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Paso León a Cochamó

trek de 5 días de los Andes argentinos a la costa chilena

categorización:      ?
largo:   5 días
lo mejor:   La buena hospitalidad de la gente de Paso León, el largo y lindo Lago Vidal aislado en la cordillera andina y La Junta del Valle Cochamó rodeado de paredes de granito enormes, cascadas y caminatas hermosas y exigentes.


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El trek comienza en los Andes argentinos y termina en la costa chilena. Pasa por campos, lagos, arcos de piedra, bosques de alerces, cascadas y casi al final el famoso valle cortado por glaciares, Valle Cochamó.

paso por paso



Bariloche a Paso León


Éste trek es mejor hecho y más fácil de Argentina hacia Chile, y más subida en la otra dirección. Abajo encuentras la descripción de Bariloche a Cochamó.

De Bariloche, tienes dos opciones para llegar a Paso León donde encuentra el comienzo del sendero. Son los siguientes:

1. Tomar un bus del terminal en Bariloche a Villegas, el cruce. Allí hacer dedo o buscar el servicio de un auto privado para llevarte a Paso León.
2. O pagar uno de los transfer que lleva turistas a hacer rafting en el Manso. En Bariloche buscar las companias de rafting y consultar con ellos.

The Argentina Aduana, where you can get your exit stamp, is only meters from the international border where you'll start the trek. Walk west along the main dirt road past an airstrip and down and across the hanging bridge (~10 min.). Continue on the road heading down along the north side of Manso River to the Carabineros (~20 min.). You can get your entry stop here and possibly radio ahead to Lago Vidal if you'll need to let a specific house know of your arrival.

In case you get to this point late, you can camp or ask about a house you can sleep at. Avoid the hotel since it caters only to pre packaged, exclusively rich clients.

From here you have two options: (1)Continue south along the Manso River or (2)vere right and up the Leon River Valley. Below is description of both.

1. Carabineros to Torrentoso (day 1, 4.5 hours)

From the Caribineros, follow the main well traveled trail bordering the Manso River until Traindor, four hours. There you can camp or ask around for sleeping arrangements.

2. Carabineros to casa de Facundo Toledo (40 min.)

Walk up the Leon River Valley. The main trail on the south side of the valley will take you to Facundo's house. Ask the many different dwelling to help you find it. You can camp there or even consult Facundo about getting a bed. From his house starts the hike up the pass to Lago Bravo.



to Lago Vidal Gomaz's north end


Option 1: Torrentoso to North side of Vidal Gomaz (6 hours or 3 hours with boat ride)

Turn right before the bridge that crosses the Torrentoso River. There you'll also find the house of Blanca Mendez. Continue on the right (east) side of the Torrentoso River until getting to another bridge that has a Virgen and candles on the right side of trail (about 40 min.). Cross. Continue on the trail to the right that continues up on the left side of the river and to the long Vidal Gomaz Lake. You can cross the length of the lake via boat with Pancho Soto or his son Maximo Soto. The zodiac fits five or six people and costs $25,0000 pesos (~US$50) per trip. They can drop you off at anywhere on the other side. Best at Carloncho's for camping or a room to sleep.

Option 2: Facundo's house to northern end of Vidal Gomaz (5 to 6 hours)

From Facundo's house the trail begins climbing the western side of the valley. You can ask Facundo on details about the trail. For the next 40 minutes, some other trails, vere off the main. Always stay on the most eroded, traveled trail. After 15 minutes from Facundo's, you'll arrive to a small pampa. After you may encounter a fork with two main trails. Stay right. After 15 minutes from the last pampa, you'll arrive to another bigger pampa. Don't take any trails heading back down here. Continue upwards and from here the trail is mucho more obvious.

Camping and bedding at the northern end of Vidal Gomaz (5 to 6 hours)

Avoid staying or camping at the house at the extreme north end, Tito Bahamonde. Besides being very exposed to winds, its also overly expensive and has had many visitors complain about its management. It's best to walk an extra 20 minutes to Carloncho's home and camping. His family can also offer fresh baked bread and meals.



Vidal to El Arco (7 hours)


This is the most difficult day of the trek. The trail heads directly north from the lake into the pampas before turning up and west to climb the pass. After three to four hours up, you'll reach a small lake, the first of three. The trail then continues to the sandy beach of the second lake, the biggest of the three and properly named Lago Grande. It's also possible to camp here, but makes for cold, windy nights during storms. The third is a small 50-meter long lake just a bit farther.

As you hike down the other side you'll cross a small stream several times before getting to the Arco shelter on your right. The shelter is open to all and depends on everyone to take care of it. Please help carry out any left behind garbage you can and leave firewood behind for the next visitors.



Arco to La Junta and Refugio Cochamó (5 hours)


From Arco's shelter, cross the Arco River 5 minutes. Check out the granite arch. Behind is pure Alerce forest. Faint trails head up to the right side of the arch to the alerces. After crossing, the trail heads uphill 15 minutes, with mud and rock. Continue along a trail that climbs up and down rolling forested hills. After two and a half hours you'll cross the Valverde via a trunk bridge. About an hour later you'll get to the pampas of the Traidor River. This river needs to be waded. If it's raining heavy and the river is too swollen to cross, there's a shelter there to wait out the rain. You'll again climb some rocky yet forested terrain and head into a narrow part of the valley just before La Junta.

La Junta River is just before getting to the Camping La Junta and Refugio Cochamó. If you can't cross it due to heavy rain, there's a bridge about 15 minutes steep hike up river: Follow the trail up and keep your eyes open for the crossing trail that leads to the hanging bridge.

Consider staying a few days in this area to enjoy its majestic surrounding, great day hikes, rock climbing, waterslides and caves. It is for many the best part of your trek. You can also get pizzas, meals, drinks, information and hang out with climbers and other hikers at the Refugio Cochamó.



La Junta to Cochamó town (4.5 hours)


At this point, if you're tired and want to minimize your walk you can try to arrange a car to pick you up at the trailhead, or in your case, trail's end. Otherwise you'll have to walk six kilometers to the bridge where the bus passes going to Puerto Varas, Puerto Montt and Puelo. You can get the bus times at the refugio.

Some options for making a nice round trip:

  • Return to Bariloche via the scenic boat crossing. It's very expensive but has amazing views of the mountains as you cross numerous lakes in route to Barilcohe. If you have already reserved your trip, you can catch the bus from the bridge and get off at Ensenada where the buses pass daily for the lakes crossing.
  • Return via the trail and lakes crossing to Lago Puelo, Argentina. This hike and boat rides is also a very popular. You can save money by hiking around some of the lakes instead of taking the boats. To get there, catch the bus to Puelo from the bridge of the Cochamo River near the trail's end. At Lago Tau Tau, cross and toward Segundo Corral where the trek begins. There are many settlements to get information along the way.
  • Catch a bus from Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas.
  • Head south through Parque Pumalin, Chaiten and Futeleful.

  • Ver el pronóstico. It's very important not to start this hike when heavy rains move in. There are rivers difficult to cross and sections of the trail have limited shelters to escape the rain.
  • Saco de dormir y colchon. Existe varios casas y techos donde puedes dormir durante cada noche de tu viaje si programas bien. Algunas son gratis y algunas cobra. Es recomendado llevar una carpa piensas ir sin pagar o dormir en otros lados. El Arco es el único que es gratuito y qu is the only one that is only a shelter, it's free and doesn't provide bedding, so you'll need your own. You can radio ahead from the Chilean police to let a family know you'll need a place to sleep for Lago Vidal Gomaz. Also you can make reservations in Refugio Cochamó at
  • Botas. Unless the weather has been particularly dry you'll need hiking boots with gaters to tread through muddy parts of the trail.
  • Food. You'll need to plan on preparing your own meals for some nights of the trip. Bring plenty of snack food. As for water, most just drink from smaller streams without any problems.
  • Linterna. Y baterias extras.
  • Plata. Good to have extra cash to buy food and even get a sleep in a home to dry out from bad weather.
  • Map. Though not essential for this hike, a map can help those prone to get lost. You can buy one in Bariloche, Puerto Varas or at the Refugio Cochamó in Cochamó Valley.
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