Mountain huts, or Refugios as they are called in Spanish, provide shelter for hikers and mountain climbers in many regions of the world. Accommodation in these huts is generally fairly basic – a roof and sometimes a platform on which to throw down your sleeping bag. Other huts have luxuries such as bathrooms, kitchens and some are even staffed during the summer months. But even the best huts would struggle to obtain one star on the Michelin scale.
So why, you might ask, would you want to go to one?
You’ll know the answer to that question when you wake up in the morning and walk out the front door of the refugio. The view will be spectacular, the air crisp and clean and the only noise you will hear is the birds chirping and the wind blowing through the top of the pine trees. And after a long day of hiking you will find basic spaghetti to be the best meal you have ever had. And if a storm should kick up in the middle of night, the sound of rain on the roof will lull you to sleep.
The refugios near Bariloche are, in our opinion, among the best in the world. All can be reached in less than a day from Bariloche and some, such as the Cerro Lopez, are as little as a two hour hike away from the trail head. All trails are also easily accessed, some even by local transportation, making them affordable for all budgets.
Also since the mountains in Patagonia are lower in elevation than most of the Andes, no acclimatization to altitude is required. Yet even at the lower elevation of the peaks, it is still possible to see glaciers.
Many of the refugios have staff (refugieros) during the summer. Some will provide hot meals and cold drinks or beer for a fee. Prices are fairly reasonable, especially if you consider that everything is some of these huts must be carried up manually, usually by backpack.
Below is a list of refugios near Bariloche. They are all operated by Club Andino Bariloche. Note that the refugios are all run by the mountaineering club, Club Andino Bariloche. They have an office located right in the center ( 20 de Febrero # 30 ), uphill from the YPF service station, where you can buy maps and get information about trail conditions.
They also tend to aggressively sell the services of guides there. On one hand, we see their point: most visitors to Bariloche come from Buenos Aires or other completely flat areas and have no experience in the mountains. But on the other hand, if you or anyone in your group has a decent amount of experience in the outdoors, you should be able to make it to the huts without a guide. The exception to this would be in the winter or spring, when snow may make it difficult near the end of the trek.
In no circumstance should you, once high in the mountains, try to hike between the huts alone. Those trails tend to be much less used than the trails to the huts, and in some cases are technically challenging. Ask the staff at the refugio before proceeding.
Mountain Huts near Bariloche
elevation above sea level: 1620 m
|Privately owned. Dining room, kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms (capacity: 100 people).Open from December to April. Partially accessible by dirt road.
|Italia or Laguna Negra
||On the lake Laguna Negra
elevation above sea level: 1650 m
|Capacity for 60 people. Dining room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Open from November 15 to April 15.
||On Cerro Catedral
to 1700 m
|Capacity 40 persons. Kitchen, dining room, bedrooms, bathrooms, hot water and other services.
Open all year round.
|San Martin / Jakob
elevation above sea level: 1600 m
|80 persons capacity. Kitchen, dining room and kiosk. Open from December to April.
||On Mount Tronador above Pampa Linda
||Located just to one side of a glacier. Spectacular views or the valley below. In our opinion this is the best refugio in the area.
Capacity 60 people. Kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms. Open from December to April.
||On the way to
|Capacity 40 people. Dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms with hot water, supplies and other services. Open all year. Accessible by road vehicles.
elevation above sea level: 1250 m
|Accessible by vehicles, this refugio offers cross country skiing in the winter and great hiking in the summer. Ask at your travel agent for "night in the refugio" packages.
Capacity 50 people overnight.Kitchen, dining room, heating, bathrooms with showers, hot water and other services. Open all year.