds, the day is strictly organised and the various descent route options are monitored at all times. All participants ascend with qualified mountain guides who frequently take clients to the crater of the volcano. Each participant must carry their own safety equipment which will be checked on the day of the event by the organisers. Of course first aid and safety crews will be on the volcano at all times but as with all mountain sports, the decision to participate and assume all risks lie with each competitor.

For 2016 there are 80 places available only via prior inscription at avalanchaenelvolcan
Of those 80 places, 60 are for adults and 20 are for the mini avalancha competitors (11 to 17 years old). Places cost $ 80.000 each but if you sign up before 31 July there is a 50% discount.

In addition, the night before the race a base camp will be set up so competitors can overnight allowing for an evening of relax and fun where you can meet your guides and exchange your passion for the white stuff with other participants. For more information check out the Avalancha Facebook page here.

avalancha en el volcan pucon sol y nieve travel adventure

If you are intrigued by this live volcano but can't make the date for the Avalancha competition, feel free to drop Sol y Nieve a mail here to ask about options to get up there on the mountain. Meanwhile, check out our previous blogs here: Myth Busting Villarrica volcano ascent and a Behind the Scenes look at the one day ascent for more information.
Happy planning!

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You might associate Pucón at this time of year with just skiing and winter sports; and you are right of course! But that is not the only thing going for the city ... small as it is, Pucón has a surprisingly wide range of shops available.

So, if you are not so into hitting the powder on the pistes, here is our low down on where to spend a great day wandering around the town and choosing gifts, clothes and souvenirs from your trip :

Please note this list is by no means exhaustive, there are many small shops along the route that will entice you in too...

Mapa Pucón with shopping options

As we all know, a window shopping / store cruising day must start with some positive energy to get you through! We recommend drawing some of that energy by starting at La Poza (#1). This is the harbor for boats at the end of the main street, and is also home to various species of bird life. Before mid-morning there are few people around (unless they too are preparing themselves for a hard day of shopping!), so spend some time there taking in the views over the lake and breathing the clean fresh air before heading to your first shopping spot. Do bear in mind that stores do not tend to open before 10am so factor that into your planning.

#1a & #1b. Pucón is famous for the flower market that you will see as you arrive into town. What many people do not know, or do not believe until they go there themselves to check it our personally, is that the flowers are all made from wood shavings. They are crafted and painted and made to look like real flowers. They can be packed easily in a box so they survive the journey home. A perfect souvenir of your trip.

flores de madera 1

#2 & #3. Crossing the street you can check out the clothing stores Rockford and The North Face for winter gear, and if you have forgotten any essentials you can always pick them up in our small Falabella store at point #4.

#5. Over the street there is a gallery with small stalls inside selling a range of goods from bikinis and swim shorts to wooly hats and gloves. Interestingly, and despite it being winter, you may need all of these items if you plan to visit one of the local hot springs resorts during your stay in Pucón.

#6. Homemade jams and chocolates and other yummy goodies are up next at the small store to you right before arriving to the corner of Fresia with the main street Bernardo O'Higgins.

mermeladas caseras pucon


#7. Just around the corner is a large shop selling some quite unique pieces of house furniture such as lamps, tables, chests of drawers. Not the kind of thing you may be considering buying during your stay in Pucón, but you could find just that right addition to your kitchen or dining room among the smaller items in the store.

#8. Moving on towards the center of town you will find the first of a few t-shirt and hoodie stores selling colorful options in all sizes with "Pucón" and the obligatory volcano sketch printed in the front. They also have cheap and cheerful sunglasses options too if you have been caught out by our crisp winter sunny southern days!

#9. Some lovely handmade jewelry is up next at a small store tucked between an exchange house and a parking lot. They offer some beautiful silver and wooden items incorporating traditional Mapuche symbols too.

jewelry


#10. No town is complete without a book store and Pucón is no exception. Right on the corner is a large store offering books galore in Spanish and in English. You can pick up travel guides here too, and don't forget to check out the great souvenir coffee table style books of stunning images of our region and further afield.

#11. If you are looking for a map of the local area do stop at the narrow store just a couple of steps up the street towards the volcano. A great selection of local, regional and national maps for trekking, road trips and lake crossings into neighboring Argentina are readily available.

#12. Next up is a wonderful local market selling cheeses, woolen goods, wooden games, toys and kitchen items. Take your time to visit all the stalls and if you see something you like buy it there and then. It is not as easy as you might think to find the same stall when you return....

wooden artesania

#13. If you need to stock up on any remedies or have picked up a cold during your travels, call into Pucón's natural farmacy on Calle Brasil... they also sell local soaps and other handmade goods too.

#14. Right on the corner of the main street at the end of town is Patagonia Boulevard. Home to a range of shops selling roast coffee beans, fresh bread, kayaks and outdoor clothing, for sure there will be something there that catches your eye.

patagonia boulevard shopping pucon

#15. Over the road and to the right is the entrance to a fairly new artisan boulevard filled with stall after stall of locally crafted items. Well worth a stroll....

Way back along the main street you will pass #16, the Eltit supermarket. There are actually 3 Eltit's in town but this one on the main street is the original one and is still popular with locals and tourists alike.

Heading up Calle Fresia you will pass a shoe shop (#17) before reaching some small stores selling handmade leather and jewelry items (#18). This street will take you right up to Pucón's main square where of course you will find more stalls selling wool, wood and jewelry too.

After spending some time at the main square and also at the Playa Grande (large beach), head back down the other side of Calle Fresia to another handicraft market (#20). Here too you can find locally made food, wooden crafts, woolen clothes and other crafts that will catch your eye. Remember the rule: if you like it buy it. It either may not be there later or you will simply not be able to find it when you return!

#21. At the next corner as you head back down Calle Fresia towards the main street lies a wonderful little treasure trove of soaps, body lotions and scented candles. A great place for gifts and also the perfect store to find something to treat yourself after a long day wandering around the shops of Pucón!

homemade soaps shopping pucon

Back to the main street and you will find an upmarket artisan store located in a narrow shop. They offer some really great quality Chilean copper items which also make great take-back-home-gifts.

And so our shopping tour ends.... At #23 which is a coffee shop that has been gracing the corner of Calle Lincoyan with the main street for decades. With a perfect view of the volcano from the outdoor terrace this is a great place to take a look at your purchases and work out if you still have any energy left to do the whole shopping route once more in search of more souvenirs!

You are also almost next door to the Sol y Nieve office too so call in to check out what excursion is leaving later that day or the next . Go with the flow and get out into nature having now successfully completed your holiday shopping!

For more information on Pucón and excursions and activities available via Sol y Nieve, click here now.

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We have all waited a little bit longer this year due to the unusually dry June, but now we can proudly announce that the ski season is officially open in Pucón! On either side of the Andes the snow is falling and the pistes are open for business. There are many ski resorts on either side of the Andes in Chile and Argentina, all are located in stunning surroundings, and all have their own USP!

What is the Unique Selling Point of our Villarrica volcano and why should you choose to come to Pucón for your winter ski vacation?

Well, we must begin with the fact that Villarrica is a live volcano, yes, live! And yes, you can ski on it! That alone is one huge USP! There are not too many of those in the world. No lava pun intended, but that definitely makes Villarrica on of the hottest places to ski!

Ski Pucón resort is just 25 minutes from the centre of Pucón itself. With 6 ski lifts connecting 17 pistes, plus a 200m long x 50m wide mini snow park for ski and snowboard games, events, action & acrobatics, there is plenty to fill your winter days. The 17 pistes are distributed as follows: 4 easy (green); 6 intermediate (red); 5 difficult (blue) and 2 very hard (black). Of course there are also classes on offer, personal or group, plus daily activities for your skiing bambinos! Day passes in high season for adults cost $ 36.000 and for kids $ 30.000.

Ski Pucón

From the pistes the views are simply amazing. On a clear day you can see 5 volcanoes including the Osorno volcano near Puerto Montt. Not to mention Andean lakes tucked in-between ancient forests. Also, as a perfect end to your skiing day, you can choose from one of the main thermal hot spring resorts located around Pucón and the surrounding valleys. Check out our previous blog here for more information on local hot spring options.

termas-hot springs pucon sol y nieve travel adventure

Also, there is not only the Villarrica volcano that you can choose to ski on... our lake region of southern Chile welcomes thousands of winter visitors every year and has become a firm favorite for ski lovers from the northern hemisphere too. Even during sun filled summers, thousands of "northerners" migrate south of the Equator in search of that fresh powder fix! Add live volcanoes into the equation and you have a perfect mix.

You can also visit Las Araucarias resort located 82 km north east of Temuco on the flanks of the Llaima volcano. This magical ski resort is located within the stunning Conguillio National Park where you find yourself surrounded by ancient araucaria trees and turquoise glacial lakes. The journey up to Las Araucarias is an experience in its own right passing through forests of endemic trees and narrow snow ploughed tracks. Do check that you have the right chains for your hire car or truck though as it is usually obligatory to carry them.

Ski Las Araucarias 1

Corralco resort is also accessed via Temuco, 120 km towards the Andes on the road to Lonquimay and the Pino Hachado border crossing. With 6 ski lifts and 29 pistes for all levels and 1775 hectares of skiable area, Corralco is a great option for those looking to challenge their ski expertise.

Corralco

Why not create a combo trip visiting all three resorts so you can get the best feel for all ski options in our lake region? Pucón has unrivalled infrastructure in comparison with the other two. Many hotels, hostels, restaurants, hot spring resorts and alternative activities and excursions are all on offer just 20km from the ski center so we believe it is a great place to start. You can also hire a car in the town too to visit the other resorts, or take a private transfer with Sol y Nieve out to one of the other options mentioned above.

Convinced already that Pucón is the best place to start your southern Chile ski adventure? We believe there is not too much to think about...For details on how to arrive, transfers in and out, ski rental and other local information, drop Sol y Nieve a mail here and let us do the organizing for you.
We look forward to hearing from you!

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Pucón is amazingly photogenic at any time of year, but the Winter season is even more tempting for any budding amateur keen to follow in the footsteps of those who have made beautiful image collection books of images from our region.

The main reasons for this are :

a) you may still glimpse those Fall colors when the endemic forests change in a blaze of yellows, oranges and reds
b) there are fewer people out and about than there are during the summer months
c) we have so many of those perfect crisp cold blue sky days when the conditions are simply perfect for photography!

So where do we suggest you head to snap some unusual angles that will captivate your Instagram friends? Here goes our firm favorites :

#1. La Poza
Right by the side of town this haven is simply blissful. The sun sets over the lake towards the west so the Poza is perfectly situated to receive those sunset hues reflected in the lake itself. You can also get some great shots of the volcano from the far side near the Peninsula and play with reflections of the boats that are harbored there. The many ducks gracing the shallow waters and the Southern Lapwings skittering around on the beach also give perspective to the lake panorama.

Top tip : get as far out into the water as you can using the jetties along the marina front for a better view of the volcano itself.

1 La Poza

#2. Quelhue hanging bridge

Just a couple of km from the center of town the old hanging bridge has been replaced by a new version meaning that you can hang out on the old one without hurrying to make space for traffic. Take your time and wait for one of the white water rafting crews to make their descent under the bridge of the Trancura river. Play with your camera settings to capture moving white water while you wait - always good practice for the many waterfalls around Pucón too!

Top tip : Look into the shadows at the river edge to see if you can spot a Ringed Kingfisher as they skit along the surface in search of food.

2 Puente Quelhue

#3. Top of El Cañi reserve

This option does require some hiking but the views from the summit will most definitely reward you! A community run reserve just a few km outside of Pucón on the road to the hot springs, El Cañi was saved from the onslaught of forestry in the early 90's. Now this area is filled with trails, camping huts, hidden lagoons and surprise views of the volcano and surrounding mountains in-between the ancient araucarias.

Top tip : Stay still for a while and listen for the Magellanic Woodpecker. The male can be easily spotted by its bright red head. Perfect for testing out your zoom!

3 El Cañi reserve pucon

#4. Huinfiuca Lagoon

Huinfiuca is a great option for getting off the beaten track. Past Curarrehue, the Mapuche community just 40 minutes from Pucón, you continue out on the road towards the border with Argentina. Where you find the pretty Quilellhue lagoon on the left hand side there is also a small car park. Just a bit further up on the right is the entrance to a narrow trail up to Huinfiuca lagoon. The walk is fairly flat and short and opens up to the Huinfiuca lagoon itself where the Lanin volcano offers the perfect panoramic picture postcard shot.

Top tip : On your way back down stop at the Mapuche cultural center by the main square in the town of Curarrehue and take some arty shots of the detail of the weaving, the jars of preserves, and the piles of piñones (the seeds of the sacred Araucaria trees)....

4 Laguna Huinfiuca

#5. Villarrica volcano hike

Of course you have heard all about this amazing ascent that starts just 30 minutes from the center of town. Taking your camera along on the hike is an absolute must and gives you the perfect reason to stop, catch your breath and take in the spectacular views along the way up. Take a 360° video at any of the stops, closer to the crater the better, and you will marvel at how you feel part of the clouds for year to come!

Top tip : ask your guide if you can step inside the "capilla" on the way up. During the winter season there are often icicles hanging from the main entrance which make for an unusual frame of the view back down over the town of Pucón and Lake Villarrica.

5 Volcan Villarrica

So there you have it. Just a few more reasons to come and visit Pucón and our region with your camera in hand this Fall-Winter season. Book in now to get the best deals on early bird accommodation discounts, and get in touch with Sol y Nieve too here to reserve your activities and excursions from this fantastic list of options.

Happy snapping!

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What a better way to prove that we are doing everything we can to guarantee our clients a perfect outdoor adventure experience!

It is much better to hear how happy our customers are directly from them, rather than for us to tell you that we think we are doing great! These certificates are awarded to hospitality businesses that have earned great traveller reviews during the past year. They confirm that the quality customer service that we consistently strive to offer is recognised.

The Certificate of Excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travelers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

"With the Certificate of Excellence, TripAdvisor honors hospitality businesses that have consistently received strong praise and ratings from travelers," said Heather Leisman, Vice President of Industry Marketing, TripAdvisor. "This recognition helps travelers identify and book properties that regularly deliver great service. TripAdvisor is proud to play this integral role in helping travelers feel more confident in their booking decisions."

All that said, you may still be wondering why you would listen to Trip Advisor.....?

On the world's largest travel site what is said about your business online cannot be modified by the business owners. You are out there in the spotlight 24/7 on screens across the world. The only thing you can do to help yourself achieve the best reviews possible is to offer optimum service that meets the expectations of your clients. It is not rocket science, but it does require consistency to stay over 4/5 in that all important bubble rating.

TripAdvisor offers advice from millions of travelers and a wide variety of travel choices and planning features with links to booking tools that check hundreds of websites to find the best hotel prices. Their branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, reaching 340 million unique monthly visitors*, and 350 million reviews and opinions covering 6.5 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. The sites operate in 48 markets worldwide.

Of course, the best way to find out for sure is to come along and see for yourself! Book in today here for our volcano hike (check it out in virtual reality here!), white water rafting adventures and other more unusual options such as canyoning and hydrospeed. You could also go for a combo such as horseriding and traditional style bbq – perfect for families and groups of friends. We also invite you to check out our previous blog giving insider tips on how to choose a local tour operator... Sol y Nieve ticks all the boxes, but don't take that from us – check out our reviews here online!

We look forward to hearing from you soon. 2016 is the year to come and celebrate our certificate award with us here in Pucón! For more information, reservations or just to ask us a question click here.

*Source: TripAdvisor log files, Q1 2016

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If the winter vacation feels like a long long way away right now, maybe you should consider a fun break to Pucón towards the end of June for the 3rd annual chocolate festival!

What better reason to come for a visit than to see the world's largest chocolate volcano! Built by students from Villarrica with 700 kilos, yes 700 kilos!! of Callebaut chocolate, the enormous "chocovolcán" will be on show for the duration of the festival.

Taking place between 25 and 27 June, not only will you be able to taste chocolate at every turn, but you can also participate in the various workshops and chocolate preparation demonstrations. There will also be live music as well as enjoying watching the prizewinners of the kids drawing competition take on the mammoth task of ceremoniously breaking up the huge chocolate volcano!

If you are interested in sharing your chocolate items as an exhibitor then get in touch today with the organizers of the event here. There are some stands still available so if you are quick you could be among those showcasing your goods to the many many visitors who travel to Pucón to see the monster chocolate volcanic creation and enjoy the rest of the event!

Another great way to participate and get kids involved is to submit a creative drawing that involves the Villarrica chocolate volcano. How do they imagine it will look? There are two categories : 6-9 year olds and 10-12 year olds. All participants must submit their drawing on a plain sheet from a medium sized drawing book and indicate their name, age, school and telephone number on the reverse. Until 20 June all designs will be accepted between 11am and 6pm at the Pucón Tourism Office. First prize winners can participate in the breaking up of the real chocolate volcano during the festival itself, and they will also get to take 1kg of the chocolate home! Second and third places will receive surprise prizes....

chocolate festival pucon 2016 sol y nieve

Last year the chocolate festival was a huge success in helping to mitigate the drop in tourism arrivals that resulted from the 3 March volcanic eruption. In 2015 the festival took place in May and without doubt helped to restore calm among the residents, but also among the many tourists who traveled to Pucón and saw for themselves that life continued as normal.

So come and take part. Not only will you have a great time and eat loads of chocolate, but you will also be helping Pucón to show the world what the locals have known for decades : that there is more to the town than beaches and nightlife during the summer season and powder snow and après-ski during the winter!

chocolate heart  chocolate festival pucon 2016 sol y nieve

The event will take place once again at the Municipal Gym in Pucón on the corner of Alderete and Palguin streets. For more information on how to get there, and what else you can do during your stay, drop Sol y Nieve a mail here.

Happy chocofest Pucón 2016!!

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This is GREAT news! Just a few weeks ago, in a bid to strengthen relations with the US, the Argentine government decided to abolish the reciprocity fee that was previously charged to all US citizens on entering the country. This means that you can plan some border hopping while you are down here on your visit to our corner of the world without having to fork out that hefty wad of cash just to cross into the land of mouthwatering steak and fine Malbec!

How to get to Argentina from Pucón?

This is a frequently asked question in our area due to our geographical proximity to the border. It is really very easy and there are various alternatives to choose from. Check out your options here :

#1. Direct bus from Pucón to San Martin de los Andes
There are two companies offering this service from Pucón, Igi Llaima and Buses San Martin. The journey including the customs check and immigration stop takes approx. 4,5 hours. You will enjoy views of Lanin volcano and the ancient araucarias adorning the Lanin National Park as you climb and cross the border, but you won't have as much time to enjoy them as you would if you choose option #2...

2 Lanin volcano

#2. Private transfer from Pucón to San Martin de los Andes
You will follow the same route as the public bus as detailed in #1, but you will have time to stop wherever you like to take photos of the stunning scenery in the national park. You could even coordinate in advance to add on a stop at Quilellhue lagoon where you can also head out for a 1,5 hour return hike in a little frequented area called Huinfiuca. The other bonus is that you will not spend as much time at the border itself waiting in line with everyone else on the public bus to do immigration paperwork and go through the customs check!

2 Huinfiuca Lagoon

#3. Local bus and ferry from Puerto Fuy to Puerto Pirihueico
This is quite an adventurous option that might even have you hitchhiking if you really want to live on the edge! You can take a local bus from Pucón to Panguipulli, a picturesque town on the shores of the lake of the same name. From there take another even more "local" bus to Puerto Fuy located at the western tip of Lake Pirihueico. The ferry that crosses the lake leaves two or three times a day, that depends on the time of year. It is a wonderful crossing taking around 1,5 hours and is a truly magical experience. On docking at Puerto Pirihueico you head to Hua Hum International border crossing where you do all the normal paperwork and from there you can hitch or try your luck with local transport onwards to San Martin. For more info on the ferry crossing click here.

3 PuertoFuyPirihueico

#4. Bus from Pucón to Osorno and onwards international bus to Bariloche
From Pucón buses with Turbus, Jac Bus or Pullman head quite frequently to Osorno about 3,5 hours south. The journey is not the most exciting of the choices available to you as it is mainly highway once you connect with the Ruta 5 after leaving Pucón, but it does get you there quite quickly. To connect with the ¾ day public bus transfer to Bariloche over the border you will have to overnight as, according to the current bus schedules, they leave in the morning from the main terminal in Osorno. For up-to-date information click here.

4 san-carlos-de-bariloche

#5. Bus from Pucón to Puerto Varas

Overnight stay and onto Cruce de Lagos lake crossing in a full day bus-boat-bus-boat-bus bonanza! Puerto Varas is a beautiful city nested at the edge of Lake Llanquihue. It is more geared up for tourism than Osorno with many, many hotels, hostels, restaurants, shops and even a casino, but of course with all that you get a much more touristy experience, and the prices do seem slightly higher. You can get to Puerto Varas by public bus (same companies as to Osorno) in 4,5 hours aprox. Then you will stay overnight to enjoy the sunset over Osorno volcano located on the far side of the lake from Puerto Varas, before heading off on the "Cruce de Lagos" lake crossing. This full day trip offers some pretty amazing views, but do bear in mind that you will be sharing them with dozens of other tourists. It all depends on what is more you when it comes to your travel style! The full day crossing does include the transfer right to your hotel in Bariloche so you don't have to worry about maybe having to hitchhike with this option!

5 cruce de lagos lake crossing puerto varas bariloche

#6. Bus from Pucón to Temuco and onto Villa Pehuenia via the Icalma border crossing
This seems really quite difficult to do by public bus so if you want to see as much of Argentina as possible then do consider hiring private transport to get you there. A small maze of wooden cabañas, B&Bs and a couple of luxury lodges, Villa Pehuenia is a delightful sandy little place set on the shores of Lake Aluminé. Your onward journey south will be a fun hop-on hop-off local buses right down to Bariloche via Junin de los Andes, San Martin de los Andes and Villa La Angostura.

6 Villa Pehuenia

#7. Hire a car to do some border hopping on your own time taking in some less frequented border crossings such as Carirriñe just 53 km from Coñaripe which links to the picturesque lake town of Panguipulli.
Hiring a car in Chile and dealing with road signs that other drivers ignore along with bureaucratic border crossings all on your own in a Spanish that doesn't sound much like any you heard before arriving to the Southern Cone is not for the fainthearted! It is most definitely an adventure and will take you to places that you a) can't pronounce and b) are so small that they didn't even make it onto the map! However, if time is not a problem then this is a great way to see both countries by getting deep into the Andes and enjoying all those square kilometers without cellphone connection! Just remember to check with the car hire company in Chile that the vehicle does include the obligatory paperwork and insurance to be able to cross the border. Without it you will most definitely be turned back.

6 paso Carirriñe

Whichever way you do it you will be guaranteed pretty amazing scenery as those Andes mountains are simply stunning! Sol y Nieve can offer private transfers with prior reservation for small groups to any of the destinations mentioned above. Get in touch here today to work out how best to spend that US$ 160 you will save thanks to the Argentine governmental decision!

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