For all needs and tastesEach year these three towns in the south of Chile attract thousands of visitorsfrom our country and the rest of the world who want to relax and forget thestrenuous rhythm of life in the big cities and submerge themselves in vacationsthat offer them entertainment, adventure, rest and why not say it, romance.

Caburgua lakeSleep until late, enjoy the sun as a lizard does, rise dangerously the levels of adrenaline, enjoy nature to the full, dance until you fall apart and paint the town red until dawn, are some of the activities that any person on holidays, Chilean or foreign, can enjoy in one of the most developed tourist areas in the Country; the zone included between the cities of Villarrica, Pucon and Lican-Ray.

Villarrica volcano as backgroundIt is true that these three cities have several things in common and at the same time count with unique qualities that permit a more variegated tourist offer to fulfill the needs and aspirations of visitors.

A clear example of this is that the tourist supply does not end with the summer and that during the winter, sportsmen and the fanatics of cold weather and snow, of speed and vertigo, appear in the zone, who see their "adrenaline – like" expectations fulfilled on the slopes of the most active of the volcanoes in South America: el the Villarrica Volcano.

Villarrica: the heart of tourism

Embedded on the banks of the Villarrica lake and on the side of the Tolten River’s source, this city shares its name with two great and magnificent natural beauties: the lake and the volcano.

CraftsmanSituated 85 kilometers away from Temuco, the capital of the region, Villarrica has always distinguished itself for being an operational center for tourists due to its conspicuous geographical situation between Pucón and Lican-Ray, and its innumerable services and infrastructure. This fact distinguishes it from the other two resorts where some of the services only function during the summer where as in Villarrica they do it throughout the year.

This city has a very particular character and one quite heterogeneous also. Unquestionably the Mapuche race is latent in its people and culture. The presence of the German community, product of the immigration after the pacification of La Araucanía, the Arab community present in its commerce and the Native, a mixture of these three, has resulted in a very loving and gentle sort of people in their relations with visitors, concerned about the growth of their town and respectful of their roots.

HotelThe city dominated by the volcano and washed by the waters of the lake, due to its characteristics of dormitory city for the tourist and a passing by city, has had to redouble its efforts to attract the tourist and it has done it well through the organization of sports and cultural events of great prestige on an international and national level.

Villarrica may not posses too many natural beauties, nevertheless this small great city, as one of its inhabitants said: "Has benefit by being the open door for tourism in the South of Chile".

Pucon: The Centre of the south of Chile

Out of these three resorts, Pucón is the best known.

Lake sailingInserted in the advance of the cordillera, at the foot of the Villarrica Volcano, this small town trebles its population every summer season. It is located 27 kilometers from Villarrica and within its communal jurisdiction, the most varied and excellent tourist attractions are found: Thermal baths, National parks, lakes and lagoons, powerful rivers, rapids, ski centers, etc.

Its tourist potential was acknowledged by the construction in 1934 of the Gran Hotel Pucón which marked the beginning of an activity that slowly and eventually would situate the town as one of the most sought after resort in the south of Chile.

One could have thought that Pucón was built for the tourist rather than for its permanent inhabitants. The great real state boom of the last years, the construction of large luxury condominiums and important commercial buildings, confirms this notion.

RaftingA fact worth mentioning is the effort the local Pucón community is carrying out in order that their city doesn’t loose the charm and identity which modernity tends to do away with. This disposition is clearly reflected in their standardized criteria concerning construction and publicity; neon signs are absolutely forbidden, only native wood and volcanic stone are allowed for advertising.

Preoccupations with such matters have turned the native Pucón dweller into an "ecological" concerned person, who considers his commune as precious and who now conducts joint cultural activities inclined to educate people and especially children in the belief that by protecting nature they are taking care of their main source of income and work.

Lican-Ray: The "Rock Flower" is reborn every summer

Lican-Ray is situated on the north bank of the Calafquen Lake (27 Kilometers from Villarrica) and it marks the limit between the regions of La Araucanía and Los Lagos. Born a small village in the forties, and whose name means "Rock Flower" in the Mapuche Language, by the nineteen sixties it had all the characteristics of a resort.

In boat on Villarrica lakeWhat makes Lican-Ray so charming? Maybe the fact that although an urban zone, it has never lost its air of rusticity and peace that is so much sought after by tourists and which makes them go back to it so often. So that not even all the international events that take place there every year and all the traits of modernity that the development of tourist activity brings with it, have made Lican-Ray and its people adopt the habits and rhythm of the accelerated modern life slowly invading our southern region.

The town has all the basic necessary services such as an intercomunal bus service, health services, telephones, police station, supermarkets, lodgings and tourist information. Besides, it has beautiful beaches of great natural quality where all the nautical activities one can perform in a lake, are practiced, from swimming to sailing.

It is not only interesting to walk around the town and to get to know its customs or spend an animated evening in one of its pubs or discotheques, but it is also attractive to travel around its outskirts and to get to know the natural wonders of the region. The magnificent lake, the remains of catastrophic volcanic eruptions, rustic and picturesque byroads.

And if the visitor is lucky he may share in a barbecue containing the longest and most desirable piece of stake in the world.

Text: G. Salinas