9.2723° S, 71.9776° W
LEARN EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIKING TO THE TOP OF THE LARGEST VOLCANIC CALDERA IN ALL OF SOUTH AMERICA WITH THIS IN-DEPTH ADVENTURE GUIDE.
Nevados de Sollipulli, or just Sollipulli, is an absolutely stunning (and massive) ice-filled volcanic caldera and volcano complex. Located just north of the adventurous town of Pucón in central Chile, Sollipulli - while definitely not the most famous volcano in the area (that likely goes to Villarrica) - is still 100% worth seeking out, especially if you are interested in seeing a slightly different type of volcanic landscape.
The trail to the caldera rim is less than 8 miles round trip (or 12.8 kilometers), with just around 3,000 feet of elevation gain (but somehow it doesn't feel that steep while hiking...). Plus, while the Sollipulli caldera is definitely the star of the show, along the trail, you will also be able to check out a large araucaria forest, take in some amazing views of nearby Llaima volcano and maybe see a bright blue glacier lake.
If this epic Chile hiking trail sounds like fun to you, then keep reading for our full Sollipulli hiking guide.
➳ Check out the Alltrails hiking map here.
\\ How to Get to the Sollipulli Trailhead
Located in the heart of the Araucania region in central Chile, the Sollipulli trailhead is relatively easy to reach from multiple towns - including the highly popular outdoor adventure town of Pucón, as well as the capital of the region, Temuco.
While public buses do run between some of the towns nearby, from what we gathered, it would not be possible to take a bus all the way up to the trailhead. It is highly likely that the closest you could get to the start of the hike if taking public transportation would be at the turn-off from the main highway and onto the dirt road. From that point you would still need to hike up (and we mean up) another 12.3 kilometers / 7.6 miles before ending at the national reserve and the start of the trail.
Therefore you would instead need your own form of transportation. Luckily, it is pretty easy to rent one in either Pucón, Villarrica or Temuco.
➳ Learn more about renting a car in Chile here.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS TO THE NEVADOS DE SOLLIPULLI TRAILHEAD
If starting in Pucón, you will need to head out of town on the International Highway towards the town of Villarrica. Once you pass through Villarrica, turn right immediately after crossing the bridge outside of town. Take this road (S-69) until it meets up with S-61 (approximately 38 kilometers / 23.6 miles later) in the town of Los Laureles. Do know that once you pass through the very small town of Pedregosa the road turns to dirt (it is quite washboard-y).
Once you get to Los Laureles, turn right onto S-61 and keep driving for about another 1.5 hours. Along the way, you will pass through the towns of Cunco and Melipueco, the former of which has a couple of restaurants and gas stations.
Once past Melipueco, keep an eye out for a large sign for Reserva Nacional Villarrica. Soon enough you will see a turn on the right onto S-571, another dirt road. Take this road until it T’s off with S-575. Turn left here and keep driving all the way up until the road eventually ends at the reserve entrance station.
💬INSIDER TIP: we highly suggest having an offline driving map with you just in case you get turned around on the backroads up to the trailhead. We used maps.me and had no problems making our way to the entrance station of the reserve.
TOTAL DISTANCE: 147 kilometers / 91.3 miles
TOTAL DRIVING TIME: 2.5 hours
Make your way out of the large city of Temuco on S-51, which heads towards the town of Miraflores. Drive S-51 until it meets up with S-61. Once here, turn left and drive into the town of Cunco. Just like the directions above, once out of Cunco keep driving on S-61 until you reach the turn-off for Reserva Nacional Villarrica and road S-571. Once on S-571 (and eventually S-575) drive for another 12.3 kilometers until you reach the trailhead.
TOTAL DISTANCE: 120 kilometers / 74.5 miles
TOTAL DRIVING TIME: 2 hours and 15 minutes
\\ The Best Time to Hike Sollipulli
You can hike the Sollipulli trail year-round - though sometimes the reserve does close it if there are dangerous conditions present (check the status of the trail here).
Between the months of December and February (summer) you can expect the trail to be relatively clear of snow and very easy to follow. We hiked in early January and only found a bit of snow right at the end - and even that was so packed down that we were able to hike across it with very few problems.
During the winter season (June - August) you will need to wear proper clothing and snowshoes in order to reach the caldera. Do know that there are a few steep sections along the trail that may or may not be prone to avalanches and slides, not to mention a fair bit of slick ice. If you are planning to hike the trail during the winter, make sure to come with the proper safety gear and an offline map (the trail may not be as easy to follow).
\\ What to Bring With You to Hike Nevados de Sollipulli
You will want some solid hiking boots for Sollipulli. While the trail is not very challenging, half of it is on old volcanic lava fields (aka loose dirt and sand). The trail can be quite slick in places - especially on the last bit of the trail near the caldera rim. Plus, there are a few snowy sections that can be slick when walking downhill on them. These hardy boots by Asolo should work perfectly. Check them out here.
Similarly, you may want some trekking poles - especially if you are someone who struggles with slick downhills or has bad knees. There were definitely a few parts where having that extra bit of support would have been helpful, especially on the hike down. These poles by Black Diamond would be a great addition to your hiking gear. Check them out here.
While hiking in the summer should afford you some awesome sunny days, it is likely that no matter the weather the icy wind at the top of the caldera rim will make you wish you had a warm jacket (or thankful you brought one). This one by Patagonia is warm enough to work on the caldera rim (and many other hikes in Chile) while still being small enough to pack down easily when you don't need it. Check it out here.
GLOVES & HAT
The final pieces of hiking gear you may want to bring with you on the Sollipulli hike will be a warm pair of gloves and a hat. This pair of gloves from Hestra are small enough to not take up too much space in your hiking bag, yet still warm enough to keep your hands cozy while up on the caldera rim. Likewise, this cozy and simple stocking cap from Patagonia should do the trick no matter how much wind there is at the top. Check out the gloves here and the hat here.