Pumalin Explorer offers a rare opportunity to its guests, a trek to the crater of the active Chaiten Volcano which last erupted in May of 2008. The route up to the crater is a medium difficulty hike that will take approximately 3 hours to complete. Descending from the volcano is a very slow process, due to the loose ash and scree from the last eruption, in which we need to exercise due caution to prevent ankle sprains and falls. This all-day hike begins at Pumalin Explorer at 9:00 am and returns late in the afternoon for a replenishing therma bath at our lodge. If you do not have prior hiking or trekking experience you will be tired at the end of the day but will have an experience you will remember forever.
Hiking the Chaitén Volcano
The hike to the Chaitén volcano crater is appropriate for all ages and skill-levels, including children. The altitude of the volcano is only a few thousand feet above sea level and the vast majority of our guests (99%) have no problem making the summit. The challenges encountered on this hike will involve traversing around and possibly climbing over the deadfall from the last eruption and descending the talus slopes of fresh ash without falling. Plan on a full day including transport time between Pumalin Explorer and the trailhead.
Because of the depressurization of the magma chamber, the chances of a near-future explosive eruption of the volcano are almost zero. Additionally SernaGeomin (the equivalent of the United States Geological Survey in Chile) is continually monitoring the volcano for increased activity and regularly updates the community of any danger. Currently the volcano is emitting steam from the summit area and is perfectly safe to climb with little eruption hazard.
The route to the volcano summit traverses an area that highlights the life and death of the undergrowth of the Valdivian temperate rainforest. On our hike we will observe signs of both death and rebirth of a forest ecosystem. The native Tineo trees are recovering and soon a new forest will resurge from the same fallen trunks we will be climbing around.
On this excursion you will observe the effects of the lahars from the Rio Blanco in the town of Chaiten. While the northern portion of the town is being rebuilt the southern portion, now cut off by the new channel of the Rio Blanco, is in much the same state as when it was abandoned in 2008. At the summit you will see the newly formed lava dome that formed inside the old crater. This is a Patagonia Adventure you don’t want to miss!