Guided Hiking Tours

Argentina | Patagonia: The Lakes District

Lush, ancient forests; brilliant blue lakes; and massive volcanoes.

  • Lakes surrounded by forest and the Andes mountains
  • Hiking Argentina and Chile
  • Argentina Trek
  • Argentina Trek
  • patagonia group photo
  • hotel in Argentina
  • Hiking Argentina's Lake District
  • Hiking in Patagonia
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  • "I'd recommend having Dave and Eileen run a guided trip to Japan or the south island of New Zealand and we'll sign up and let you know if it was a good idea. Would travel with them anywhere! There seems to be a very good match in the types of hikes that Ryder-Walker would pick and that we would pick. Same for the hotels and the restaurants."- Bill Y and Elizabeth D.
  • "This trip to Patagonia was new this year and I go to be on the maiden voyage. It was VERY fun, challenging, and the other trekkers were wonderful. Argentina is beautiful, unpopulated country. The Argentinian people were very kind and went out of their way to assist in any way."- Joan Allan
  • "Don’t change a thing. It was perfect! Everything was exceptional!"- Tricia L.

Trip Highlights:

  • Huge views of the Andes Mountains, the longest continental mountain range in the world.
  • Mountain climbing, sparkling lakes, beach picnics, and hut-to-hut hiking all in one tour.
  • Welcoming inns every night of the tour. No camping here!

Step into Patagonia, a land of vast steppe grasslands, rugged and beautiful coastlines, endless foothills, and forests of indigenous trees. Patagonia’s lakes and rivers sparkle with infinite hues of blue while the massive volcanoes and jagged granite peaks of the Andean cordillera (the longest continental mountain range in world) rise abruptly against the skyline.

It is no secret that Patagonia boasts a wild reputation due to its rugged geography, strong winds, intrepid bandits (Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid were outlaws here), and the countless explorers that have chronicled their bold and heroic adventures. But Patagonia has a sophisticated side too, exemplified by welcoming inns, an elaborate trail system for hikers, well-appointed hiker’s huts and, of course, delicious food. We’ve developed an itinerary that centers on these luxuries, the crystalline lakes that comprise the “Lakes District” of Patagonia, and the intriguing little towns tucked along the famous Ruta 40.

We begin this 10-day inn-to-inn hiking tour of Patagonia in the famous resort town of San Carlos de Bariloche. Bariloche is the “Chocolate Capital of Argentina” and the preeminent gateway city to all things Patagonia. We sample the flavors of Bariloche then transfer to the idyllic mountain enclave of El Bolsón. Spend the next two days hiking along the crystal waters of the Cajon del Azul (the Blue Canyon), sampling homemade beer, tea, and pastries in cozy mountain huts, and summiting the Cerro Piltriquitron (7,415 ft/2,260 m), with its 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and the Patagonian Andes Mountains.

Transfer north to the sublimely beautiful peninsula known as Llao Llao. Hike up the Cerro Lopez (7,178 ft/2,188 m), one of the most famous alpine peaks of the region, and take in the grand views while sipping coffee on the deck of a perfectly positioned climber’s hut.

Continue the hiking tour with a boat ride across the area’s largest lake, Lago Nahuel Huapi. Once off the boat, we enjoy a hike through Los Arrayanes National Park. The park was created in 1971 to protect its forest of rare cinnamon colored Arrayan trees. Walk through the park and enjoy great views of Andes Mountains.  Next stop is San Martín de los Andes where we enjoy two hikes including a summit of Cerro Colorado (Mount Red), at 5,833 feet.

Finish this hiking tour through Patagonia by returning to San Carlos de Baraloche.

2019 Private Guided Highlight Video

Video credit: Ryder-Walker guide, Dave Nesis

Trip Itinerary

Arrive in Bariloche, the gateway to the Northern Patagonian Lakes District. Bariloche has grown from a tranquil town on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi to a popular mountain destination of choice amongst the Argentine elite. Bariloche is also the chocolate capital of Argentina, with shops lining the streets of its main shopping district. Meet the group for welcome drinks and dinner at 7 pm.

After breakfast we transfer by van 1.5-2 hrs south to the laid back village of El Bolsón, its name translating literally to “handbag” as it sits tucked between two high ranges. We hike up the Rio Azul en route to the Cajon de  Azul, or Blue Canyon, encountering amazingly clear blue water, multiple bridge crossings, and quaint refugios.

Distance: 9.5 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1500 ft.

Today we drive south to the outskirts of Bolsón and up to the trailhead to Cerro Piltriquitron, or Piltri, as the locals call it. After an hour of ascent we arrive at the refugio for a quick break. From the refugio we continue our ascent to the upper slopes of Piltri, where we have the option of taking in the magnificent views from a stopping point or we can continue on to the summit for amazing 360 degree views of the Patagonian Andes. On the way back down we can stop by the refugio for a coffee or tea and sample some of the homemade baked goods, or postres, they have to offer.

Distance: 6 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 3800 ft.

This morning we head north, skirting around the backside of bustling Bariloche, to the Llao Llao Peninsula and our trailhead for Cerro López. From the trailhead we climb through the forest to our first stop at Roca Negra, or Black Rock, a small hut in which we can enjoy a coffee or tea break. From there we continue our climb to Refugio López with unmatched views of the Llao Llao peninsula and Lago Nahuel Haupi. We then descend via the same route back to the van for quick transport. Tonight we stay at a lovely hotel in Llao Llao.

Distance: 6 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 2400 ft.

A little elevation boost via gondola and lift at Cerro Catedral ski area takes us to our trailhead where we start our classic hike. After a short climb to Punto Paradiso we begin the long traverse enjoying spectacular views into the Rucoca Valley and to the glaciated mighty Monte Tronador in the distance. From the Cancha de Futbol, Football Pitch Col, we drop down to Laguna Schmoll and on to Refugio Frey on the eastern shores of Laguna Toncek. Refugio Frey is famous for hosting the many rock climbers who scale the jagged granite spires in the surrounding area. After a rest we continue down through the forest, passing Refugio Piedras, and finish our long day back in the parking lot of Cerro Catedral Ski Center. Following a well-earned beverage we transfer back to the hotel in Llao Llao. 

Distance: 10.5 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 640/3800 ft.

After a transfer around Lago Nahuel Huapi we disembark at the northern tip of the Quetrihue Peninsula and Los Arrayanes National Park. The park was founded in 1971 to protect its forest of rare cinnamon colored Arrayan trees. Today’s hike is a very casual out and back stroll through the forest offering great views of the Cordillera de los Andes and Bahia Brava. Once we arrive back at the northern end of the peninsula we hop into the van for the 2 hr drive to one of our favorite villages in Argentina, San Martin de los Andes. 

Distance: 7 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 250/400 ft.

We hike from our hotel in San Martin around the bay up to the Mapuche settlement of Curruhinca, and on down to a lovely little beach on the shores of Lago Lácar named La Islita, meaning little island. Following a beach lunch we wander back up through Curruhinca to a fantastic overlook named Mirador Bandurrias, overlooking Lago Lácar. Retracing our steps we hike back towards San Martin via a series of singletrack trails weaving down through the hillside overlooking the idyllic little bay on which San Martin sits. Once back to town we should have ample time to explore this lovely little village.

Distance: 6.5 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1200 ft.

Today we hike the 5,833-foot peak of Cerro Colorado (Mount Red), an extinct volcano with breathtaking 360-degree views of the surrounding Andes Mountains and Lácar basin below, with its crystal clear lakes including Lácar and Lolog. We return to our hotel for another relaxing night.

Distance: 6 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 2530 ft

Today is somewhat of a travel day as we drive south back to Bariloche via the famously beautiful Ruta 40. We should arrive back in Bariloche by mid-day and have the option of a half-day hike, or you can take a walking tour of Bariloche’s Centro Civico and its main commercial shopping streets. We overnight in Bariloche and enjoy a final dinner celebration.

Awake to a delicious breakfast, then depart.

Patagonia: The Lakes District | Argentina

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