Beautiful and destructive, volcanoes have filled us with awe and wonder since the dawn of time. In a new list — compiled by Spain’s ABC newspaper — Chile’s picturesque Villarrica was named as one of the most famous volcanoes in the world.
Located in the Araucanía Region 464 miles (746 km) south of Santiago, Volcán Villarrica — which shares its name with the adjoining lake and town — is protected by a national park, also named Villarrica. One of the most active in Latin America, Volcán Villarrica’s first reported eruption was in 1558 during the Spanish conquest of Chile. Since then, it has erupted 65 times, most recently and memorably in 1964 and 1971.
The majestic peak of Volcán Villarrica, or Rucapillán (House of Spirits) as it is known in the native Mapuche language, is white year-round thanks to regular snowfall and over 40 sq km of glaciers. The largest glacier is the Pichillancahue-Turbio Glacier on the southeast side of the volcano.
Volcán Villarrica is a popular tourist destination throughout the year. It is one of the most climbed stratovolcanoes in the world and boasts a massive 200 meter crater complete with an active permanent lava lake. Tours leave from the city of Pucón with guides leading groups all the way to the volcano’s crater, and navigating the beautiful views created by immense lava flows.
Chile’s winter months are when the slopes of the volcano see its biggest crowds thanks to the ski resort located on its north side. The Villarrica-Pucón Ski Resort boasts, in addition to a range of runs, various backcountry trails that take you right up to the Volcano’s steaming active crater. The landscape, carved by centuries of volcanic activity, offers natural half pipes and exciting trails for skiers and boarders looking for adventure.
Chile is home to 10 percent of the world’s volcanoes, and an impressive 20 percent of the world’s active volcanoes. Other volcanoes on the list included Mauna Loa Volcano, one of five that formed the Hawaiian Islands, and Italy’s Mount Vesuvius, which is best known for engulfing the ancient city of Pompeii.