The cultural diversity of the Region of Araucanía is evident. Here, the university vibe of the young town of Temuco blends with local indigenous traditions.
As you travel towards the mountains, you will experience Araucanía in its purest form: volcanoes, ancient araucaria trees and translucent lakes. Highlights of this unforgettable picture-perfect setting include the Huerquehue, Villarrica and Conguillío National Parks.
Pucón is southern Chile's must-see destination in summer and home to Lake Villarrica. Here, you can start your day with a full breakfast at the hotel featuring local chocolate followed by kayaking on the lake, rafting on rivers like the Trancura, trekking on the area's many paths or climbing a volcano. In the evening, enjoy local dishes in a ruca, the traditional home of the Mapuche people. You can watch as Mapuche families reenact their history and myths. This is a great opportunity to learn about their traditional medicines and silver jewelry and the textiles that they make using natural fibers and pigments.
The area is also home to many hot springs, including the therapeutic spas at Curacautín, Malalcahuello, Villarrica and Curarrehue. During the winter, you can liven up your stay by skiing or snowboarding down the slopes of volcanoes like Llaima, Lonquimay or Villarrica or planning an off-piste adventure like snow trekking or cross-country skiing.
There are daily flights from Santiago to Temuco (1h 20min non-stop). Maquehue Airport is about 7km from the city.
There are daily flights from Santiago to Pucón (1h 25min non-stop) during the summer months. Pucón's airport is located 5km from the town center.
Buses from Temuco to Pucón and Villarrica depart Temuco's bus terminal (Balmaceda and Aldunate).
If you prefer to travel by car, take Route 5 from Santiago to Temuco (676 km). Villarica is another 81 km southeast of Temuco and Pucón is 27 km to the east. The road is in excellent condition, so it will take between 9 and 10 hours to get there from Santiago under normal circumstances.
There is daily bus service from Santiago to Temuco (9 hours). Most buses travel overnight.
• Alameda Terminal: Av. Bernardo O'Higgins 3570, Universidad de Santiago Metro Station. Phone: (56-2) 7762424
• Santiago Terminal (formerly Terminal Sur): Alameda and Nicasio Retamales, 150m east of the Alameda Terminal. Phone: (56-2) 3761750
• San Borja Terminal (formerly Terminal Norte): San Borja and Alameda, close to the Estación Central Train Station. Phone: (2) 7760645
This is a great destination year-round. You can enjoy the beaches and the lakes during the summer and marvel at spectacular red and orange landscapes mixed with the evergreen araucaria trees in the fall. If you are interested in checking out the snow and ski resorts, plan to visit during the winter months, though snow can still be found off-piste during the spring, when colorful flowers bloom and the climate evens out.
Note that while main roads to Pucón, Curacautín and Lonquimay are paved, others are gravel. You'll have to use tire chains to get to the ski resorts during the winter.
Summers are hot, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C, so don't forget your bathing suit and sunscreen. Winter temperatures are very low, so you'll need warm and waterproof clothing as well as hats and gloves.
There are many handicrafts to be purchased in this area, including wood carvings and Mapuche textiles. Gourmet products like local marmalades, merkén (a ground, smoked chili pepper) and Chilean pine nuts also make great souvenirs.