The 4-day hike in Cerro Castillo National Reserve

After our 2-day hike to Mont Tronador we really wanted to more multiday hiking. We really wanted to do the “circuit trail” in the National Park Torres del Paine, but it was impossible to make reservations for the campgrounds, which is mandatory before getting a permit to enter the trail. We tried to make reservations 3-4 months in advance, but it was to late. On our map we had marked hiking in Cerro Castillo National Reserve, named after the peak of Cerro Castillo (2,675 meters). I looked for trails in the Cerro Castillo National Reserve and found a 4-day hike. Also the description of the hike, said that the hike was a quieter alternative to hiking in Torres del Paine.Cerro Castillo is a National Reserve, which covers 180,000 hectares. The 4-day hike offers views of hanging glaciers, freezing rivers, snow covered passes and amazing crystal blue lakes.

Laguna Cerro Castillo with Mont Cerro Castillo in the background

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I have a Garmin Fenix 3 watch, that I use for recording our hikes. If you want to do this hike – you can find more information and download the GPS trail and typographic map at the end of this post.

 Day 1: 26 km ascent 900 meters and descent 500 meters

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We stayed at a Hostel and Campground in Villa Cerro Castillo, where we met a German couple (backpackers). We made an agreement, that they would drop us of at the trailhead “Las Horquetas”, and drive Lance back to the Hostel and Campground in Villa Cerro Castillo. So we had an early start at 9 am. The distance from the Hostel and Campground was 29 km, so why not just hitchhike? The day before we had met so many hitchhikers in Villa Cerro Castillo, who have been waiting for more than 5 hours without getting a ride, so we just didn’t want to get stuck on the first day without getting to the trailhead.

A bridge and a man made bridge

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But then there was no bridges, and we had to go across barefooted, in the freezing water

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Entering Cerro Castillo National Reserve. The entry fee is 5,000 pesos when you enter from this side of the trail, and they even gave us a map for the trail (included in the price). In Villa Cerro Castillo there is a PRIVATE entrance, where you pay 10,000 pesos to walk across private land to reach the “Laguna Cerro Castillo” (day hike).

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Our plan was to hike from “Las Horqutas” to “Segundo Camping”, but when we got to the campground at 3 pm, we were getting eaten by horse flies. We decided to continue to escape from the horse flies.

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We got out of the forest, and the trail started to climb up into the mountains

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Soon we were where hiking across a snow covered pass – no horse flies anymore wlEmoticon-thumbsup_3 The 4-day hike in Cerro Castillo National Reserve

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Following the trail…

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Getting up takes a lot more effort, than skiing down in our hiking boots

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Now our challenge was to find a level spot for the tent without snow. We can set up the tent on the snow, but it makes it more difficult to keep warm during the night. After the descent from the pass, we were met by the sight of a hanging glacier accompanied by 10-20 smaller waterfalls.

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We found a level spot, and set up the tent – what an amazing place. We decided to camp between the two campgrounds “Segundo” and “El Bosque”, because we were too tired to walk any further.

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Day 2: 17 km ascent 850 meters and descent 1100 meters

We took it really slow the next morning and enjoyed the coffee while the sun was still rising.

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Ready to continue after a look at the map

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Ready to see more glaciers

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We descended into the forest

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Today the trail was going up and down, but finally we got to Laguna Cerro Castillo

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Laguna Cerro Castillo, the blue colored was amazing and water is clean enough to drink

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Climbing to the next viewpoint, that overlooks Villa Cerro Castillo

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Panoramic view of Villa Cerro Castillo – this is a clear day

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After a very steep descent to we made it to the campground “Los Porteadores”

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Day 3: 10 km ascent 600 meters and descent 300 meters

Just a really short day from “Los Porteadores” to “Camping Neozelandés”. The “Los Porteadores” campground was packed, and instead of pushing ourselves and complete the hike in 3 days (we had food for 4 days anyway) we decided to pack everything, and camp at “Neozelandés” instead of two nights at “Los Porteadores”.

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From there I hiked to “Laguna Duff”. Esben’s knee was hurting, so he was relaxing in the tent

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Laguna Duff with a few very small pieces of floating ice

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Day 4: 15 km ascent 150 meters and descent 1000 meters

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Nothing special on the way back, so we walk out of Cerro Castillo National Reserve, and had to crawl under a fence to get to the road that lead back to town. It was an amazing hike, there was other people on the trail, but we still felt alone most of the time. We highly recommend the hike wlEmoticon-redheart The 4-day hike in Cerro Castillo National Reserve.

Are you ready for this hike? Get the map and GPS track for the here: https://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=uiatrbflfkuetqpz

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Comments

  1. Wow that’s great! We are looking for hikes where we can wild camp, as we’ve seen that it is prohibited in many national parks in Patagonia. Any other such hikes that you are aware of? We’re not big fans of the whole public (or private) campsite concept! Thanks!

    • Hey Emilie. Great to hear from you 🙂
      We just did an epic 15 days multi day hike here in Bolivia in Cordrillera Blanca. Here you can wild camp everywhere (we are working n our pictures, so we can write a guide how to do the hike unsupported). But back to your question.
      A lot of National Parks in Patagonia have different rules, and in most of them you have to camp in the campgrounds.

      So far we have done 3 multiday hikes in Patagonia, you can find them here: http://www.lessismore.one/hiking-trips/
      They were al amazing, but try to plan, so you have good weather because if there are too many clouds, you can’t see all the great views. In Cerro Castillo they advise you to use the camping areas (they are all free of charge), but there are emergency camp spots on the way, that you can use (we used ne on the second day, and they are not marked).
      The Huemul trail in El Chalten have capming areas, but t is because there are not that many other opportunities (lack of flat areas). The campgrounds are very primitive, just a flat area no pit toilet etc. (don’t leave any garbage, not even your toilet paper, I just say this beacuse a lot of other hikers leave their used toiletpaper and it is a huge problem and not a pretty sight).
      The Sierra Valdivieso was amazing. You just wild camp all the way whereever you want.
      We also dd a two day hike to Mont Tronador in Nahuel Huapi National Park, whch has a lot of other multday hikes. I don’t think you have to camp at the refugios, but again, the hikes are in the mountains, and sometimes it can be hard to find a flat spot.
      We just made a new map on our website, where all our hikes (also one day), will be marked with a hiking symbol, you can click on the symbol, to read more about the hikes, so it is easier to find between all the other posts.
      After saying this we will recommend http://www.ioverlander.com (you can download an app for your phone). We don’t know if you already know the app, but t is perfect for finding wild camping in South America, but especially in Patagonia.

      I hope, that you can use this…
      There is also the Quilotoa Loop in Ecuador (we didn’t hike it), but it looks amazing
      I used this site for finding good hiking: https://besthike.com/s-america/ and http://www.hikinglife.com

      Let me know what you find out… where are you from?

      Best regards Esben and Camilla

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