Villarrica National Park is located in the Andes, in the La Araucanía and Los Ríos regions of Chile. The park protects Valdivian temperate rain forest habitat. A popular hiking destination, highlights are the volcanoes: Villarrica, Quetrupillán and Lanín.
Villarrica National Park
Villarrica National Park is located in the Andes Mountain Range, within the La Araucanía and Los Ríos regions of Chile, near Pucón. Situated on a lateral arm of the range, the park is characterized by its volcanoes, forests, caves, rivers and lagoons.
Villarica National Park is part of the Bosques Templados Lluviosos de los Andes Australes Biosphere Reserve. The park's approximately 60,000 ha (148,000 acres) are officially divided into three sections:
The park's highlights are the three volcanoes: Villarrica, Quetrupillán and Lanín. Other mountains in the park include Quinquilil volcano (2,050 m (6,726 ft)), also known as Colmillo del Diablo, and Cerro Las Peinetas, which lies on the border between Argentina and Chile.
Elevations within the park range from a low of 600 m (1,969 ft), to a high of 3,776 m (12,388 ft) at Lanín Volcano.
Villarica National Park protects Valdivian temperate rain forest habitat. Roble (Nothofagus obliqua) and Raulí (Nothofagus alpina) trees are found at lower elevations. Coihues occur in the wettest areas. At higher elevations, forests are dominated by the Araucarias (Araucaria araucana).
At lower elevations, up to about 1,500 m (4,900 ft), mixed Araucaria and Nothofagus woodlands cover the slopes. The Araucaria reaches its southernmost point at Volcán Quetrupillán. The mañío (podocarpus), an ornamental in the Northern Hemisphere, can also be found. Native bunch grasses have colonized some volcanic areas.
These forest zones are home to a variety of fauna, with species such as:
- monitos del monte (a rare, tiny opossum)
- chillas (South American grey fox)
- culpeos (Andean red fox)
- pudúes (South American deer, the world's smallest)
- Lesser grison (species of mustelid or weasel)
- coypu (semiaquatic rodent)
- peuco (Harris's hawk)
- Molina's long-nosed skunks
- mountain monkeys (one of the three species of marsupials which exist in Chile.)
Summertime temperatures range from a minimum of about 9°C (48°F) to a maximum of around 23°C (73°F), while wintertime lows average 4°C (39°F).
Most precipitation falls between March and August, when Pacific storms can drop up to two meters of snow. Rain can fall at any time. The park receives about 2,500-3,500 mm (100-140 in) of rainfall per year.
Hiking trails withing the park include:
- Los Cráteres viewpoint: 4 km, 2.5 hrs round trip
- The Chilean Path Challupen – Chinay stretch: 23 km, 12 hrs
- Turbio River: 4 km, 4 hrs. round trip
- Villarrica crater: 5 km, 6 hrs
- The Chilean Path, Los Venados stretch: 15 km, 10 hrs
- Los Nevados: 8 km, 5 hrs
- Pichillancahue: 3.3 km, 2.5 hrs. round trip
- El Mocho stream: 4 km, 2 hrs round trip
- Colonia Benavides: 4 km, 2.5 hrs round trip
- The Chilean Path, Las Avutardas stretch: 17 km, 12 hrs
- Momolluco: 12.5 km, 6 hrs
- Quinquilil volcano: 6 km, 2.5 hrs
- Rinconada de Huillico: 10 km, 6 hrs
- Andean Lakes: 12 km, 6 hrs
- Fauna Trail: 150 m, 30 min
- El Aguilucho: 4 km, 8 hrs
- Villarrica journey: 6 km, 4 hrs