I decided to use Patagonia Experience for the climb up Villarica after reading all their positive reviews on Tripadvisor. They did not disappoint. I was impressed with their professionalism right from when I first stopped by their office to enquire about making the climb. They kit you out with everything you need from helmets right down to two different types of gloves and the little sit down by the fire with a pisco sour at the end of the day is a nice touch.
The first day we tried to go up we got to the base only to find the weather was too bad too make the climb. The next day the weather was perfect. Climbing Villarica is no joke. At times it is quite dangerous. You have to be physically fit and you have to have knowledgeable,responsible guides. Joaquin and 'Pepo' were superb. They pushed us to go a little faster when it was needed and slowed things down when we were struggling and needed to take a little more precaution. I got cramp in my legs about forty minutes from the summit and Pepo was extremely patient with me while he helped me stretch it out as the rest of the group continued on to the summit. We followed at a slower pace.
The views from the top of the volcano are amazing but the fun really starts on the way down. We were equipped with simple plastic 'toboggans' that are used to slide down the mountain and Joaquin and Pepo showed us the best routes to take.
Definitely an experience I would recommend to anyone in a decent physical condition. Definitely apply lots of sunscreen and take a good amount of drinking water as it does get really hot on certain sections of the climb. I would also recommend using the ski lift at the base as it will cut about an hour off the total climbing time, saving vital energy in the process.
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