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Insider Tip! Parasitic Crater Trail trek in Pucón

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Many people arrive to Pucón and head straight out to Huerquehue National Parkto get in their fix of hiking. However,Sol y Nievehas an insider tip which we are prepared to share with our loyal readers!

Just outside of Pucón at the base of Villarrica volcano there is a section of the national park that is home to some pretty fantastic craters. You can get up close to them on a short hike which will also allow you some great views over the town of Pucón, Villarrica lake, surrounding valleys and of course of the neighbouring volcanoes.

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This little known excursion is called the Parasitic Crater Trail, or Los Cráteres Parásitos, in Spanish. Located within the temperate Andean forest at the foot of Villarrica volcano this family friendly trek allows you can get close to these mini volcanic craters. Both the mini craters and the lava field they lie within were created during eruptions which took place many decades ago.

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Just 30 minutes outside of Pucón the trek begins on a volcanic lahar which was produced by the 1971 eruption. This section is now almost completely covered over by vegetation interspersed by small lenga forests. After a short while you will cross a dried river bed before entering into a dense coigue forest where the path begins to ascend. As you get deeper into the forest you will cross various vegetation-filled crevasses where you can enjoy local flora and fauna such as the bright red flowers of the Chilean firebush and small, brilliantly colored lizards.

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5 Crateres parasitos parasitic caves Pucon Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure Chile

As you continue, the forest of coigue gives way to lenga and a view of the Villarrica volcano and the surrounding valleys lies before you. In the distance on a clear day you will be able to see Caburgua and Huilipilún lakes, Llaima volcano and even the snowy caps (los nevados) of Sollipulli.

As the hike continues you will begin to observe the first vestiges of lava from the most recent eruptions. Due to the uneven terrain the path becomes slightly more difficult to follow but our guide will expertly show you through. After one and a half hours the destination is revealed: a series of parasitic craters ranging from 5 to 10 meters in diameter from which lava once flowed in both directions. Some craters are slightly eroded, while others are much more recognizable.

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The whole trek takes around 4 hours including plenty of time for stops for snacks, photos and exploration. The walk begins at 1175 masl and ascends a total of 280m to the maximum altitude of 1430 masl. It is perfect for people who have little trekking experience, but also for those who have limited time in Pucón and want to combine two half day excursions.

You can wear normal trainers during the summer months, but during the autumn months we recommend hiking boots and walking poles. As winter advances, there is also the option to explore the same area with snow shoes (raquetas de nieve).

Contact Sol y Nievefor more information on this and alternative treks. Pucón is not just about that famous, and really rather challenging, one day ascent to the crater of Villarrica volcano, so help us spread the word. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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Guest Wednesday, 21 November 2018