A sublime landscape at scarce six kilometers from Pucón was waiting for us. We used mountain bikes and went on an intense hike in order to reach it. It was worth the effort. Astonished, we beheld the Claro waterfall.
The charm of the scenery surrounding Pucón appears before our eyes with every step we make. But as we like to discover sites unknown for the rest of people, we decided to find out about the "treasures" hidden by this mountain village. That is how we met Mario Rodríguez Parker –mountain guide– who promised to surprise us with a "mountain-hike" to a “beautiful waterfall”. As promises are made to keep, we were eager to experiment such adventure with Mario around those latitudes.
The mountain-hike is the combination of mountain-biking or mountain cycling and hiking, also known as trekking. We were provided with an all terrain bicycles, safety helmets, tool kit, spare tube and Mario’s experience –of course- which gave us the necessary technical instructions for the correct use of the mountain bike gears and chain-rings. We left from the city center towards the southeast along the winding bicycle path that leads to the outskirts of Pucón. Then we took a steep rubble road located in the area of Los Calabozos. As a silent witness of the adventure we were experiencing, the Villarrica Volcano accompanied us in every step we made. It was important to drink water every fifteen minutes due to the big physical effort. As we advanced along the road, a thick native forest started to shelter us. Arborescent ferns, mosses, lichens, coihues, and guales –the most common trees in the area– seemed to welcome us among the green foliage. After five kilometers, we had to cross the Los Guindos estate cattle gate. After paying one hundred Chilean pesos to doña Irma –who is in charge of that place– we got into the area where the cascade was awaiting. We left our bicycles and continued walking along a mountain path. As we gained height, the perspective became wider. From a kind of natural viewpoint, we could behold a beautiful sight of Lake Villarrica and the volcano, as well as the beautiful valley where the city of Pucón is located. We continued with our march and, once again we were shrouded by the shadows of the forest. The leafy branches hardly let sunlight through. We started our way down very cautiously, as the ground was quite humid. At a distance, we perceived the sound of the water falling among the trees. We went on and the freshness of the waterfall invaded us from nowhere. A far-away beam of light caught our attention. It was the steep Claro River ravine which ended in a spectacular water fall. Marvelous. We reached the foot of the cascade to watch it, feel it, experience it… “This is the Salto del Claro –our guide explained– the highest cascade in the area, with its ninety meters of height”. The fantastic waterfall hypnotized us with its sound. As we watched it falling from such height, it seemed as if it was descending in slow motion. When we approached it, a refreshing spray moistened our exhausted bodies, and almost automatically revitalized us at once. Mario could not take it any more and quickly dived into the pristine and icy waters where the pool was formed. We did not dare to do likewise. The mist generated by the fall was more than enough. After a comforting rest, we started our way back. It was fantastic to stop and behold that wonderful waterfall hidden amidst the native forest of Pucón. In such simple matters as these, we could understand how marvelous Mother Nature is, and how fortunate we had been to “consume” it in its prime. We started to retrace our steps. The climbing became intense and thus our guide advised that we should walk slowly. After a few minutes of ascending, we reached the spot where we had left our bikes. We said our good-byes to doña Irma, who gently filled our bottles with fresh water and invited us with some home-baked cookies. “These are for you to recover your body strength, as the strength of your souls has already been recovered when watching the fall” –said the kind lady in her sixties. And what was most amazing was that she was right. With a smile upon our faces, we started our way back. As we had to descend, we only had to be carried away by the slope. As from that instant, we had the excursion share of adrenaline. Concentrated and with our hands on the brakes in order to regulate speed, we descended without any problem up to the access to Pucón. We made our triumphant entrance in the city at full speed up to Mario’s store. We gratefully said good bye to our guide, who had fully complied with his promise. He had surprised us.