We spent 2 nights in El Bolsen. Jon and Vanessa stayed with a fabulous Warm Showers host ‘Mari’, who made us both feel extremely welcome (unfortunately we can’t say the same for her pet parrot ‘Lora’ who insisted in pecking our feet and definitely rules the roost in the household). Mari is herself traveling to Europe shortly to embark on her own cycling adventure and was keen to learn about our trip.
She gave us some excellent money saving advice on visiting the nearby Parque National Lago Puelo with our bikes.
She also recommended the Sendero Cajon del Azul hike and explained that the 27km cycle to and from it was inadvisable…we are glad she did as the road was terrible.
From El Bolsen you can take a local bus (this runs daily at 11am in Jan & Feb) to nearby Warton, where the hike begins. Unfortunately for us it was March and the bus was now supposed to leave at midday. By 12.30 we gave up waiting and hailed a cab, which took the 4 of us to Warton in just under 30 minutes. This meant a 1pm start for a hike meant to take 4hrs 30min each way, with us needing to get back for 7.30pm to catch the bus back to El Bolsen (provided it showed up).
We set off at a smart pace through beautiful wooded valleys. To our suprise the walk started with a descent and then rose to follow the river. We passed Refugio Natacion, Refegio La Playita (where we stopped for lunch whilst kids played in the Rio Rayado),
Refegio Latrongonada and finally stopped at Refugio Gajon del Azul,
where the owner was extremely welcoming and explained how best to view the canyon and a shortcut back which saved us 20 minutes. We managed to use the 20 minutes we saved for a quick dip on the way back to Warton and got there in time for the bus which did arrive (only 20minutes late).
The hike involved spectacular scenery, fast flowing waterfalls and some not too difficult climbs.
On reflection we would have stayed in or camped at one of the refugios overnight as they looked very welcoming. There is no charge to do any of the El Bolsen hikes, although they do ask that you sign in and out for safety purposes. We strongly recommend that you give one a try if you are in the area.