With adverse weather preventing us from climbing Volcan Villarrica, we decided to continue our outdoor activities by visiting the local national park located near to Pucón. We were up early with lunch packed to go to the Huerquehue National Park. Gem, a Dutch guy who is staying in our cabin at the hostel also came along.
To get to the local park we took the local bus which went from round the corner of the hostel. It was only a pound for the ride and there are a couple of buses in the afternoon to get back though there may be more during peak season.
The bus was pretty packed and straight away John and I looked around and noticed that everyone else on the bus was pretty well prepared for the conditions; by that we mean snow shoes, walking poles, skiwear etc. Regardless, we were looking forward to visiting some beautiful waterfalls and having a nice walk.
We paid the entrance fee and the park ranger explained to us that due to the high snowfall we would only be able to walk so far (about a third of the actual park), however those prepared with snow shoes might get a little further. As ever, we didn’t really think too much of it in our basic walking trousers and boots. We set off walking around the lake at the bottom of the park, we didn’t get far as a mini river was in our way.
Perplexed by this we looked for alternatives, how deep it was, could we walk across barefoot? Then John found the arrow pointing to the bridge, so we continued. Once we started to climb up the hillside the snow cover really kicked in. Because there had not been many people in the area most of it was untouched, covering all surfaces and hanging from all parts of the trees.
We stopped off at the control booth that was closed and then made our way to the first of the 3 waterfalls along the paths. There was no-one else around and it looked like the others on the bus had taken a different route as all the snow was completely untouched. So we decided to ruin it and make some snow angels. Why not? We were pretty much soaked through anyway!
We stopped for lunch, but due to snow everywhere we had to stand up and eat. We then had a game of kick the tree. Pretty simple really, kick the tree then loads of snow falls down, possibly dangerous but great fun.
We arrived at our first waterfall. It was pretty grand and very loud.
We then started hiking higher and higher. By now, the snow was almost waist deep for me and you couldn’t tell which part was the ground or whether it was thick piles of snow atop tree branches. We had to be so careful walking. But we managed to take some really nice photos – the park was like a winter wonderland. It was one of the most picturesque places we’ve been to on our trip so far, hands down!
As we were getting higher and higher, we bumped into a group of Germans with snow shoes and we let them lead whilst we stepped in their steps. But it was clear that it was getting a little bit dangerous. Soaked and shivering to the bone, me and John decided to turn around and leave the 2nd waterfall on our route. Gem decided to continue following the Germans.
We were a bit early for the bus which meant that we had to wait for around an hour before we could get on it. In the meantime, we were both freezing our asses off. Our waterproof jackets just weren’t that waterproof anymore and it was still snowing. Both of us were shivering so much and couldn’t wait to get back to the hostel.
Despite it being so cold, we had one of the best days of our trip yet. It really was a beautiful park and I’m kind of glad its out of season as we got to see it without tourist pollution.
Pucón is fast-becoming our favourite South American place!!