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Cerro Llao Llao: The Less-Crowded Alternative to Cerro Campanario

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Pristine nature and magnificent views — that's what the charming ski resort town of Bariloche, nestled cozily in the northern Patagonian Andes and Argentina's Lake District, is all about. While the trekking in this area is overshadowed by the more popular and crowded Cerro Campanario, the hidden gem is the Cerro Llao Llao hike.

For the highest peak in Bariloche's Parque Municipal Llao, Cerro Llao Llao is actually a relatively small mountain that makes for a relaxing and enjoyable day hike. What you may not be expecting from the ease of a hike like this is the amazing reward — breathtaking 360-degree summit views over Patagonia, Nahuel Huapi National Park, and the Nahuel Haupi Lake.

The cherry on top of Cerro Llao Llao is the ability to combine the hike with some other worthy attractions like glacier lakes with mountain-side beaches. Sounds pretty good for a day hike, doesn't it?

At a Glance

Highlights

  • Short, easy hike for nearly anyone
  • Ability to make the hike longer by stopping at different lakes and beaches
  • The stunning views of the alpine lakes and Andes Mountain range
  • Accessibility from Bariloche center

Lowlights

  • We honestly couldn't find one. This might be the perfect hike after all.

Hike Facts 

Hike difficulty: Easy. Suitable for children and adults who are in average physical condition.
Hike duration: 1 – 1 ½ hours one-way
Remoteness: Not Remote. The base of the hike has all amenities at offer. The trail itself however is pure, untouched nature with not many hikers around.
Accommodation type: Accommodations are not available within Parque Municipal Llao. No camping either. Plenty of options available in Bariloche.
Best season: Summer and fall (November to May) brings warm and sunny days, making it suitable for a short hike. Cerro Llao Llao can even be hiked in winter since it's such a short hike - as long as you're okay with a little snow!
Start/end locations: Ranger Station and Visitor Information Center is the last landmark before the start of the trailhead, just a 10-minute walk from the bus stop. You'll take the same trail back down and finish at the same spot.
Permits required:  None

Cerro Llao Llao Hike Trail: An Overview

The start of the trail is flat and leads through a dense forest. There's a sign marking the Cerro Llao Llao trail after you arrive at a small junction about 40 minutes into the hike. Here, the terrain changes to a gentle incline with the trail zig-zagging for the next 20 - 30 minutes until you reach the summit.

At the top, you'll find rocky outcrops perfect for posting up to enjoy your lunchbox amongst some of Argentina's most impressive views of Nahuel Haupi Lake against the mountainous backdrop.

Nahuel Huapi Lake
Cerro Llao Llao hike avails its hikers with one stunning location after another

On the way back down, take a left off the trail at the junction to reach Villa Tacul (marked with a sign). Here you'll be treated to the most gorgeous beach with crystal clear water on the shores of Nahuel Haupi Lake. Surrounded by mountains, trees, and big boulders, this is a serene spot to relax for an hour or two or take a swim before making the final descent.

Transport to and from

This is a very accessible hike and public transportation can easily be used. From the center of San Carlos de Bariloche (official name of the town, although it's often shorten to simply "Bariloche"), take the number 20 bus and get off at the last stop, Lago Llao Llao. Hotel Llao Llao should be in front of you. The bus ride is about 35-40 minutes.

From here you'll walk just 10 minutes up the main road until you come to the visitor center. Here you can take a map and get more information about the trail. Then, just continue straight until you see the trailhead signs for Cerro Llao Llao.

Do the same to return to town. The same bus can take you back to Bariloche from the drop off point. Easy!

Cerro Llao Llao map

Other nearby hikes/activities

  • Lake Moreno, situated at the bottom of the Cerro Llao Llao trail, boasts all sorts of wateractivities like stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and water skiing. There's also a small restaurant serving local favorites and craft beer. Stopping here after the hike is a perfect ending to the day.
  • Cerro Llao Llao hike can also be combined with Sendero de los Arrayanes trail. This foresttrek snakes around the shores of Lake Moreno with stops at Moreno Beach and Moreno viewpoint with Cerro Lopez in the background.
  • Just 9 kilometers prior to reaching Hotel Llao Llao is Cerro Campanario, another short hike with amazing views. The hike is a quick 30-40 minutes and quite steep. However, the reward at the top is worth it with panoramas over Lake Nahuel Huapi, Lake Moreno, Llao Llao peninsula, framed by the surrounding mountains. Bonus: a chairlift will escort you to the top if you don't want to climb!

In an area that is brimming with scenic hikes and abundance of natural beauty, Cerro Llao Llao may not offer the best views, but it is a peaceful getaway that should fit anyone wanting to escape the crowd. The fact that there are so many wonderful stop-overs and activities that can be included in the hike means you can extend it as per your liking. If you ever wondered about a hike being so good, well now you know the answer!

*Note: Prices are as of April 2018.

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