Rafting Lake District

As a travel consultant for Journey Latin America I’ve had the fortune to travel very widely throughout Latin America, but Pucón, in the Chilean lake district, has to be my number one destination. I’ve always loved adventure sports, and for adrenaline junkies like me Pucón is the perfect playground. Here are my five favourite activities to enjoy amongst its stunning Andean landscapes:

1. Climbing the Villarica Volcano

The scenic volcano of Villarrica looks down over Pucón and makes an arresting back-drop to the other activities in this list. But climbing it is also an adventure in itself, and well worth the effort and the early start. Watching dawn break over the mountainous landscape, you can head up the first 1,000m by cable car if it’s not too windy, allowing plenty of time to scale the final 2,000m and in particular the snow-capped peak. You’ll be provided with all the equipment, including ice picks – on the way down you’ll need them to help you slide down feet-first through the ice and snow. It’s not a particularly technical climb, but I recommend it even for experienced climbers. Remember though that this activity is limited to Chile’s summer months only.

2. Hydrospeeding

Hypdrospeeding is similar to white-water rafting, but without the raft! Instead you’ll get a foam bodyboard and a padded wetsuit to protect you from any rocks, as well as a helmet and flippers, and of course you won’t be attempting this in the upper Trancura where the strongest rapids can be found. Swimming instead down a 9km stretch of the lower Trancura, you are guided straight down the middle of the river by the current: an absolutely exhilarating ride. The groups typically take a maximum of 6-8 people plus a guide to keep an eye on your safety – though even with all the best safety measures, this is one activity that is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

3. Quad Bking Across Lava Trails

Villarrica is an active volcano, and on some nights you can see the red embers and bursts of lava spouting from it in the distance. Previous eruptions have left a network of solidified lava trails that wind through the surrounding area and make a great racetrack for quad bikes – go with a guide and take the various paths through forest scenery. Stopping to take a dip in a pool formed by melted glacial water makes a great break midway through the trip.

If any of these activities have tickled your fancy, feel free to get in touch with me for more tailor-made travel options or to start planning your holiday. Email Caroline Maber.

4. Rappelling Down a Waterfall

Another excellent excursion to get the adrenaline pumping is the waterfall rappel. Kitted up with helmets and wetsuits, the group is taken to the top of a 30m or even 150m (pictured) waterfall before abseiling down, one by one, into a pool with water splashing down onto them the whole time – look up and you’ll get a face-full of it. It’s pretty cold so this activity is best kept to the summer months, November to the end of March.

5. White Water Rafting


White water rafting is one of the Chilean lake district’s big draws – the icy splash of that first wave is my ideal wake-up call. From Pucón it’s a short journey to the Trancura river, where you’ll find rapids of all classes. For beginners (or keen kayakers), the class 2-3 rapids of the lower Trancura are the best option, whereas experienced rafters should try the upper Trancura with its more extreme class 4-5 rapids. There’s even a class 6, but you’ll have to walk around that one! In terms of safety, this is as well-regulated as rafting comes, and there’s always a safety kayak or raft following behind you for peace of mind.

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  • Hannah
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.

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    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

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    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

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    Heloise started her Latin American journey as an exchange student in Santiago, Chile. With extended summer holidays this was the perfect opportunity to backpack through Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.

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    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.

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