Video of Volcan Villarrica Eruption by Francesc Balague

Volcan Villarrica is Chile’s most active volcano.

The two most recent destructive eruptions occurred in 1964 and 1971.

Volcan Villarrica towers above the southern tip of Villarrica Lake in Chile’s Lake District.

The city of Villarrica thrives on the western shore.

The tourist town of Pucon and the Ski Area are situated on the eastern shore. 


Volcan Villarrica & Pucon, Chile

Hiking Volcan Villarrica Chile-Volcán & Lake_Villarrica
Hiking Volcan Villarrica Chile-Pucon-&-Volcan Villarrica

We went to Pucon, Chile where we signed up for a guided tour for hiking Volcan Villarrica to the top and viewing the living crater.

The tours, of which there are many to choose from, are mandatory. 

Hiking Volcan Villarrica requires special permission for individuals or groups without a guide service.

The upper part of Villarrica is permanently covered by glaciers.

The Chilean Forestry Service (CONAF) requires that all climbers who wish to attain the summit of Villarica either climb with a guide authorized by CONAF to lead trips up the mountain, or be an accredited member of a mountaineering or climbing club, with documented experience in such activities.

Climbing Without a Guide

If you’re interested in hiking Volcan Villarica without a guide service, you should contact CONAF (visit, or inquire at the park entrance.

The guide service provided us with crampons, hiking boots for those who did not have their own, gaiters, helmets, ice ax, backpack, windbreaker and over pants both of which were not waterproof as we discovered on the glissade back down the mountain. We were told to bring our own warm clothing, sun glasses, sun protection, food and water.

Our guide service limited 6 people to one guide. The total group size however was 18. With many guide services in town, the mountain is a shared adventure in the summer months!

The park entrance fee and the shuttle to and from the ski area was included in the guide price but the ski lift ride to the start was not. They told us to bring cash to pay for the ski lift…or walk up to the start!

Reservations were highly recommended one day in advance!

We rode the lift to the “start.” The climb up to the volcano rim is an all day affair and is moderate to strenuous. Anne, fearful of not being able to keep up because of her Alpha-1 lung condition, took some extra puffs on her inhaler. The guide took notice and inquired if she thought she could go all the way. “Slow and steady will work,” Anne replied. The guide kept her company all the way to the top. She reached the summit only 5 minutes behind the entire group. “It’s the old tale of the tortoise and the hare,” Anne commented to the others. “I just keep moving!”


Hiking Volcan Villarrica Chile
Hiking Volcan Villarrica Chile
Hiking Volcan Villarrica
Hiking Volcan Villarrica Chile
Hiking Volcan Villarrica Chile
Hiking Volcan Villarrica Chile
Hiking Volcan Villarrica Chile

Hiking Volcan Villarrica to the Rim of the Volcano

The glacier has melted around the rim.


The ground is actually warm to the touch.


We walk around the edge smelling the sulpher.


There is no visible volcanic activity on this day.

Hiking Volcan Villarrica ChileHiking Volcan Villarrica ChileHiking Volcan Villarrica Chile
Hiking Volcan Villarrica ChileHiking Volcan Villarrica Chile

Hiking Volcan Villarrica Means

Glissading Back Down

Glissading down Volcan Villarrica Chile

Now the real fun begins.


Walking back down the snow may be an option, but everyone is looking forward to glissading down.


The guides have built a series of tobaggan routes in the snow.


The gear they provided is not waterproof, but it certainly was slick!


We used our ice axes to control speed and direction. Ha! Ha!

Glissading Volcan Villarrica Chile

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