Trekking in Caviahue

Before setting out for a hike, we recommend that you follow these instructions:

1. Get information about the weather the day before the hike

2. Get a map of the area you are planning to cover in your hike and study it. Don’t forget to take the map with you

3. Let your acquaintances know about the activity you are about to set out for, and the estimated time of return. It is also advisable to inform the tourist information office and people from the place where you are staying.

4. Always take food, beverages and warm clothes with you (sweaters, insulating jackets and/or windbreakers). Warm clothes should be taken even if the temperatures are likely to be warm. In the mountains, the weather may change unexpectedly.

5. Use shoes that are suitable for this type of activity

6. Always begin the hike early in the morning

7. Bring litter back, and drop it in the proper place

8. When estimating the total duration of your trip, take into account the length of time it will take both ways. Always begin your return having in mind to come back to the starting point before the sunset

9. Once you are back, inform acquaintances, people from the place where you are staying and the tourist information office about your return

Caviahue Lake - Photo: Leo Becari

Escondida Lagoon

There is a path leading westwards that goes up the hill through terraced basalt walls until it reaches the Hidden Lagoon. From this path, which is done on foot, you can have the sight of the valleys of Dulce stream (to the right), of the Agrio river (to the left) and of Caviahue.

We recommend that you follow this way: In Caviahue, take 8 de Abril St. until it meets Volcán Copahue St., going past ISSN Hotel on the way. Then turn left for about 150m, where you will see an important cabin complex. Right behind this complex, at the foothill of the mountain you will find the path, with a sign and a yellow arrow that shows the way to go.

Escondida Lagoon - Photo: Osvaldo Gagliardi

Agrio River Cascades

From Caviahue, go along PR 26 for about 500m (to the right), cross a bridge over Agrio river and take a dirt road that borders the cascades: Del Basalto (3m), Cabellera de la Virgen (20m), De la Culebra (4m)and Del Gigante. The latter is characterized not only for having two waterfalls straddling a basalt block that resembles a face in profile, but also for having a wonderful sight of Copahue volcano.

Del Basalto Cascade - Photo:

Path to Copahue International border Landmark

This footpath leads to the landmark at Copahue pass, which sets the territorial division between Argentina and Chile. Along the way, you can get astounding views of Copahue, Lagunas Las Mellizas (The Twin Lagoons) and Copahue volcano.

Going out of Copahue, go to the end of Arturo Fernández Street. From there on, the trip is taken on foot or horseback. Going along the path for approximately 500m, great views of Copahue are found to the east. A bit farther, about 1km, you can appreciate the Lagunas Las Mellizas and the northern slope of Copahue volcano. From there, you begin the way down to the valley of Trapa-Trapa. Going 1.2 km to the northwest, after going past an area of damp green grass, you get to the Landmark Copahue Pass. (This border-crossing point is closed)

Copahue International border Landmark - Photo: Alejandra Melideo

Hualcupén Lagoon

The stillness of its waters and its location in a valley with nearby lenga and pehuén forests, provide a frame of exquisite scenic beauty. There is a warm volcanic sand beach on the eastern coast, whereas on the western area there is a gorgeous snowmelt waterfall. Hualcupén and Coliqueo lagoons are among the favourites in Caviahue, especially for the practice of sporting activities like fishing and canoeing.

It lies to the southeast of Caviahue, on lands belonging to the indigenous communities Millaín Currical and Guaiquillán; that is why some houses can be seen on the road, where families live during the summer season. From Caviahue, take PR 26 towards the neighboring Loncopue. After going along this paved road for approximately 5 km, you will see a sign on the right, showing the access to the lagoon. Turn right and go through the gate. There are 8 km to the lagoon.

Hualcupén Lagoon - Photo: Alejandra Melideo

Copahue volcano crater and lagoon

The trip lasts a whole day. Visitors reach the foot of the volcano by car or truck and begin hiking up its slope, leading to the still active crater (2750 m.a.s.l.). Stunning views are present all the way up, not only of Caviahue Lake, but also of surrounding lagoons. From the top, the view of the Cordillera de los Andes is magnificent, with Lanin, Domuyo and Antuco volcanoes standing out.

Once in the crater, it is difficult not be impressed by its steep walled depression and its glacier of everlasting snow. Smoke, vapor and a strong smell of sulfur come from deep down the vent. The crater resulted from post-glacial volcanic activity, and contains a lagoon which measures from 2 to 3 hectares and whose water is supplied by rains and snowmelt run-off. Gas emissions heat the lagoon’s waters to temperatures as high as 20 to 40 degrees, and charge them with mineral substances that result in the water’s high level of acidity. The lagoon drains to the east and gives origin to Agrio River.

Copahue Volcano Crater- Photo: Leo Becari

Other trails

The following trips are organized by local travel agencies: hiking to the top of Pirámide hill, crossing the Andes (carrying tents and food), going past Paso Pucón Mahuida and Paso Copahue

Lengas Trees close to Hualcupén Lagoon - Photo: Gerardo Franchi

What to see in Northern Neuquén