January 2017: Prepping For Hikes In Argentina’s Lakes Region

Click on the More options prompt on the top left of the map for a full-screen view.

In a month from now I will be in Bariloche area of  Argentina for three weeks of hiking and volcano climbing.  It is located in northern Patagonia on the east side of the Andes in an area known for its volcanoes and sapphire-coloured alpine lakes. The Chilean side is just as spectacular!

After flying down from Toronto to Santiago de Chile and then on to Puerto Montt, I’ll spend the first three nights in Puerto Varas as I find my feet and my castellano! After an easy first day checking out Puerto Varas, I hope to bus over to the  Volcan Osorno (2,652-meters) for a walk to the top – it will make a nice warm-up hike. There is a cable lift which takes you up part way; I think I’ll get a lift ticket!


From Puerto Varas,  I cross the Andes into Argentina and the resort town of (San Carlos de) Bariloche. See here for the Cruce de Lagos website.


It promises to be a scenic bus/boat trip even if a bit pricy at $280. U.S.  The Google map above shows the much cheaper bus route but I think this splurge will be worth it!   It will take me past Volcan Osorno again as well as across Lago Totos Los Santos from Petrohue to Peulla.  It takes 12 hours to  get to Bariloche.


A couple of years ago I spent $320. US for a spectacular 45-minute balloon ride over the Plains of Merit in Pagan, Burma so I have had practice in rationalizing  seemingly ridiculous expenditures.  See Ballooning Over The Plains Of Bagan for my thoughts on that extravagance!


I’ll be spending two weeks in the area, a few days in town getting organized and one on a rented bicycle saddle doing the Circuito Chico, a 60 km ride along the lakeshore to the Hotel Llao Llao.  I’ve already booked a room for three nights at the Hostel 41 Below in the downtown area. A  selling point was the vegetarian meals served at lunch and dinner.  It can be difficult sticking to a vegan diet while travelling.  This should make my stay in Bariloche  somewhat easier!

Most of my time in the Bariloche area will be spent on the hiking trails to the west. I have two hikes planned:

  1. the five-day hike from Cerro Catedral to Refugios Frey, Jakob (San Martín), Laguna Negra (Italia), and Lopez before coming down to Colonia Suissa and a bus ride back to Bariloche.  I’ll have my tent – but if the weather is really bad a space in the refugio is an option.
  2. a hike up to Refugio Otto Meiling  from Pampa Linda.  Once there I hope to find a guide who can get me to the top of Cerro Tronador (a 3,470 meter high extinct volcano) – or at least to Pico Argentino. It is the peak accessible from the Argentinian side.  Glacier melt over the past decade or so means that the actual highest peak is a dangerous undertaking.  It would be a ten-hour slog starting around 3 a.m. to takre advantage of the  harder snow.   I will bring along my crampons and climbing harness; I may be able to rope in with a group that is already going. I did find a guide service which offered to do it for $650. for the day but have to believe that it can be had for much less. Time will tell!

After that things are a bit up in the air.  I know I’ll be heading to the north end of Lago Nahuel Huapi to Villa de Angostura and then up to San Martin de los Andes but have no goal in mind other than to arrange a hike to the top of Volcan Lanín with one of the many agencies based in San Martín. A three-day $650. excursion looks like the solution.


I then loop back to Chile through the town of Osorno and spend the last two nights in Puerto Montt – I’ve pre-booked a room at the Hotel Seminario on a street above the downtown area –  before flying back to Toronto near the end of February.

I now have the month of January to up my fitness level a bit so that I can do all the above and enjoy it!  A couple of Saturdays ago I slipped on some black ice on my street while walking my dog Viggo and badly bruised my hip. I was barely able to walk the 150 meters back home, thinking all the while about what this could mean for my upcoming trip! Well, it is two weeks later and the hurt is all but gone. However,  my training program was put aside while I healed.  Now to get back to where I was!

My  January 2 activity  so far has  included a 1 hour 15 minute walk with Viggo and a more intense  45-minute bicycle ride on the city streets, which were clear of ice and snow. One more 45-minute walk with V and that will be it for today.  Tomorrow’s +6ºC is nice but the rain  will make a longer bike ride unlikely.


If I can keep riding the streets it means  I won’t have to resort to the boring treadmill at the gym or to my Nordic Trak machine in the basement.  I may earn some aerobics points by putting in a jog or two through my Riverdale/Cabbagetown neighbourhood instead of cycling.

Update: Check out these posts to see how it all went down!

Puerto Varas in Chile’s Lakes Region – Top Things To Do!

Climbing Volcan Osorno in Chile’s Lakes Region

By Boat And Bus Through The Andes – The Cruce Andino

Base Camp Bariloche & The Hiking Trails of Northern Patagonia

The Hike To Refugio Otto Meiling – Getting Closer To Cerro Tronador


This entry was posted in Argentina, Chile, hiking/trekking. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to January 2017: Prepping For Hikes In Argentina’s Lakes Region

  1. jane demeo says:

    Cool Beans…looks like an awesome trip! Looking forward to hearing about it!

    • true_north says:

      Awesome indeed – or as the Brits would say – “brilliant”! I’m working on reviving my rudimentary Spanish right now. Since I’ve only used it for three weeks every couple of years starting with my first visit to Peru a decade ago, I keep relearning the same stuff! I need to up the frequency of my visits to the Andes! Now that would be copado!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi, Peter. Sorry to hear about your fall. I hope you feel better already.

    • true_north says:

      What can I say! A bit of black ice and a sideways crash to the sidewalk while Viggo licked my face. Let’s put it down as one of those things that commonly happen to old people!

Your comments and questions are always appreciated, as are any suggestions on how to make this post more useful to future travellers. Just drop me a line or two!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.