Refugio Frey Hike - A MUST in Bariloche, Argentina
This hike was definitely the highlight of my few days in Bariloche, Argentina. They call this city the gateway to Patagonia because it gives you a glimpse of how beautiful the area is and makes you excited for what awaits you as you keep going down south of Argentina and Chile.
Distance: 24 km / 15 mi return
Access: Hourly bus #55 from the center to Villa Cathedral
Time: 3.5 - 4 hours up / 2.5 - 3 hours down
The bus comes 15 after every hour. We got to the bus station at 9am to wait for the 9:15am bus but it never came then the 10:15am bus didn't come either. After that we gave ourselves until 10:30am until we called it quits and went elsewhere. Of course, the bus finally comes at 10:30am... better late than never.
Although it's long with some steep parts, most of it is flat or a low incline so it is quite manageable. The first 2 hours are very relaxing, just a stroll through the park type of walk. It's along the side of the mountain so you have a constant view of the mountains and lakes, which are breathtaking. The second half is definitely harder with steeper inclines and more chances of slipping on mud and dirt. The last 20 minutes is hiking over rocks and boulders. Again, it is overall a very manageable hike because families bring their kids up. We saw a ton of younger kids doing the hike.
At the very end of the hike there is a cabin where you could stay in for the night or areas where you can pitch your tent for free. If I had any of my camping gear, I would have definitely considered coming up here for the night. It's beautiful! I can't even imagine what the sunset or sunrise looks like. It did get a chilly at the top so I was glad to have brought my jacket. We had sandwiches and snacks that we enjoyed while looking at the refugio and taking in the beauty of mother nature.
The bus back to town comes 10 after the hour and the last bit of the hike we were hauling ass because we were going to make it pretty close. From the top, we saw the bus and we hustled but just missed it by a few minutes. Who would have thought they would actually be on time...
I met 2 girls from New York, Alana and Fish, on the bus from Pucon and we did the hike together. It's always great hiking with others, making the 7 hours a breeze. It's funny because I think I saw them on my walking tour in Santiago then on the bus to the national park in Pucon and then on the bus to Bariloche. Hopefully I'll see them again in El Calafate!
**more pictures to come - have to edit them first