LUGARES MAGAZINE Nro. 93
5 TREKS TO LODGES
The Lopez Lodge, at 1,600 m is the best known and most accessible one. A roadway taking you to its doorway starts 2 km out of Colonia Suiza. Those who prefer getting there the hard way face a fairly easy though steep climb. An austerely comfortable three-floor building raised by Carlos Sonfag at exactly the same site of the previous lodge, swept away by a mudslide in 1952. Stay the night and rise before the sun, which will appear floating magically over mist-covered Nahuel Huapi.
Negra Lagoon (Black Lagoon)
The lodge here is called Italia Lodge, at 1,650 m. To get there one has to skirt the Goye stream starting from Colonia Suiza, and go through a valley containing a forest of venerable coihues between the Bella Vista Range and the De las Cabras Ridge on Mt Lopez, up to the Lower and Upper Waterfalls. The Italia Lodge is an ideal place to spend the night, so that you can tackle the climb up Mt Negro the following morning, one which presents no special difficulties if you take the regular route.
The Meiling Lodge, at 2,000 m is on this 3,554 meter tall undisputed giant of the Park. Its glacier-festooned summit shakes every time huge hunks of ice break off and tumble down its precipitous sides. Located higher than any other mountain lodge, and sitting on a rock shelf between the two impressive Castaño Overa and Alerce glaciers, the Meiling Lodge overlooks Pampa Linda and Paso de las Nubes, guarded by three peaks whose names are Argentino, Internacional and Chileno. If Catedral is famous as a training area for the best freestyle mountain climbing, Tronador may be considered the "university" for climbing on ice. The trek to the lodge is long and demanding, but free from difficulties; it starts in Pampa Linda, south of Bariloche. Noble coihues and fern and cane thickets are signs of the Valdivian forest that penetrates from Chile.
Here we have the San Martin Lodge, at 1,600 m. Six km before getting to Colonia Suiza, along the gravel track, an old dairy establishment signals the start of the trekking trail, that follows the Casa de Piedra stream (whose waters descend towards Lake Moreno). In the shade of Mt Tres Reyes, the suspension bridge over the river adds a touch of adrenalin to a really relaxing walk through woods and cane thickets. On the last stretch there is a steep climb, the last all-out effort required to reach a natural solarium where one can relax on huge smooth rocks at the edge of the lake. Built skillfully by carpenters and lodge specialists, the San Martin Lodge has a kitchen, dining room, beds and bathrooms. Towards the end of winter, its fairly easy access turns it into the ideal place one can trek to in order to go walking or skating on the frozen lake.
The lodge in this place is called Frey Lodge, at 1,700 m. At the foot of the pink and yellow granite "needles" of Catedral, the Frey Lodge calls together every summer those who intend to tackle the sheerest and most dizzying rock walls in the Park. A prime example of mountain stonemasonry, this lodge was named after the first Park Superintendent and co-founder of the Andean Club, Dr. Emilio Frey. The track leading to the lodge continues away from the challenging towers reflected in Toncek Lagoon, up the mountainside to the summit edge, where one can look over to Lake Schmol and its floating icebergs.