Question: Is it better to travel with your parents or with your friends?
Location: Pucón, Chile
Hypothesis: Your friends.
Variables (there’s a lot that are unavoidable): your age both times you visit the place, the interest of your parents and your friends, the age of your parents and your friends, the money you have to spend, the time you have to spend, your level of understanding of the local language, street-intelligence, changes to the location, do you know the locals.. etc.
Let’s start with an image comparing my two visits.
Clearly there’s been a paint job, an extended fence, I’ve grown an inch or two, (maybe matured a little) and bought new clothes. Already we can see the place has changed and I’m an older person. But the best way to test this question is to base it on what we did:
2011: One of my biggest highlights from this first trip was the fact that I felt a tremor. The first time I have ever felt the ground tremble below me. I mean that’s pretty exciting! And to be exact, it was actually as I was taking this photo. I hopped up onto the post and felt like I was going to fall because it was moving a little too much. (After living in Chile for the year, I’ve felt about five more tremors, so they’re not quite as exciting anymore.)
Our stay in Pucón lasted a few days, and if I remember correctly we extended our stay. We spent our time in a cabin to ourselves, which was another highlight in itself. One day we went down to the local craft market to see what they had to offer. Another day we spent down on the lake, where dad and I hired out a kayak to head out kayaking. Another day dad and I had quite an adventure as we hired our bicycle to head towards los Ojos de Caburgua. We never quite reached the place but rather took the wrong route, were chased by farm dogs and returned along the highway. (Not the prettiest route.)
Due to our failure to reach Ojos de Caburgua, on our final day we took a tour that passed by the main lakes and ended in a thermal pool. Apparently to heighten the experience we had to jump into the freezing cold water and then run into the warmer water. Not the greatest idea because I had a cold on the 9 hours bus ride back to Santiago.
Despite these adventures, my perception of Pucón was relatively calm. It was a peaceful town, quite touristic, but a good get-away to escape the rush of the city.
2016: One of the biggest highlights in this trip was canyoning. We spent our four nights in a hostel and through them organised a trip out to a local park to canyon down various waterfalls. Apart from the thrill of canyoning, we wore our wetsuits and walked between the cliffs, below the hanging vines and through the streams, which in itself was a beautiful experience.
We were lucky enough to have a local with us, guiding us to the right places. On our first day we explored the lake Carburgua, went for a dip, and after that, we made it to Ojos de Caburgua.
We didn’t need to plan much ourselves as Juan, our local and access to a car, had the best places laid out for us.
The next day we took a long hike up through the mountains of Parque Nacional Huerquehue. What I loved about this park was we climbed up towards the lakes. The view of the Volcano Villarica got better and better and our award at the end was the refreshing lagoon. There were a few people in the water and it was a good way to take off the sweat and cool down. The return journey required less energy and was all downhill.
My overall perspective of Pucón, this round, was that it’s a place full of adventure. There were plenty of thrilling experiences available such as white water rafting, canyoning, trekking, climbing the volcano etc. and Pucon was the ideal place to find this excitement.
Both time I considered the option of climbing the famous Volcano, Villarica. The first time, my parents weren’t keen due to its physical requirements. The second time, we considered it to be out of our budget. (It cost 80,000 pesos chilenos [$160 Aussies dollars]).
So what are the results? Your experience is different, your time is spent differently and your perspective of the place changes. On one hand I had more money and more relaxation. On the other hand I had more adventure and exercise.
Conclusion: Due to unavoidable variables this experiment is too difficult to ascertain. In other words, por que no los dos? Both have their benefits and experiences. At the end of the day a lot of what you do really does depend on who you are with. But regardless, the people on your trip will make it interesting and leave you with a special memory.