CHILE, PUCON AREA
Our fifth visit to Chile started off with an argument at the border. The police would not allow us to enter Chile with a righthand drive vehicle WHAT!!!! 30 minutes of discussions and the fact we showed our previous entry stamps and TIP confirming we have been entering Chile over the last 5 weeks, made him think. With the help of the friendly immigration and Aduana officers 30 minutes later we were allowed to proceed. PFFFFFFFFF, however we are still not clear if you are allowed or are not allowed to drive a right hand drive in Chile. The police officer was adamant we were not. We were now looking forward to the warm waters of a hot pool near Pucon. But we picked the wrong one. (Los Pozones) Yes it was the cheapest. It started with the fact that our truck was not able to drive down to the carpark, hence a 1.5km walk downhill to the carpark. Followed by another 450 steps (STEEP) to the pools. The location was nice but the idea of soaking in hot pools is to relax, not to go bush walking. Next were the 450 steps back up again followed by the walk up the road for 1.5km. Then another disappointment: we were not allowed to stay in the carpark overnight but told to drive 2km to the camping. Why pay $25.00 a night for a gravel spot while bush camping is free? So in all not a good day. We were lucky we did find another real nice bush camp near San Pedro just before Pucon. The area around Pucon is stunning and the views of the snow-capped mountains and the Vulcano Villarrica are fantastic. But due to all this it has become very touristy and expensive.
The Villarrica Volcano (2847 Meters ) is the main attraction and the most infamous as the most active volcano in South America. You are able to drive right up to the base of the volcano and while doing this you cross old lava flows. In the area are many vulcanoes. Lanín (3.776 mts), Quinquilil (2.000 mts), Quetrupillán (2.360 mts), Villarrica (2.850 mts) and other high peaks like Las Peinetas, Purue, Los Nevados, El Cerdudo, and Milemile. We were very lucky with the weather and enjoyed another day on the lake in Villarrica before heading to Reserva Nacional Malalcahuello-Nalcas and Parc Nacional Conguillio. As the short cut was closed we finished up for the first time on the Pan Americana.
The drive through Huerguehue National Park, Conguillio National Park and Malalcahuello National Reserve along crystal clear lakes, deep gorges and vulcanoes as a backdrop was perfect. Lots of vulcanic material, much of it ancient. The drive up to the volcano Longquimay and our overnight stay witnessing the sunset and sunrise was amazing.