Exploring the hot spring tour known as Tour por la Zona
Day 3 | Pucón, Chile
The bus journey was very cosy and pleasant, especially with the 180 degree reclining seat and the premium onboard service. In the early morning, we were given some snacks and a little cup of instant coffee. Just a little before 8am our bus approached the bus terminal in Pucón. We were keen to join a half day tour to visit Pucón hot spring and get to know the place.
It’s pouring down with rain outside when we stepped off of the bus so we ran into a little cafe just opposite of the bus terminal. We had a cup of good coffee and used their WIFI to find out our hostel location.
There are 2 bus terminals in Pucón, the main ones which most bus companies are using. If the journey continues to south, you probably will most likely to use JAC to Valdivia, Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas.
Pucón is a very small town, you can pretty much walk everywhere in the centre. The rain didn’t give up during our walk from the cafe to hostel so when we turned up at the Hostel Graciela door step we were both soaking wet. Hostel Graciela is a family run hostel, the host was very kind, he gave us clean towels and use of the public shower room to get ourselve refreshed since our room was not ready yet.
After freshening up, we took the host’s suggestion to join the most popular half day tour in Pucón – Tour por la zona. There are plenty travel agencies on the main street in town offering different prices, typically between 15,000 to 25,000 pesos. We shopped around and the cheapest one 15,000 pesos didn’t include the Hot Spring. All tours departs 3pm and return approximately 8pm.
A quick thought on Tour por la zona…
I wouldn’t recommend the hot spring that is part of the Tour por la zona, so choose the cheapest tour option that doesn’t include the hot spring. There are many hot springs in Pucón but only Termas Geométricas is probably the best according to other travellers. If you want to do the hot spring as part of the tour, please ensure it’s not Termas de San Luis which we went and I tell you, it wasn’t great. San Luis has 2 pools packed with children, the water smelled and was dirty.
First stop: a local flower shop
Deciding to try the Hot Spring we paid 18,000 pesos per person in the end to Informaciones y servicios Turisticos which was the cheapest option with the hot spring included. The first stop we made was at a flower shop where all flowers were apparently made by wood. It was colourful enough but I wouldn’t see the point of stopping there for tourism reasons. The stop was brief (5 minutes) so it was OK.
Second stop: an old flimsy bridge
Soon after this brief stop we then stopped in front of a flimsy bridge as our second stop, there was a newer concrete bridge just next to this old flimsy wooden bridge, our driver made us to walk over to the other side where he was waiting for us with the car. The walk was fun enough, we enjoyed the landscape on both sides of the river. However, while walking through the bridge, we had to watch out for big holes and rotted wood… Technically you are not allowed to use this flimsy bridge and there was a stop sign on the road so not sure why our tour agency would made the 2nd stop there either.
Third stop: a local fish farm
The car continued towards northeast for as little as 20 minutes, we made our third stop at a place that seemed to me to be a fish farm. We navigated a jungle like walking path then couple of pools filled with big fat fish! As we walked around the place we saw a family come in and started to fish from the pool.
Fourth stop: Ojos del Caburgua (waterfalls in a jungle)
Our fourth stop was the famous tourist landmark – Ojos del Caburgua, a set of waterfalls formed by groundwater from Caburgua lake. Here we had almost 45 minutes to explore as the park was not very big. Since it was raining, it came in very handy to walk through tree in the park to prevent rain soaking through to us. There are about 4 platforms built on different levesl of the hill where you can take picture of the waterfall and get different perspectives. Note some parts were quite muddy, so probably wear good shoes when doing this as it’s quite rough. We saw some women there wearing high heels!
Fifth stop: Caburgua beach
The fifth stop we had was at the Caburgua beach. The place were supposed to be suitable for water sports and to enjoy the sun in the summer. However when we arrived, the rain has got worse so the view of the mountain range and the lake had become really clouded over and we didn’t really see anything spectacular. I am sure if the weather had been nice we would have been able to see a much better landscape.
Sixth and last stop: Termas de San Luis (taking a dip in the hot spring)
Finally we came to the last stop, and at this moment as I am writing it, I had to say my day hasn’t gone well at all due to the miserable weather. Pucón should be a beautiful town but unfortunately we had really bad weather the moment we arrived here which jas upset the entire adventure with today’s tour. Our last stop at Termas de San Luis didn’t help to elevate our opinion on anything of today’s journey. There are only 2 pools and both were packed with children, all you can smell is chlorine. I soaked myself for 5 minutes and decided it was enough! This was more or less just like a local swimming pool. Since we had another 2 people on the same tour and we had to wait for them so we went to the restaurant on-site and discovered the Chilean sandwich — Chacarero was really good!
What is Chacarero?
Chacarero is Chilean sandwich made with thinly sliced steak (mainly beef or pork on a round roll with tomatoes, avocados, onions and lettuces. It can be really delicious depends how good quality the steak is. Most cafés or restaurants only offers this type of sandwich in the afternoon between 2pm – 5pm. If your tour does take you to Termas de San Luis, and you didn’t enjoy the thermals like me, at least you should try out the chacarero in the only on-site restaurant!