Tag Archives: Adventure

The Land of Ice and Fire – Villarrica, Chile

In Chile, you can hike to the summit of a snow-capped volcano in the morning, and enjoy beers sunbathing by the lake in the afternoon. Despite the Game of Thrones reference in the title, this is no fantasy. Villarrica volcano (2,860m high) is the real-world setting for this adventure, situated near Pucón, referred by guidebooks as the ‘Switzerland of South America’. Switzerland with added volcanoes, maybe.

The hike starts early, in shorts and t-shirts, but you quickly add on the gear as you adapt to the elements. That ice pick comes in handy when you hit the snow and ice at altitude, especially if you get stuck (see photo). It’s a fairly challenging slog up but the view into the active crater is worth it. The escaping gases can be overpowering so our time at the summit was limited. Now the real fun started – sliding down on a flimsy piece of flat plastic down the volcano. This sounds dodgy but it was hands-down some of the most thrilling fun I’ve ever had. Someone suggested making the 6-hour trip back up purely just to slide back down again.

It’s easy to overlook the fact that in Europe, for example, this kind of activity on an active volcano would be off-limits. Two months to the day after we climbed Villarrica, it had violently erupted and caused the evacuation of nearby towns, making the headlines around the world. But when it’s calm, it’s worth exploring one of the best adventure activities out there.

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Zip Lining Towards the Pacific

Zip lining is one of the coolest activities we do in Costa Rica (and there’s plenty of competition for the best activity in Ticoland). It’s hard to beat the sensation of flying through the air, over forests and valleys, towards the Pacific Ocean in the distance. There are plenty of companies in Monteverde but my personal favourite is ‘Extremo’. The clue’s in the name – it’s the fastest one. Plus there’s a 950m-long Superman zip line at the end as a reward.

You might think I’m one of those speed junkies who loves all adventure sports, but in reality I’m a big scaredy-cat for heights. I had to push myself to even try zip lining, because I thought I’d bottle it. But maybe that’s why I ended up enjoying myself so much! It’s important to push yourself and work on your weaknesses. Having said that, with bungee jumping also offered up at ‘Extremo’, there is more chance of hell freezing over than me jumping off that bungee.