One of El Bolsón’s virtues is its convenience to trailheads for hiking and secondary roads for mountain biking. Most are just far enough away, though, to require an early start for those without their own vehicle; consider hiring a remise to the trailheads.
Spanish-speaking hikers should look for Gabriel Bevacqua’s inexpensive local hiking guide Montañas de la Comarca, for sale in Bolsón’s tourist office. Its orientation map is adequate for initial planning.
Several travel agencies arrange excursions such as boating on Lago Puelo, hiking and climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, rafting on the Río Azul and the more distant Río Manso, and parasailing. Where logistics are complex, as in reaching some trailheads, these can be a good option.
Both east and west of town, there are backcountry refugios where hikers can either camp or rent a bunk or floor space as well as cook or purchase meals. These are fairly basic, but inexpensive and comfortable enough, and the refugieros who run them are building a series of connector trails to supplement the access points and create a hikers circuit. Some of these are already operating.
Two blocks north of Plaza Pagano, westbound Azcuénaga crosses the Quemquemtreu and continues six kilometers to a footpath overlooking its southerly confluence with the Río Azul and Lago Puelo in the distance; the short but precipitous northbound trail leads to the natural metamorphic silhouette colloquially known as the Cabeza del Indio (Indian’s Head). There’s now a token admission charge; the local Mapuche sometimes hold ceremonies here.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition