We took a tour of the stunning lake district, an extremely picturesque region of natural beauty (as are most places in South America). I'm ashamed to say we had almost begun to take this breathtaking background for granted after a few days - such was the abundance of postcard perfect settings available. I suppose you only truly appreciate these things on reflection.
One of the highlights of the lake district was the town of Pucon. Pucon is centred around a huge shimmering lake and overshadowed by the smoking cone of 2847m Volcan Villarrica.
So what to do in Pucon?? Climb the active glacier volcano? Yes please!
It took us hours to get up that hill. Icepick in hand we had to traverse the whole way up the steep assent. The going was slow but the weather was perfect and the views were epic. Lakes, forests and mountain ranges in all directions. Throw in another very active volcano (spewing a constant stream of ash and dust for the past 4 months) and I think that justifies the adjective 'epic'.
What goes up, must come down...fast! After we had all had some time to breath in the slightly toxic fumes, taken in the view and a memory card full of photos it was time to sleigh down. All it took was some waterproofs and a thin plastic panel attached to your belt to be used as a seat to slide down on.
We got the usual safety spiel about not going to fast, how to control the speed you slid and how to stop. All this quickly went out the window once the 'race' commenced - it quickly became apparent that the most common means of stopping was to either a) crash into the slow poke in front of you, or, b) wipeout - this was generally good fun and the soft snow was pretty forgiving.
The hours that it took to ascend took minutes on the descent. What was a slow, steady, one step at a time climb on the way up became hold on tight roller-coaster ride on the way down.
All in all, a great day out.
Have you climbed and/or sleighed down an active glacier volcano?? Definitely worth writing home about.