San Carlos de Bariloche is a stunning lakeside town on the Argentinian side of Patagonia. It’s a three-hour bus ride from the quaint town of San Martin de Los Andes and it is a popular location for seasonal vacations and end-of-the-school-year trips. The natural setting combined with a small city-town vibe is a place not to miss for someone looking to embark on some of the most beautiful hikes in South America even if you are not a very active or athletic person.
I present to you part two of my two-part guide to hiking in Bariloche!
Part II: Guide to Hiking Cerro Catedral in Patagonia
If you are ready to take on a challenging hike while in Bariloche, you must do the hike to Refugio Frey and Cerro Catedral. I did this hike about five days before arriving in El Chalten to hike Cerro Fitz Roy. This hike, as well as the one to Cerro Llao Llao, helped me not only acclimate to the altitude, but it also helped condition me to be able to physically do that hike. Cerro Catedral is a ski resort in the winter, and in the summer it offers a great opportunity to explore northern Patagonia. These hikes are known for their granite pinnacles such as the ones at Cerro Frey, which are absolutely worth experiencing.
Elevation Gain: 950 meters (3116.8 feet)
Mountain Range: Andes Range
Length: 13 kilometers (8 miles)
Duration: 5-7 hours
Hiking to Cerro Frey from Lago Gutierrez
Arriving at Refugio Frey
Refugio Frey is a refuge for hikers who are backpacking the mountains and need somewhere to sleep for the night. I received various answers about the cost of using Refugio Frey. I was told that it was free to camp outside, but that you could purchase warm food here. However, I have also read online that it is $180 ARS per night to sleep inside and $45 ARS to use the kitchen. Due to not needing the services, I didn’t inquire about the cost. It would be best to stay on the safe side and have enough ARS with you to sleep and use the kitchen at those rates.
Hiking from Refugio Frey to Cerro Catedral
Keep hiking the ridge until you begin to see signs of a ski resort and lifts. Locate the trail leading down and hike along the right for about an hour. You will see the ski resort’s parking lot and there you will walk to the bus stop and take the bus back into Bariloche!
What to bring: Water, water purifier, trekking poles, lunch, snacks, windbreaker with a hoodie, sunglasses.
Experience Level: Somewhat experienced. This hike can take 5-7 hours depending on the trail conditions and also your pace. It’s about 13 kilometers to Cerro Catedral with a bit of steepness.
When to Hike: Unless you are a pro-hiker in snow with gators, it’s best to do this hike in the late spring t0 early fall which would be October to April. Start your hike early in the morning to avoid being caught in the trails in the dark or bad weather.
Planning to hike in Argentina? Read my Fitz Roy hiking more guides and tips.
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