Jessica is currently Teaching English in Chile, and was kind enough to send us some photos and words about her recent trip to summit of Volcán Villarrica in Pucón. Just another example of the sorts of adventures people find themselves embarking on while teaching English abroad!
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By Jessica Fryman
ESL teacher in Santiago, Chile
I booked a one-ticket to Santiago, Chile, and moved half way across the world to Teach English As A Foreign Language. I did it for the life experience and the adventure more than anything, so when I heard climbing an active volcano was the “thing to do” in southern Chile, I added it to my wish list of places to visit. I crossed it off my list in February. The hike was incredibly hard, but also totally worth it.
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Here are my Top 3 reasons I think you should climb an active volcano, too:
1. Complete Two Week’s Worth of Exercise in Just 4 Hours
Climbing a volcano, a steep snowy hillside, is no joke. In South America, they deem the trek fit for beginners, but I’m convinced that’d never be the case in the States.
For Volcán Villarrica in Pucón, Chile, the ascent requires full snow gear, including an ice pick and boots with crampons. It takes 3 to 4 hours to reach the summit.
It’s definitely a work out, one that’s at least two weeks worth of exercise. And that’s a good thing, considering it might take you that long to recover!
2. Witness a Spectacular View
I’ve hiked to the top of the rapid Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica, swam with dozens of tortoises on the beaches of Hawaii and toured the Mayan pyramids of Chichén Itzá in Mexico. I’ve jumped off boulders into the (very cold) ever-blue waters of Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and watched the sun rise over the top of the giant Andes mountains. I know beauty.
Even still, standing on the top of an active volcano — the view was like nothing I had ever seen before. Staring down into the crater, lava spit up in loud bursts of crackling pops with clouds of smoky sulfuric gas. The sight in a 360 turn on Volcán Villarrica’s peak: lush green hills that rolled on for miles, mountain ranges, lakes and other volcanoes. It seemed like I could see the whole world, looking down from the tippy-top. It was incredible.
3. Experience a Once-in-a-Lifetime Accomplishment
For me, the best part of hiking to the summit is easy to define. While the view was unbelievable, the sense of accomplishment that rushed over me when I reached the top was what made everything worth it.
The climb tested my strength, both physically and mentally. There were plenty of times I thought I would never survive hiking to the peak, but I didn’t give up. The challenge made the success all the sweeter.
I think travel and adventure is just as much about discovering yourself as it is about learning of other people and cultures. Ascending an active volcano was not only a lesson in trekking through the great outdoors, but also through life. The hike tested my limits, but reminded that you can’t taste the full experience if you give up halfway. Whether its climbing to the top of an active volcano or embarking on some other crazy feat — take risks to experience the thrill of a new adventure, and you’ll be sure to learn something new along the way.