Nahuel Huapi Traverse – day 0

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles 

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

This is one of the very best hikes in the Andes. But it’s extremely difficult.


  • high level ridge walking with scrambles. Some exposure. And route finding. I wish I’d had a GPS track to follow.
  • Nahuel Huapi is pronounced nah-well-wah-pee
  • December to March are the best months
  • Nahuel Huapi National Park is the oldest in Argentina
  • the tourist mecca jumping off point of San Carlos de Bariloche is a transportation hub
  • convenient city bus service whisks you 20km from Bariloche to the trailhead at Villa Catedral, a popular ski resort 
  • the Traverse — Villa Catedral to Puente Lopez —is only 36.5km (23mi) but they are some of the most difficult trails you’ve hiked
  • it’s easy to shorten this 4 day adventure by exiting early down a number of different valleys

As you probably guessed, I did the entire thing.

Happily, I survived.

Every tourist who travels to Argentina’s lake district spends time in tourist trap Bariloche.

Close together in town are the Tourist Information office, Nahuel Huapi National Park Office and Club Andino Bariloche (CAB) Mountain Info Center.

CAB is the best place to go for information. You can fill out your FREE registration with (guessed) itinerary. There’s no need to stick to that route once you start, however.

If unsure, put down the full Traverse.

he classic (difficult) Traverse has you sleeping 4 nights in the mountains. No reservation for tenting is required except at Frey. 

  1. Refugio Frey  (alternative Cascada if Frey is booked)
  2. Refugio San Martin (Jakob)
  3. Refugio Segre (Italia)
  4. Refugio López

Unless you are exhausted, there’s no need to stop at López. It’s only 3.5km to the highway bus stop near Puente López, walking distance from the town of Colonia Suiza.

I always prefer sleeping in a tent to the alternative: noisy, crowded, dirty communal hut mattresses.

Bariloche has plenty of outdoor stores (camping fuel) and a few large supermarkets. Stock up for your hike. Celebrate with excellent Argentinian gelato.

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

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