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How to Find Salto el Claro in Pucón

How to Find Salto el Claro in Pucón

I’m officially back and writing from Santiago, Chile! [Yes, yes I know. I owe you all an explanation, but that’s another story for another day.]

I haven’t had a chance to write down all of my ideas/thoughts/plans yet, so instead I’m going to continue checking off posts from my long list of ideas covering my January travels in Southern Chile. I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately for information about what to do in the South of Chile, and I’d like to write out these posts while the information is still somewhat fresh in my mind!

Today’s will be a quick one I promise.

Not too long ago I wrote about my hike up Volcano Villarrica, which is one of Pucón’s priciest, yet completely splurge-worthy activities. Like Villarrica, most activities in and around Pucón, are not very budget friendly. So, today with a backpacker budget in mind, I’ll be contrasting my past Pucón post with an awesome, and almost completely free, activity- hiking to Salto el Claro, Pucón’s hidden waterfall.

We’d been dropping quite our fair share of dough on the adventure activities around Pucón [all were more than worth it], so during our stay at Chili Kiwi Hostel we asked reception for a cheaper activity on one of the days that we had nothing planned.

Lucky for us, they had just the thing and handed us a hand drawn “treasure map” on how to find Pucón’s hidden waterfall. Just like my hike to the hidden glacier right outside of Santiago, finding Salto el Claro is half the fun and all part of the adventure. This waterfall is truly a local hidden treasure and definitely off-the-beaten-path. Other than two other people from our hostel, we didn’t run into anyone else on our hike.
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With the help of this map, we were eventually able to find the waterfall, but not without a bit of confusion and a few wrong turns along the way. The following information is meant to clear some things up, so hopefully your treasure hunt goes a bit more smoothly.

How to Find Salto el Claro in Chile

The overall journey to the waterfall is about 6KM outside of the town of Pucón. You can arrive to the waterfall by walking, biking, or a combination of taking a taxi or collectivo, or local shared car service, and walking. We asked the staff at Chili Kiwi which would be best, and they suggested either walking or taking a colectivo as far as we could, and then continuing on by foot.

Biking was also an option, but they warned that the “35 minute uphill” section of the trail would be pretty strenuous by bike. We also wouldn’t be able to finish the hike by bike, so we’d have to find a safe place to lock them up. As the weather was looking a bit iffy the day we decided to go, we decided on the colectivo-walk option to cut out over an hour of walking in the rain.

Here’s a map of where to catch a colectivo in town, and then where to get out and continue on by foot:

Next is where the treasure map comes in. I’m going to do my best to decipher the map, in the simplest terms possible, and even took some pictures at the specific spots where we got confused, so as to hopefully clear things up!
Salto del Claro Treasure Map

1- Fundo el Sol

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On the treasure map, you’ll see a little drawing of a “Fundo el Sol” sign. This part of the map was actually pretty dead on and you’ll want to stay to the right at the fork (away from the private condominiums) and continue uphill.

2- The Mirador or Look Out Spot

DSC01002Not too long after you pass the “Fundo el Sol” sign, you’ll some across the “Mirador,” or look out. Now this isn’t your typical “mirador,” but rather just a little road that veers off to the left with a few houses. This tripped us up a bit, since look outs are usually up high looking down over something. But, hey, there were still some pretty nice views.

We somehow missed this completely on the way up and continued on right past it, even though it really does look exactly like the map suggests. I also wouldn’t go too far down this road, as people do live here and there may be a little “private” sign on the fence…
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3- The “Little House”

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A ways after the “mirador,” we were told to keep an eye out for a “little house/shack” on the right of the road. We saw no such “house,” but did find this little rotting “what-looked to be an old bus stop,” which does look a lot like the one on the map, so we’re going to go with that.

**IMPORTANT ROUTE UPDATE**

One of my readers recently emailed me to let me know that the little house mentioned above no longer exists. Instead, you’ll find a dumpster and a sign (sort of) pointing you in the right direction. If you see this, you’ll want to take the  trail up to the left. *Note- I haven’t seen this for myself and am going off of the word of someone who more recently conquered the trail.

4- The Crossroads at the Tree

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I don’t know why this really screwed us up, but it did. Maybe it’s all of the crisscrossing paths, or maybe we just weren’t paying attention. Of course, now it seems really obvious. Stay straight, to the left of the tree, and go into the woods, which are apparently those two lines of trees on the map.

5- The Dead End

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This was probably the most confusing spot of all. On the map, there seems to be a continuation of the trail, after you come out of the trees. Well, as you can see from the above photo, there’s not. When you emerge from the little patch of forest, the path will come to what seems like an abrupt ending and you may even find some cars or motos parked in this area.

There will be a fence to your left. Don’t go to it. It is covered in barbed wire and luckily not the fence that you’re supposed to “climb.” Instead, turn slightly right and continue on through the small green field, into what looks like a little hole in the trees. It took us a realllllly long time to figure this out. We actually backtracked a while, because we couldn’t believe that’s where we were supposed to go. Once you’re in there though, it’s pretty straight forward with signs and markings on the trees!

6- “Climb the Fence”

DSC00948Again really thrown off by the “climb the fence” business. If it wasn’t for the white arrow on the other side, and the barbed wire on either side, I wouldn’t have believed it. Still, I barely consider this a fence to be “climbed.” I think they should have titled this- “step-over-the-fence” on the map, but maybe that’s just me.

7- The Marked Trees

DSC00974Once over the fence, in the last set of woods, there will be a lot of “marked” trees. I say “marked,” because some are a lot harder to find than others, which kind of defeats the purpose of the markings. All I can say is try your very best to find them and stay mostly to your right. We made a wrong turn and went downhill to the left a bit, which then resulted in us having to climb back up a pretty steep area. It wasn’t so bad, but also very avoidable if you find the markings.
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The above little red marking is the one that we missed when we went down to the left. I mean, can you blame us? It’s pretty faded and definitely not the easiest to see! Continue pretty steep downhill a few minutes to the right from here…
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And.. hopefully with little confusion, you’ll finally find Salto el Claro!!

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Tips for hiking to Salto el Claro

  • Wear hiking boots. The ground was super damp and slippery because of rain. And well, it rains in Pucón A LOT.
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks! You’re going to be in the middle of nowhere!
  • Take a picture of the treasure map for reference on your camera or phone, as the hostel only has one copy and won’t let you take it along.

You may also find this video on Youtube helpful 😀

Do you like going out of your way to find hidden gems when traveling? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!  

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A complete guide on how to find Salto el Claro in Pucón, Chile. Follow the treasure map with added tips for a budget activity in Pucón.


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This week I’m highlighting What you need for a Merry Little Czech Easter by Cynthia of Adventurings! I love learning about other culture’s quirky customs and this post was so fun to read! I still can’t believe that the Czech boys run around smacking women with willow branches on Easter 😛 If you haven’t already, be sure to go check out her post and spread the love! Thanks for linking up with us Cynthia! ?

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