9.2723° S, 71.9776° W
PUCON IS OFTEN TOUTED AS THE ADVENTURE CAPITAL OF CHILE DUE TO ITS NUMEROUS OUTDOOR ADVENTURE OPPORTUNITIES. BELOW YOU WILL FIND OUR IN-DEPTH TRAVEL GUIDE FOR PUCON AS WELL AS THE TOP 6 ADVENTURES.
Often touted as one of the adventure capitals of Chile (and sometimes even known as THE Adventure Capital), the small town of Pucón should be high on every adventurer's must-see travel list.
Located in the central part of the country and roughly two-thirds the way down from Santiago to Puerto Montt, the town of Pucón is very well-located for numerous outdoor pursuits; including, hiking and trekking, rafting, kayaking, canyoneering, climbing and mountain biking.
We decided to spend over a month living in the town, mainly in the hopes of exploring as many mountains as possible and working on our Spanish (as you would expect, one of those came a bit more easily to us).
While we were a bit surprised at the cost of living in Pucón (it is HIGH) we still greatly enjoyed our time there. And honestly, how could you not? The town is an outdoor adventurer's dream: from the dozens of adventure options to the plethora of stores selling any and all gear you would need (there is a Patagonia and a North Face in town), to just the overall feel that the town is full of energy (it also doesn't hurt that vegetarian foods are served widely and plastic bags are pretty much banned).
After a couple of weeks, we were seriously considering rerouting our lives and just putting down roots in the area - it was that good.
In this in-depth Pucón, Chile travel guide you will find information on (almost) all of the best adventures to be had in and around Pucón (there is a lot). As always, if you have any questions please reach out - we are always here to help!
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT PUCON
Pucón experiences 4 relatively clear seasons: summer (between December - February), fall (March - May), winter (June - August) and spring (September - November). The summer season is dry, hot and sunny, while the winters can be cold, cloudy and rainy or snowy (depending on your altitude). In fact, Pucón even has its own small ski resort nearby.
We would say the best time to visit Pucón is in November and December when the weather is super nice - sunny and warm with a few days of rain - and the massive summer crowds haven't arrived just (January and February can be absolutely crazy because of the high number of tourists). Plus, during this time you can still find affordable lodging, book fun tours the day of, and get a more authentic feel for the town.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TRAVEL TO PUCON
Overall, Pucón is a pretty expensive town - especially when it comes to lodging and food. We would say that you can expect to spend around $60 - $80 per person per day in Pucón during the busy season (this includes lodging, food, and tours).
If you are looking to live on the cheap, then definitely plan well in advance so you have more lodging options available and/or try to visit during the off-season (December - though still in the beautiful summer time - is much cheaper than January).
💬 INSIDER TIP: while Pucón overall is pretty pricy, there were still a few things we found to be quite a bit cheaper than other places (especially the USA); including, wine (you can easily find a good bottle or box of wine for less than $3), most fruits and vegetables - especially if purchasing them from the local fruterias, and rental cars (we paid roughly $32 a day for a decent rental car).
💱 Exchange rate (2023): $1 USD = 863 CLP (Chilean pesos)
TOP 6 ADVENTURES IN PUCON, CHILE
1 | Go for a Hike
Pucón is known to be one of the top adventure hubs in all of Chile - which is really saying something when you consider just the sheer number of adventure possibilities within the narrow South American country.
While rafting might be one of the more popular outdoor pursuits (see more on this below), it is not the only option for outdoor adventure lovers. In fact, we would say that the hiking options are absolutely top notch and should be high on everyone's Pucón travel itinerary.
Below are some of the best hiking areas and trails in and around Pucón:
Located only a short bus ride away from downtown Pucón, El Cani Sanctuary is a great place to go if you want to check out the famous Araucaria trees (also known as Monkey Puzzle trees), get some amazing views of the nearby volcanoes, and visit a few mountain lakes.
This privately owned sanctuary - the first in all of Chile - has one major trail to explore: the Laguna Negra Trail. It measures just over 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) and ends at either a large mountain lake or a stunning mirador. The reserve offers maps with directions and points of interest to all visitors, so you have no chance of getting lost.
COST: it costs 4,000 CLP ($4.60 USD) per person to enter the sanctuary; you will also need to make a reservation beforehand (do it here).
LOCATION: El Cani Sanctuary is located around 30 minutes by bus from Pucón. Find the exact location here.
► Find our full El Cani hiking adventure guide here.
SENDERO LAGOS ANDINOS
If you have your own private car and are looking to check out a much more off the beaten path hiking destination in Pucón, then add the Lagos Andinos hiking trail to your list.
This 9.3 mile out and back trail is actually located in Villarrica National Park - though it is so far from Pucón that you will likely have most of the trail to yourself (especially if you visit on a weekday). The main draw of this route is the opportunity to check out 3 lakes - including the fairly large Huinfiuca Lake. Expect to spend between 4 and 7 hours on the trail.
💬 INSIDER TIP: the sun can be intense out on the trail - especially when you get out of the trees. Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, water and sun-protective clothing.
COST: depending on the day you visit (and the time you arrive) you may need to pay to enter the national park. It costs 7,200 CLP per person for a foreigner and 3,600 CLP per person for a Chilean ($8.30 and $4.10 USD).
LOCATION: the trailhead for Sendero Lagos Andinos is located quite close to the Chile-Argentina border. From Pucón it takes roughly an hour to drive to the trailhead. Find the exact location here.
EL CLARO WATERFALL
Now if you aren't looking for a long drive and instead want a hike that is close to town so that you can do it in half a day (or less), then consider checking out Salto El Claro. Located just on the outskirts of Pucón, this large, single drop waterfall lies in a stunning green gorge with beautiful flowers and easy access.
The hike itself is quite short - maybe 2 kilometers at most, but it does include a decent amount of elevation loss and gain due to the fact that the trail drops from the rim of the waterfall all the way to the base and the flowing river below.
COST: it costs 2,000 CLP ($2.30 USD) per person to enter the waterfall (though the ticket booth is not always manned).
LOCATION: the waterfall is so close to Pucón that if you don't feel like driving to it you can just spend an hour or two and walk to it instead (its roughly 9 kilometers from downtown Pucón). Find the exact location of El Claro Waterfall here.
2 | Hit the River
There are a ton of tour operators and options available if you are looking to explore the rivers in and around Pucón. A few of the top ways to check out the crystal clear mountain rivers - almost all of which are created from melting glaciers nearby - is to head out on a rafting, kayak or canyoneering tour.
If you are looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush, then consider booking a rafting tour along the nearby Turbio River. For the most part, you can plan to spend a couple of hours on a rafting trip. This includes the bus ride to the start/entry point, the actual rafting part and then the drive back to Pucón.
When we went out on the river, it took our group about 15 minutes to get to the entry point on the river, 1 hour rafting on the river and then another 15 minutes to get back to town. So all together we were on the tour for about 1.5 hours.
The river itself is very nice: clear water, great scenery, with a few really run rapids thrown in. And depending on the time of year you are visiting (and your overall comfort level), you can choose to ride Class III or IV rapids on the Turbio (Class V or 5 is the hardest).