We decided to take a day in Villa Cerro Castillo to enjoy a day hike in the Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo. There are several hikes to be had ranging from 1 to 4 days or more. The cost of entry into the national park is $5000 peso (approx. $10 Aus).
The entrance to the park can be found directly opposite the town itself, via a 1km dirt road…although we managed to mess that up by walking 1km up the main road out of town before figuring it out. Anyway, having had a 30 minute warm up walk, the 4 of us set off up the recommended mirador trek towards the glaciated lake and hopefully mountain view backdrop, depending on weather conditions. The walk is advertised as taking 4 hours up and 3 back, and climbs a little over 1000m, so is quite steep in sections. With only small day bags it took us a little under 5 hours including a good lunch stop.
We crossed our fingers as we climbed, as the cloud cover was low, but advice from a local guide we passed on the way up suggested the cloud would fluctuate so we should continue and hope for good views at the top.We climbed steadily, at one stage we were entirely enveloped by mist.. .. but when we reached the Mirador it did not disappoint and had cleared sufficiently well to see the lake beow, the glaciers opposite and catch the occassional misty view of the moutain.
On the ridge the previously benign wind picked up and we all put an extra layer or two on (definitely no bathing this time), took some photos and retreated back downhill sufficiently far enough to each lunch in a beautiful secluded spot overlooking Villa Cerro Castillo and the majestic lakes in the background.
All up this is definitely a recommended hike with rewarding views, subject to weather.