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Featured Regions

Pucón — A Land of Color

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Pucon Chile
A town full of history and a must-visit destination when exploring the region.
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Villarrica Traverse
Volcanic slopes cloaked in primordial jungle make for epic trekking.
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Puesco Region
Mountain biking this area was a highlight of the trip.
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Volcan Villarrica
A towering volcano that erupted during our visit, spewing orange into the sky.
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Curarrehue
A cultural hub for the Mapuche people, the Curarrehue marketplace was beyond vibrant.
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Huepil Malal
On horseback, travelers gain perspective on the beauty and history of the Lake District.
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Liucura River
Fly fishing and floating converge on one of Chile's most gorgeous rivers.
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The Region

Pucón is a land of color. Blue rivers trace fractured lava flows, forming pools and lakes in ever-widening clefts. Trout and salmon project silvers, reds and speckled yellows into crystalline waters. Fireworks erupt from Volcan Villarrica, spitting orange rockets kilometers into the night sky. In Pucón proper, naturally dyed textiles squeeze color from local plants as cow-horn trumpets and hand drums pulse in the marketplace. All this, even before putting paddle to water, boot to trail or bike tire to wooded path. This region, a longtime center of four-season adventure, creates a setting where even the most civilized outing takes on a sense of expeditionary vigor.

Interesting Facts
  • Volcanic activity is commonplace here: Volcan Villarrica erupted just a month before our trip.
  • Pucón is a center of Mapuche culture, the largest indigenous group in Chile.
  • Multiple rivers draw paddlers and anglers to this whitewater-rich region.

#RealTimeChile

The Crew

Peter Reese
Peter Reese

Active Junky's Director of Content, traveling the globe in search of stories with soul.

 Michael Stolp-Smith
Michael Stolp-Smith

A quiet, aspiring photographer with a perpetually snapping shutter.

Rhett Cutrell
Rhett Cutrell

Thanks to his eye for angles, Rhett's constantly traveling the world on assignment.

Jordan Labelle
Jordan Labelle

An inquisitive writer and experienced traveller out to make the most of every experience.

Audra Burns
Audra Burns

A personal trainer that’s always eager to see what's over the next ridge.

The Collector

Hotel Vira Vira

Our luxurious basecamp for adventures in the Lake District.

Few all-inclusive resorts can compare to the culinary, hospitality and guiding expertise of this property. Conceived over three decades and executed to the highest international standards, Vira Vira warrants consideration if Pucón scores high on your list of dream destinations. On-premise dairy and cheese making, organic gardens and exemplary chef experimentation yield reasons to stick around the property. But with vast exploration available in the hands of able guides, Chile's Lake District beckons to relaxed and revved-up guests alike.

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The gear that got it done

TNF Fuseform Dot Matrix Jacket

Comfortable enough for travel; lightweight and surprisingly durable.
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Revo Huddie

Never has Chile seen a fresher pair of shades.
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Liucura River

Fly fishing and floating converge on one of Chile's most gorgeous rivers.

This spring fed river prompted reverent reflection from Active Junky's most experienced anglers. With gravel bars flowing down to over 30ft, the biggest caution is against wading beyond your limits. Instead, put local guides to the test to find trout and salmon that barely fit within the camera's field of view.

Fed in part by rivers originating in Huerquehue National Park, the Liucura sheds the visitor traffic present in the nearby Transcura River in favor of poetic bends, glittering riffles and quiet embankments. Anchored or floating, even non-anglers find respite with every paddle stroke.

The gear that got it done

Smith Dockside

Blue lenses were perfect for picking out fish from the shadows.
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Keen Uneek

Open-toed comfort in the heat and on the water, with rope reinforcements for a more protective build.
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Pucón, Chile

A town full of history and a must-visit destination when exploring the region.

On the shores of Lago Villarrica, Pucon pushes well past 20,000 inhabitants to guarantee plenty of lodging, dining, shopping and guiding options; start with Travel Aid to evaluate hiking options before you leave home. Nearly 500 miles south of Santiago, there’s no sense of remoteness attached to the health-centered restaurants, ice cream parlors and steak houses in the center city.

Trawen, Lounge Brasil and El Camino make the cut as plenty of “gateau” dessert spots line the main street. While invaded by bathers during peak summer months, the city’s beach creates extraordinary vistas while holding a cold cerveza or high-octane espresso. Three national parks fill the horizon while Villarrica (the town) adds more options.

The gear that got it done

Patagonia Blackhole Daypack 25L

Tromping around town, this carry-on came in handy.
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Sierra Designs Elite Cagoule

When weather struck, Sierra Designs kept travelers dry.
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Villarrica Traverse

Volcanic slopes cloaked in primordial jungle make for epic trekking.

Seeing snow-capped volcanoes nearly 100 miles away is deceiving. Here, the distances – and variations in ecosystems – are mind-bending. With Volcan Villarrica to our backs, the team pushed east to less-traveled vistas; solid map and compass skills were required to make our way toward Laguna Azula.

Few sights compare to the night sky in the southern hemisphere. Interrupted only by the fast-moving silhouette of a giant jackrabbit, the team forgot the miles behind to gaze in silent awe. Soothed to sleep by a nearby brook, the next day's journey through monkey puzzle trees became a dream we'd live tomorrow.

The gear that got it done

Osprey Atmos AG EX 65

Enough volume for a multi-day trip with an agile fit that was appreciated on steep scrambles.
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Keen Liberty Ridge WP Hiking Boot

Testers found freedom on ridgelines in these comfortable Keens.
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Puesco Region

Mountain biking this area was a highlight of the trip.

Guides from Hotel Vira Vira know the Lake District’s varied terrain for miles in every direction. Their pick for a day outing in the shadows of the Cordillera Las Carpas combined well-packed flowing trails with river crossings and rocky redoubts. Flying across rolling terrain and locking down suspensions to climb, Active Junky’s team unwrapped a mound of mountain-bike accessed gifts.

Expansive views across the border to Argentina combined with numerous bird sightings in old growth forests. Remote lakes and heart-pumping traverses gave riders plenty of chances to crank hard. From aspiring to accomplished bikers, the surrounding trails merit exploration beyond a single day.

The gear that got it done

Olympia EX550 Headlamp

Greeting dusk with the EX550 is greeting dusk with confidence.
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Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite Jacket

Ultralight and waterproof, this Mountain Hardwear jacket was a tester favorite throughout our multi-sport itinerary.
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Volcan Villarrica

A towering volcano that erupted during our visit, spewing orange into the sky.

This is no Sound of Music scenario. An active volcano, our team toasted the still-spewing Villarrica from the safety of Hotel Vira Vira with signature pisco sours. Normally a magnet for hikers and skiers, Villarrica is an integral part of the Lake District’s ancient landscape.

Toothy boots in summer give way to crampons and ice axes in winter. With plenty of chances to get off-course, this challenge warrants hiring a dependable local guide. Panoramic views are the reward, knowing Chilean hospitality and generous meals rest not far away from the 9,341ft summit; allow some time to acclimate once stepping off the plane in Temuco or Pucon.

The gear that got it done

Biolite Camp Stove

On treks in the shadows of the volcano, the Camp Stove's charging mechanism earned top marks.
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Leatherman Skeletool CX

No international traveler should venture out sans a Leatherman in pocket or pack.
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Curarrehue

A cultural hub for the Mapuche people, the Curarrehue marketplace was beyond vibrant.

Connecting with the storied Mapuche culture More than a million Chileans identify as Mapuche, an indigenous group that extends beyond the country’s borders into Argentina. Chile’s 1993 Indigenous Peoples Act made it easier for members to remain connected to historic lands; a significant development as “Che” means people and “Mapu” means “of the land.”

Amazing textiles weave the past and present together. Metal work celebrates artisanal skills. Musical traditions feature drumming and trumpeting on handmade instruments. Cuisine stirs in gathered herbs and cultivated vegetables for robust dishes. While street fairs promote Mapuche crafts, connections with local tourism authorities pave the way to more intimate glimpses of the people themselves.

The gear that got it done

Patagonia Synchilla Vest

Patagonia's fleecy comfort in an unassuming style.
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Mountain Hardwear Raffia Crusher II

Blocking out the Chilean sun—with a hint of fashion thrown into the mix.
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Huepil Malal

On horseback, travelers gain perspective on the beauty and history of the Lake District.

Horseback riding proves an ideal match for the Lake District. At one equestrian center, Active Junky connected with a competent operator sporting an Olympic and national team resume forged in Europe. Consummate Chilean horseman Rodolfo Coombs and talented former reining competitor Penelope Coombs encourage visitors to ride with all of their senses in the bird and nature rich environment they share.

Lessons quickly boost proficiency for aspiring riders while travelers intent on exploration push across wide-ranging trails. In the training center and stable immersed in the Cani mountain range, safety and adventure ride together; every animal is treated with gratitude and care to make this enterprise humane and sustainable.

The gear that got it done

Super.Natural Essential Full Zip Hoodie

Whether riding a horse, a mountain bike or a 4x4, the Essential is an essential indeed.
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L.L. Bean Cool Weave Shirt

Stylish enough for fancier evenings and suited for trekking, this shirt is perfect for minimalist travelers.
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Gear Partners

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The Gear that Got it Done