Cerro Castillo

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One of the best hikes in the world

Around Cerro Castillo

  • Castle Hill
  • Castle Mountain
  • Cerro Castillo Circuit

Note: This page is a stub. We were last there in 2005. Things have changed. You can recommend improvements by leaving recommendations or links in the comments on this page. Our editors will consider them. Thanks for your help!


  • Cerro Castillo 2675m (8776ft) the highest peak in the central Patagonian Andes
  • normal trekking route is 62km (38.5mi) plus sidetrips
  • recommended 4 days, 3 nights
  • nearest city is Coihaique, Chile
  • picturesque highway — the Careterra Austral — brings you to the trailhead
  • Cerro Castillo National Reserve was upgraded to a National Park in Oct 2017. It’s one of a chain of 17 now designated as Chile’s Route of Parks, or Ruta de los Parques. 

Why We Like This Hike

  • stunning glacier, lakes & jagged basalt mountains
  • remote, uncrowded
  • low risk of altitude sickness
  • fantastic views from Laguna Cerro Castillo
  • good fishing nearby
  • does not get the massive precipitation of the coastal peaks
  • slight chance to see the rare hemul deer, symbol of Chile (we did)
  • the days are long in Patagonia during their summer — it is light until at least 10PM
  • no special trekking permit is required
  • no fees for the rough campsites
  • bag Paine & Fitz Roy treks on the same trip
  • Castillo means castle in Spanish


  • speak conversational Spanish if you want to do the trek on your own
  • this hike is in the wilderness
  • there is public transport from Coyhaique, Chile
  • If the weather turns bad, as it likely will, it may be epic
  • plan for terrible weather — rain, sleet, snow highly likely
  • Dec to March are the best months
  • Castillo is more famous with mountaineers than hikers
  • these central Patagonian Andes have terrific potential for hiking, yet the infrastructure is not much developed
  • tent only, no hut (refugio) yet built
  • no toilets
  • a 4-season tent with good tie-downs would be ideal
  • it can get cold. Be well prepared.


  • Entry to new National Park $8 / person (2019)
  • Budget a minimum of US$40 a day to travel Chile. Days on the trek will save you money.


Three trailhead start options based on highway signposts:

  1. at 64kmLaguna Chiguay campground & Conaf Guarderia Chiguay which will give you last minute advice on the trek.
  2. at 75km – a bend in the highway called Las Horquetas Grandes, if you wish to start the long hiking route immediately.
  3. at 98km – the town of Villa Cerro Castillo, from where you can do short hikes directly to the mountain.
  • Lonely Planet Trekking in the Patagonian Andes is the essential guidebook
  • we recommend the full route starting either at trailheads #1 or #2 above — though the short hikes out of Villa Cerro Castillo are excellent too for those rushed for time
  • we stayed overnight in Villa Cerro Castillo which offers several pleasant options
  • some boulder scrambling, route finding & creek fording
  • rated medium-difficult. If you reverse the recommended route, it is more challenging.
  • sidetrip to Laguna Duff well worth the effort
  • parts of the main trail pass through private property

wikiexplora recommends this itinerary:

  1. Day  The Big Horquetas (Laguna Chiguay) – Camping Rio Turbio
  2. Day Camping Rio Turbio – Laguna Cerro Castillo
  3. Day Laguna Cerro Castillo – Camping New Zealand
  4. Day Camp New Zealand – Villa Cerro Castillo

Summitpost has two more possible itineraries.

Trekking Guides


Cerro Castillo is in Patagonia about 46 degrees south. About 75km from Cerro Castillo.

  • fly or ferry to Coihaique, Chile
  • we stayed overnight in Coyhaique (which suffers a disagreeable reputation in guidebooks) & quite enjoyed the town. No problems.
  • a private vehicle would be ideal, otherwise you’ll likely end up renting a vehicle
  • public buses are infrequent and unreliable
  • you can try hitchhiking — but there is very little traffic

Local Information

  • South American Explorers is your first and best source of information on arrival in South America. The organization seems to be closed.
  • CONAF  (Corporación Nacional Forestal) is responsible for Parks in Chile. Try the CONAF office in Coyhaique when you get there.
  • CONAF Guarderia Chiguay at one of the trailheads could give you last minute advice
  • we asked around in the town of Villa Cerro Castillo. Folks there were quite helpful, keen on increasing tourism.

Best Trekking Guidebooks

Best Travel Guidebooks

Related Books

Crouch is ideal reading when tentbound due to weather. 🙂

Best Maps

  • IGM Chile 1:50,000: Lago Elizalde (Section I, No 132), Balmaceda (Section I, No 133), Villa Cero Castillo (Section J, No 10)

Best Web Pages

Best Trip Reports



Click PLAY or watch a short Ecotravel Patagonia autumn trip highlights vid on YouTube.

Note: This page is a stub. Questions? Suggestions? Leave a REPLY on this page. Our editors will reply.


16 Replies to “Cerro Castillo”

    1. Nice weather.

      I’ve linked to your trip report from our Cerro Castillo page.

      I was actually in Chile in Jan / Feb, as well. Did not get south on this trip however.

      1. Thank you! It was our first time in Chile and we really loved it! Amazing county and people! Definitely will go again and do more hikes there!

  1. Wow, amazing! Im looking to do this (arriving in balmaceda on 30th Jan 2017….) Wanted to post here to see if anyone else fancies hikiing together?! I will prob do this first and then some kayaking and maybe a different route further south. Email amyrobinson150@gmail.com if you’re about!!!

  2. Hyperthermia IS a potential problem in the summer on Cerro Castillo and has been the cause of at least on death on the mountain the past three years. While it isn’t high altitude, it can have extreme weather. Hikers – make sure that you are prepared for very fast changes in the weather.

  3. Thank you for this useful information. Do you have any idea how long is a day hike to the laguna? And the weather now in may? How is the day hike compared to Fitz Roy?

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