The Lake District: Places to Explore

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Pucón

The resort town of Pucón, on the southern shore of Lago Villarrica, attracts all manner of Chileans young and old. By day, there are loads of outdoor activities in the area. The beach on Lago Villarrica feels like one of Chile's popular coastal beach havens near Viña del Mar. By night, the young people flock to the major nightspots and party 'til dawn. The older crowd has a large array of fine restaurants and trendy shops to visit. Pucón has many fans, though some lament the town's meteoric rise to fame. Still, this is the place to have fun all 24 hours of the day in southern Chile. Be warned, however, that accommodations are hard to come by in February, which is easily the busiest month. And outside of summer, December to March, most stores, restaurants, and pubs here close down.

With Volcán Villarrica looming south of town, a color-coded alert system on the Municipalidad (city hall) on Avenida Bernardo O'Higgins signals volcanic activity, and signs around town explain the colors' meanings: green—that's where the light almost always remains—signifies "normal activity," indicating steam being let off from the summit with sulfuric odors and constant, low-level rumblings; yellow and red indicate more dangerous levels of activity. Remember: the volcano sits 15 km (9 mi) away, and you'll be scarcely aware of any activity. Indeed, ascending the volcano is the area's most popular excursion.

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