Parque Nacional Los Alerces Things to Do
Hiking around Cerro Alto El Dedal
Cerro Alto El Dedal, overlooking Lago Futalaufquen, is one of the most impressive peaks in the park, and a well marked circular trail leads from Futalaufquen up the mountain. We attempted the climb in mid November, which, unfortunately, was too early in the season to make it to the top.
The summit is at 1916 metres altitude, but during our hike the snow appeared from about 1400 metres, and we couldn't progress beyond the tree line as it was over a metre thick in many places and impossible to cross.
Nevertheless, we saw some excellent scenery along the way. The Guardaparques office in Futalaufquen has information on the route, and you should leave your details here before attempting the hike. At first the path to Dedal is the same as that to Cascada Arroyo, though you turn off for Dedal after about 30 minutes at a signed path. For the next hour and a half you climb steeply through the forest, and viewpoints are few, but once you clear the treeline, the views become much better. Just after catching our first glimpse of the lake and Cerro Situacion to the south we encountered the heavy snow and had to turn around.
Mirador Lago Futalaufquen
Above the pinturas rupestres (cave paintings) is a small hill from where there are good views of Lago Futalaufquen and the surrounding region. Follow the path past the cave paintings which leads to the mirador after a short climb.
Close to the tiny village of Futulaufquen, which is located at the south-western end of Lago Futalaufquen, there are ancient cave paintings left by early hunter-gatherers in this area. The helpful staff in the guardaparques office in Futalaufquen can tell you the exact location, though it's signposted (as pinturas rupestres) and easy to find, opposite the lake, about 1km before you reach Futalaufquen along Ruta 71.
Parque Nacional Los Alerces Hotels
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Parque Nacional Los Alerces Transportation
Alerces National Park is remote in comparison to other parks in the Lake District, and public transport options, even in high season, are limited. There is only one road running through the park, the mostly ripio Ruta 71, meaning that much of the park is inaccessible or at least very hard to reach.
Getting here by car is definitely the best option. We rented a car from Iglu Rent A Car in El Bolson, for 120 pesos a day, and drive down here from El Bolson, and stayed the night near Lago Futalaufquen. Having a car makes it much easier to see the various sites along Ruta 71. Allow plenty of time for travelling along Ruta 71, as it's ripio almost everywhere and you need to drive slowly and carefully.
Without a car, you won't see so many sites, but you could get to Futalaufquen by bus from Esquel, and spent your day hiking and exploring around Lago Futalaufquen.