Soaking in Pucon

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If it’s going to absolutely, completely pour down with torrential rain, and if it’s going to be freezing cold and windy out… and if you were hoping to go hiking in the temperate rainforest but can’t walk to the car without getting soaked, count yourself lucky if you are in Pucon.
 
For within 90 minutes of Pucon (that adventure-loving town in the Chilean Lake District), there are a half-dozen outstanding natural hot springs! And since one would be getting wet doing just about anything, why not get warm and wet at once? Ideally, try to do so deep in a temperate rainforest with a special friend.  
 
The more popular hot springs involve large complexes with cafeterias, covered pools and often lodging. They ain’t my style, though. And I have a feeling they aren’t your either.
 
My favorite hot springs in the Pucon area are the Termas Geometricas, where I soaked under the rain recently. It was drenched 90-minute ride around the other side of the smoking Villarrica Volcano. We were thankful to have our 4×4 truck as we sloshed through the mud.
 
Built by acclaimed Chileno architect German del Sol (who also built the Explora in Torres del Paine), these Japanese-style hot pools are just slightly developed. In fact, they’ve won awards for their low-impact design.  A series of boardwalks link 17 slate-covered pools nestled into a thickly-forested canyon. You can hop from pool to pool, or just close your eyes and drift away into deep relaxation and stay put. Give yourself at least 2.5 hours here.
 
I also love the termas Los Pozones, the cheapest hot springs in the area. I’ve been soaking here since way back in 1996 when I was a river rat in Pucon.
 
Los Pozones are handy because they are closer to Pucon. But these simple pools are dug out of the riverside right next to the Rio Liucura, and are about as natural and rustic as can be. Especially if you are there on your own. They’re particularly lovely on a starry night, and best seen in the off-season, since the November through March high season sends loads of noisy backpackers to Los Pozones with ghetto blasters and beer.
 
Either way, top the day off with a pisco sour and bread with Chile’s famous pebre back in town. Then get nice and dry, and count yourself lucky.
 
How to go: 
Termas Geometricas
3 km (2 miles) south of Villarica National Park
Tel. (56 9) 7477-1708
14,000 pesos
Jan. and Feb., open daily 10-9, Mar. – Dec., daily 11-7
 
Termas Los Pozones
36 km (22 miles) northeast of Pucon
4,000 pesos
Open daily, year round, 24 hours