Bariloche has some of the best hikes in Argentinian Patagonia. In this 4 day Bariloche trekking itinerary, we’ll provide all the necessary information for you to conquer the best Bariloche day hikes and the best multi-day hike (Cerro Tronador). The Bariloche day hikes included in this trekking itinerary include Refugio Frey, Cerro Campanario and Cerro Llao Llao. Also, in this Bariloche travel guide, we’ll cover all of the details to help you plan your trip such as how to get there and where to stay.
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Bariloche 4 Day Trekking Itinerary
San Carlos de Bariloche (AKA Bariloche) in Argentina, South America, is known for many things – some things related to trekking and some things not related to trekking. Firstly, the town serves as the main hub for visiting the Nahuel Huapí National Park. This area is considered the Argentinean Lake District. It’s where all your amazing hikes will take place.
Secondly, Bariloche is known as the ‘gateway of Patagonia’. So it could be the starting location of your Patagonia adventure. For us though, it was our final destination after travelling for a month upwards from Ushuaia. Thirdly, Bariloche is considered the ‘Chocolate capital’. There is an abundance of delicious kilojoules close by to help fuel your activities here!
Last but not least, being known as the ‘Switzerland of Argentina’ is overtly apparent with the chalet-style architecture. It makes Bariloche a very unique town of Patagonia. So, with all the interesting construction and mouth-watering chocolate to enjoy, let’s not forget about the beautiful hikes. Although not as well known as the multi-day W Trek, the multi-day Cerro Tronador hike in Bariloche was easily on par and much quieter.
Below, we’ve made a Bariloche 4 day itinerary, which includes all of the best trekking experiences in the area. By following this Bariloche itinerary in 4 days, you’ll cover the absolute best Bariloche day hikes as well as the best overnight trekking experience (Cerro Tronador). Certainly, if you’re a trekking enthusiast, this itinerary will tell you exactly what to do in Bariloche in 4 days. As mentioned, this guide will also help you plan your trip to Bariloche.
Bariloche Itinerary Day 1: Refugio Frey
On the first day of this Bariloche trekking itinerary, you’ll be doing the Refugio Frey day hike. If you’re wondering what to see in Bariloche in 4 days, this is one thing you’ll want to experience.
Getting to Refugio Frey
Catch Bus 55: you’ll alight from the bus at the final stop which is a huge car park at the base of the Cerro Catedral ski resort; the largest in South America. Then, walk across the car park and look for a wooden sign labelled FREY to begin the trail. Admittedly, we got a little lost wandering around this huge and empty car park. We should have just followed the locals!
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 22km
- Time: 5.5-7 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 750m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Cerro Catedral Ski Resort
This is a 22km return hike and takes anywhere between 5.5 and 7 hours. From the beginning, you’ll start to steadily rise a dirt trail. Be aware that all of the trails we encountered in Bariloche were quite dusty so we would recommend a neck gaiter. Overall, the trail isn’t technical at all and is very easy to follow.
Soon enough, you’ll have great views of gorgeous lakes. There’ll be more forest-type landscape as you continue a slight ascent. Just prior to reaching Refugio Frey is a final upward push. But otherwise, the hike isn’t too steep or physically demanding. What awaits you is a quaint pristine lagoon called Laguna Toncek with jagged mountainous tops afar. At a decent pace, the hike up will take 3–4 hours.
You could spend the night in the Refugio, and perhaps this is a good idea as part of a longer trek that passes by. However, we thought considering there was already one overnight hike on this Bariloche trekking itinerary, that we would do this hike as a day trip.
Getting Back to Bariloche
The return hike is much quicker, for us 2.5 hours. You will get the same No. 55 bus back to town.
Bariloche Itinerary Day 2: Cerro Campanario
On the second day of this Bariloche trekking itinerary, we recommend doing two hikes – Cerro Campanario and Cerro Llao Llao.
Getting to Cerro Campanario
Catch Bus 20: As part of the Bariloche trekking itinerary, we recommend doing both Cerro Campanario and Cerro Llao Llao day hikes on the same day. This is because they are near one another on the Circuit Chico; a popular and scenic, traditionally driven loop. The bus will head towards Llao Llao, which is the final stop around the 24km mark from town. This is where you will head to later. However, for the first hike you will alight at 17.5km at the bottom of the chair lifts to Cerro Campanario. See Google MyMaps here.
Although we asked the driver to stop at Campanario, we mistakenly were not ready in time. We had to track back about 1.5km so make sure you’re more alert than we were! Find the bus 20 timetable link provided.
Cerro Campanario Hike
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 5km
- Time: 1 hour
- Accumulated elevation gain: 240m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Cerro Campanario Chairlifts
This is a 5km return hike, only taking around an hour. Get here as early as possible as the tour groups start to arrive around 10am. They get the chairlifts! The short 2.5km ascent to the top gains about 250 metres of elevation, so it’s a solid 30 minute workout. Essentially, it’s a walk up a dusty trail. Once at the top, there are many different viewpoints of the amazing lakes. The lookout from the cafe is stunning!
Getting to Cerro Llao Llao From Cerro Campanario
Cerro Campanario to Cerro Llao Llao: Once you’ve finished your coffee atop Cerro Campanario, you’ll then trace your steps back to the bus stop and wait for Bus 20. If you were really in the mood for walking, you could hypothetically walk the approximate 7.5km to Llao Llao. But I would save your energy and time for the Llao Llao hike.
Bariloche Itinerary Day 2: Cerro Llao Llao
It’s now time for the second hike of the day on the second day of your Bariloche trekking trip.
Cerro Llao Llao Hike
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 15km
- Time: 4 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 294m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Puerto Pañuelo
This is a 15km loop and takes around four hours. Again, this is a very easy walk with no technical sections. To get there, alight at the final stop at Puerto Pañuelo. From here, follow the Circuito Chico road with the lake to your right. The road will turn into a forested area. After 10 minutes or so, you will reach the Sendero de los Arrayanes trailhead on your left. It’s possible to start the loop here but this is actually where we finished. We followed the road for another few minutes until reaching Sendero Villa Tacul on our right.
From here to the main Cerro Llao Llao lookout is about 3km. The start of the hike is quite flat until you reach the actual turnoff to the summit of Cerro Llao Llao. This is a steep zigzag affair with 230 metres of elevation that takes around 20–30 minutes. Here, the panoramic views of the lakes are breathtaking. A great spot for lunch.
Where to After the Cerro Llao Llao Lookout?
Now, if you’re satisfied with this, we don’t blame you. There’s no one stopping you from returning back to Puerto Pañuelo from here to get the bus back to town. However, the day was still young for us, so we decided to complete the entire loop.
Head back down the zig-zag path and continue on to Villa Tacul; a beach with views to Lago Nahuel Huapí (AKA Nahuel Huapi Lake). We were blessed with a beautiful blue sky. This made for exceptional views and the temptation to even go for a dip!
Using Maps.me to help coordinate the route, we then headed to Mirador del Tacul. To complete the loop, we made our way through the peaceful Sendero de los Arryanes trail passing by Mirador Lago Moreno.
Getting Back to Bariloche
You will get the same No. 20 bus back, from a bus stop opposite to Puerto Pañuelo.
Bariloche Itinerary Days 3 and 4: Cerro Tronador
We’ve left the best to last in this ultimate Bariloche trekking itinerary. An overnight hike to Reugio Otto Meiling which is located at the base of Cerro Tronador. This is where you’ll stay the night! Over the 2 days, you’ll cover 36km plus an additional walk adding another 4km. Read below for an overview of the distances/duration.
Cerro Tronador Hike Details
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 40km
- Time: 9-12 hours (w/overnight camp)
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1,050m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Refugio Otto Meiling
- Day 1 – 18km one way (5–7 hours): Pampa Linda (starting point of the hike) to Refugio Otto Meiling at Cerro Tronador. The hike up is steep so it takes much longer going up than coming down!
- Day 2 – 18km one way +4km return hike (4–5 hours:) Refugio Otto Meiling at Cerro Tronador to Pampa Linda. There is an optional 4km return hike to the base of Castaño Overo (Hanging Glacier Falls).
This hike begins at a fork intersection roughly 5.5km away from Pampa Linda. It heads back in the direction of Cerro Tronador (where you’ve just come from) on a separate flat path. So when you reach the base, you are then 7.5km away from Pampa Linda (the finish line!)
Getting to Cerro Tronador
Shuttle bus: there is no public transport. But there are tour companies in town all offering the minivan return service for the same price. Essentially they all depart from town around 8:30am. The arrive at Pampa Linda around 11am. They then return from the same spot at 5pm the following day, arriving back in Bariloche around 7:30pm. It is $1500ARS ($24USD) return. They also offer one way for 900ARS ($14USD), but you need to return anyway so book the return ticket. We booked in town with Travel Light, 2 days in advance. The staff there were really nice and helpful.
Refugio Accommodation Options at Cerro Tronador
Otto Meiling Refugio: in 2020, sleeping in the actual refugio for 1 night is $1500ARS ($24USD)/person. Upstairs is a room full of mattresses. So you will just need to take a sleeping bag or rent one there for $400ARS ($6USD). The other option is camping, which is $500ARS ($8USD)/person. Although you can hire a sleeping bag, you will need to take all other camping equipment (tent, sleeping mats, etc.). Bear in mind, it gets very windy up there! Downstairs in the refugio is a bar, kitchen (only dishwashing available) and seating area. This is available to everyone who have paid to stay the night, whether camping or staying in the refugio.
Renting Camping Gear for Cerro Tronador
We were very lucky in that our awesome Airbnb host lent us his camping gear free of charge! Otherwise, there are some camping rental places in town. Del Cruce Outdoor Shop & Rental have good reviews. Overall, you will have to weigh up the costs of hiring camping equipment for 2 days versus sleeping in the Refugio for 1 night.
The Hike – Day 1
Today will be much tougher than Day 2! The initial sections to get to Cerro Tronador are fairly mundane on dirt trail in the forest. After that, the middle sections have some really steep switchbacks that start to take you from forest to exposed rocky areas. You will first start to see the glaciers including the stunning hanging glacier (Castaño Overo) falls. Be careful on the rocky terrain. It begins to get very windy, particularly as you get closer to the refugio. But there is no technical hiking. Here, not only will you have incredible 360 degree panoramic views of the Andes, but you will be standing at the base of Cerro Tronador and in between two glaciers!
The Hike – Day 2
Make sure you are awake for sunrise at Cerro Tronador. This is certainly a highlight of the entire adventure – a fleeting moment where Cerro Tronador will be covered in an amazing orange glow. Heading back down the trail is much easier and less time consuming so you can take your time with breakfast after watching the sunrise.
We actually had a unique experience in that the Argentinean army was also camping at the time at Cerro Tronador. They were friendly enough. But it was super annoying when we were trying to pack up our camping gear with the gust of dirt and rocks flying our way when their men were continuously practising landing their helicopter on a nearby helipad!
Although there is no need to rush back, we did find that the best time of day for photography of Castaño Overo from above was around 9–10am so aim to be there then!
After descending the switchbacks from Cerro Tronador, it is time for the 4km return hike to the base of the falls. Keep in mind, it’s absolutely possible to do this on Day 1. But because Day 2 is much easier, you’ll have more time to enjoy the walk. The views from below the falls were awe-inspiring. We even had the place to ourselves for lunch! We then found our way back to Pampa Linda by 3pm and back to Bariloche a few hours later.
Bariloche 4 Day Trekking Itinerary Recap
Four days spent trekking in Bariloche is four days very well spent. This northern Argentinian part of Patagonia consists of picturesque lakes and a gorgeous mountainous landscape. Throw on top of that, fantastic food in town, and you have the perfect combination for a great time. Hiking and chocolate, the dream! Below, we’ll cover more details about the non-trekking related details about Bariloche as well logistic details to help plan your trip.
Where to Buy Supplies in Bariloche
On Days 1 and 2 of this Bariloche trekking itinerary, you should have at least a few hours in the mid to late afternoon to explore the town itself and all its delicious chocolate stores and cafes. If you like chocolate as we do, we can confirm that Mamuschka is heaven for chocolate lovers.
They have mouth-watering options at the café and a huge shop inside. Also, for the supposed best alfajores in Argentina, we headed to Havana and were not disappointed. There is also a chocolate museum here! Make sure that you don’t feel guilty about indulging in these treats. All of the hiking you are doing means you have earned those extra kilojoules. That’s how we justify it anyway! Plus, you’re on holiday! So splurging on chocolate and treats is a must.
For general groceries, we went to Carrefour Hipermercado.
How to Get to Bariloche
Bus: we had finished the Chilean portion of our Patagonia trip in Puerto Montt. Flying to Bariloche would be too expensive so we caught a bus. Using Busbud, we booked in advance with Andesmar for $18USD/person. The bus departed 7am, arriving around 3:15pm. This was despite the arrival time on the ticket being 2 hours earlier! This was thanks to a lengthy border crossing and roadwork.
Busbud is one of the best online bus booking platforms. Wherever you’re travelling, you can easily compare bus tickets from different companies and book the best option for your trip. We highly recommend using Busbud to find the cheapest bus fares.
If you are starting your Patagonia trip in Bariloche, flying from Buenos Aires is the best option. The flight duration is 2 hours 20 minutes and costs as little as $50USD. This will depend on checked-in baggage and how far in advance you book. Otherwise, a +24 hour bus journey for $47USD awaits you! At only a slightly cheaper price but a vastly different travel time, it seems a no brainer to me!
Our next destination post Patagonia was Santiago. So, we needed to do the reverse bus journey ($18USD/person) back to Puerto Montt with the bus company – Via Bariloche, departing 7am and arriving around 2:00pm, and then flying to Santiago. Again, we booked through Busbud. Booking with them is reliable and easy to use. Bariloche was our final destination in Patagonia. If Bariloche is the start of your Patagonia trip, you may also follow this same route if you begin exploring the Carretera Austral in Chilean Patagonia!
Bariloche Accommodation For Your Trekking Itinerary
Airbnb: we stayed at an Airbnb in town for $18USD/night. It was a private room in a flat with a private bathroom. The host was very kind and welcoming, plus the kitchen was well stocked and the dining area spacious. We thought it was great value!
If you’re not keen on an Airbnb, we recommend finding accommodation in Bariloche on Booking.com.
Getting Around Bariloche
Local bus: all of the day hikes that you will do as part of this itinerary are easily reached by using the local bus – MiBus. However, you’ll need a SUBE card to be able to use this service.
We initially bought our SUBE cards at Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza International Airport for $100ARS ($1.55USD). This allowed us to catch the bus from there to the city centre. If you do not already have a SUBE card upon arrival in Bariloche, they are easy to find. They’re sold at nearly every mini market. You will also need to add money onto the card. This can be easily completed in the same transaction as when you buy the card itself.
Where to Catch the Bus
All of the buses required can be caught from the city centre opposite the Intendencia Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapí administration building on San Martín Road. The timetable continuously changes so we recommend finding a local bus timetable upon arrival in Bariloche.
Hiking Essentials For Your Bariloche Itinerary
These are some hiking gear essentials that are great for a Bariloche trekking trip.
Osprey Skarab 30
The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.
BUFF Original Ecostretch
The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.
To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.
Camping Essentials For Your Bariloche Itinerary
We were lucky enough to borrow some camping gear from our awesome Airbnb host. However, if you are taking your own camping gear, here is a list to help you pack the camping essentials.
- Pack your own food for Cerro Tronador: the meals on offer at Refugio Otto Meiling were pricey and didn’t look extraordinary. So you should stock up at a supermarket and take your own food for the overnight hike.
- Pack your layers: when you look at the Bariloche temperature and weather by month, you’ll come to understand that wearing warm clothes is often necessary for most of the year. Especially for multi-day hikes in the mountains, make sure to pack layers!
- Other Bariloche activities: of course, there are other great hikes to do in Bariloche that we didn’t cover in this trekking itinerary. One of the other most popular treks in Bariloche is the Cerro Otto Hike. Otherwise, if you’re looking for non-hiking-related things to do, consider a day trip to the well-known town of Colonia Suiza.
Register Online For All Bariloche Hiking
There is a compulsory registration form you must complete each time you go hiking in the Nahuel Huapí National Park. The information provided helps the National Park office collate statistics and is also essential in case of any accidents in the mountains. But you won’t be checked for this on the day hikes.
We had forgotten to do it for the overnight hike and were asked about it by a National Park ranger at the Pampa Linda office. Thankfully, they were happy to help us fill in a hard copy form there. But it would have been quicker if we had just done the right thing in the first place and completed the form online.
Bariloche Itinerary FAQs
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about planning a trekking itinerary in Bariloche.
How Many Days Do I Need In Bariloche?
Beck and I personally spend 4 days in Bariloche to complete this trekking itinerary. Of course, we would have loved more time in Bariloche. But, at the very least, you should spend 3 days in Bariloche to experience the best of the town and to complete some of the best hikes.
Is 3 Days in Bariloche Enough?
Yes, although, it’s unlikely you’ll have time for the overnight Cerro Tronador hike.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Bariloche?
Ultimately, the best time to visit Bariloche depends on your interests and what activities you wish to pursue. Of course, if you’re interested in trekking, we recommend visiting Bariloche in Summer (December to February) for the best weather. Although, this is also the peak season, so it’s the busiest time to visit.
Is Bariloche Worth Visiting?
Yes, absolutely! Other than seeing the breathtaking town of Bariloche, experiencing the nearby natural attractions is a must on any Patagonia itinerary.
Other Patagonia Guides
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