We left Bariloche at 8am because we wanted to be ahead of the other Dragoman truck travelling roughly the same route as we do. The reason is we are driving on our spare tire and in case it breaks down we want to have the other truck behind us helping out. Luckily nothing happened and so we arrived at the border around lunchtime.
We stopped approx. 15km before the border to have lunch. Since we are not allowed to bring any fresh food into Chile we needed to eat everything fresh. Today’s cooking group had also prepared some Hummus which was very delicious and a welcomed change for everyone.
At the border it was the same procedure as last time. First, we saw immigrations and then customs. We did a lot of border crossings in the last days, mainly because Argentina and Chile have both a length of several thousands of kilometers. Therefore, it is not practical to first visit all sights in one country and then go to the other one because this would mean you need to cover even more kilometers as we did during the last days. So this is now the third time we stamp into Chile. Due to the amount of border crossings, my fellow traveler Sarah from the US is already running short of pages in her passport. She actually has only two left. So Sarah reviewed all the stamped pages in her passport in order to identify any tiny space. At immigration she gives the immigration officer a big smile and kindly asks if he can stamp her passport in the space she has identified as appropriate. This worked so far. At customs we again needed to unload and x-ray all bags but in the meanwhile we are already very efficient in this procedure and don’t carry food products with us which can cause trouble. In addition our whole truck including all food boxes, the fridge and our camping equipment got inspected.
After the border crossing we continued our travel to Pucón. It’s a small town right next to a lake and the Villarrica Volcano. We were supposed to camp her for the next three nights but approx. half of the people including myself upgraded to a hostel or hotel. I actually don’t mind sleeping in a tent and rarely upgrade. But here our truck will be gone to get some stuff fixed (tire and exhaust break) since when we are in Santiago it’s Rosses 40th birthday and he doesn’t want to spent it working on the truck. Therefore, the luggage we need for the three nights need to be kept in the tent which I’m not really keen on due to space and security reasons. It’s also kind of nice to have my own room and a bit of privacy every few weeks, including access to electricity and WiFi. My research on Hostelworld turned out the hostel “La Bicicleta” is supposed to be the nicest hostel in town and so I and five other people stayed there. Interestingly a private room has the same price as dorm accommodation and so I made a good deal.
Pucón is mainly about outdoor activities such as rafting, kayaking, horseback riding, trekking, paragliding, sky diving, bungee jumping etc. There is also volcanic activity in this area, meaning a number of hot springs around the town where you can soak your limbs in. The main attraction is the climb of the snow-capped Villarrica Volcano which I and some other people in my group will do tomorrow. We will go with the adventure tour operator Aguaventura at a fair price of 40,000 Pesos (89 USD) a person. After the activities of the last days I actually don’t feel like climbing any mountain but I thought when I’m already here in Pucón I need to do it. Interestingly, the Villarrica Volcano is one of only five to seven volcanoes in the world having an active lava lake in the crater which makes it very special to climb.
At 8pm we had a briefing meeting for the climb. The volcano has a height of 2,847m but there is a chairlift going up to 1,870m which our guides recommended to use to save energy and increase the likelihood of actually reaching the peak. Everybody in our group will use the chairlift and so all of us will stay together. They also told us security will come first and in case of a weather change (strong wind, rain, snow) we might need to return without having reached the top. Also the guides will watch us walking and in case somebody looks tired he will not be allowed to continue the ascent. It actually happened in March this year that two guys died in an accident at the volcano. At least the weather forecast for tomorrow looks good (clear and sunny) so we are confident we will make it to the top. We also received our equipment for tomorrow consisting of pants, jacket, gloves, gaiters, a special protection for the bum when sliding, a plastic to slide on, boots, crampons, a gasmask and a backpack to carry all the stuff. The gasmask will actually only be used in case the wind changes and the smoke of the volcano is blowing on us. In addition we need to bring drinking water, sunglasses, sunblock and our own packed lunch which Jurie and I quickly shopped in the supermarket around the corner.