Refugio Hopping in El Bolson

In El Bolson you can literally watch the time going by. There is no rush – no stress – especially if you hike up the mountains towards the border of Chile and hop from refugio to refugio, enjoying delicious self-made pizza and cerveza.

While El Bolson is a known place amongst the backpacker scene, the hikes up in the mountains are not flooded by tourists yet. I was there over the Easter holidays 2015 and even then I met only few people.

Tour Information

  • Date: Eastern 2015 – solo trip for 1 week in total
  • Bring your own tent or pay for a place to sleep in on of the multiple refugios
  • Take a remis / taxi to get to the starting point – I got dropped here down at the Rio Azul: -41.93941, -71.55924
  • From there hike up north and cross the river via the rope bridge here: -41.92292, -71.55892
  • I continued hiking up to Refugio Hielo Azul: -41.88884, -71.6394
  • Excellent basic information around this trail and all further trails in this region can be found here: www.trekelbolson.com
  • Additionally, the overview map from the El Bolson Tourist Office is very helpful – you can download the PDF here
  • My way of hiking (excluding non-listed extensions):
    1. Refugio Hielo Azul
    2. Refugio Natacion
    3. Refugio Cajon del Azul
    4. Refugio El Retamal
    5. Refugio La Horqueta
    6. Refugio Los Laguitos
    7. Refugio Encanto Blanco

Difficulties & Challenges

  • None – easy trails, hardly a chance to get lost even without a map (not recommended btw. – you get a basic map in the tourist office in El Bolson), enough opportunities to refill water and food can be bought at most of the refugios.

Tour Alternatives & Ideas

  • In case you bring a packraft (which I didn’t) and enough time (which I didn’t either), I thought about extending the trip from Refugio Los Laguitos further north-east to Lago Soberania and Lago Montes. From there you can head down to Lago Escondido. There is no official trail so it could be an interesting challenge. However, locals told me that the area around Lago Escondido is private so this is something that should be reviewed again before you head out.

Getting There & Away

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