Hiking in Patagonia

Things to Do — By davidmiller on May 25, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Lago Puelo National Park is a huge glacial basin and wilderness area just 10km south of  El Bolsón. There is daily bus service, on the hour from downtown El Bolsón.

I’ve been wanting to explore the area for the last several months and finally got a chance this weekend. I hiked the trail known as Sendero a Los Hitos. Here are some stats:

  • Location: Sendero a Los Hitos, P.N. Lago Puelo, Patagonia
  • Total distance covered: 36km
  • Time: 2 days, 1 night
  • Continuous hours hiking: 8 first day, 10 the second

horse running down road in Patagonia

Road to Lago Puelo National Park, Patagonia, Argentina

This trail typifies much of backcountry exploration in Patagonia in that it’s (a) incredibly beautiful and virtually free of other travelers, but (b) an “adventure” as far as trail-conditions / creek crossings / signage when compared with wilderness areas in the US.

With that in mind, here are 3 things to know about this trail:

1. It’s extremely wet in the Fall / Winter, which can make for cold and difficult conditions as well as potentially dangerous or outright impassable creek crossings.

2. The trail crosses the border from Argentina to Chile, so you need to bring a passport.

3. The trail crosses the mouth of the Rio Azul, which means you have three options: (a) wade across river–only possible in summer / months or when river is low, (b) pay local boat capitan Javier Correas [Tel: (02944) 49-8946 – Cel: (02944) 15 63-3838 – e-mail: juanadearcopaseos@elbolson.com] to ferry you across in raft, or (c) use the hanging bridge or “pasarela” 8km upstream.

I chose to have Javier ferry me across (40 pesos) to begin, and take the pasarela on the return trip.

old growth cohiue forest

All of these details aside, this hike takes you through almost unbelievably intense old growth cohiue forest, and totally pristine watersheds.

Animal sightings are rare (cover is dense, and the animals stay hidden),  however there is definitely wildlife habitat, including that of the world’s smallest deer (the Pudu Pudu, only 20″ tall), and its predator, the cougar. There are native trout in the lake and streams.

Those wanting an easier way to explore this area have hiking and camping options on the other side of the Rio Azul, or you can take a boat ride around the lake in the Juana de Arco.

Tags: backpacking, El Bolson, Lago Puelo, wilderness

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  1. Day Hiking Lago Puelo | El Bolsón | NileGuide - July 19, 2010