The Cerro Guanaco hike of Tierra del Fuego is considered one of, if not the top trekking trail in the National Park. This 14 kilometer out and back hike will take you high above sea level, as you get to take in one of the best views you can ask for.
Although it is one of the most beautiful hikes to take part of in the park, it is also one of the most difficult. But at the end of the day, it sure will be worth the effort as you enjoy the jaw dropping panoramic views of Patagonia.
This guide will walk through all you need to know about hiking the Cerro Guanaco trail and how to make it to the summit for yourself.
1) Cerro Guanaco Trail Details
Let’s start off with some basic details about the Cerro Guanaco hike so you have a better understanding of what it entails:
Trail Name: Cerro Guanaco
Starting & Ending Point: Alakush Visitor Center
Trail Length: 14 km / 8.7 miles
Elevation Gain: +1,000 meters / +3,280 feet
Duration: ~5-6 Hours
The Cerro Guanaco is an out and back trail starting and ending at the Alakush Visitor Center. Since this is a mountain trail, there will be a fair share of elevation gain over the duration of it.
Once you reach the summit, you will then turn back around and follow the same path back to the visitor’s center. From there you can either head back to Ushuaia or continue on exploring some other trails in Tierra del Fuego National Park.
» Depending on time of year, there is also a deadline time for starting the hike. When I was there in January, that time was at 12PM.
» You are supposed to sign in/out at the front desk of the visitor center when taking part of this hike for safety reasons.
2) How to Get to Tierra del Fuego National Park
Before you actually take part of the Cerro Guanaco trail, you first need to make your way to the National Park. Thankfully, it is very easy to make your way back and forth from Ushuaia, which is the closest town.
Right in the town center you will find a shuttle terminal. Here, each day, several different companies provide shuttle busses back and forth from Ushuaia to Tierra del Fuego National Park.
At the shuttle terminal, you will find a small hut, where you can purchase tickets. They will be super helpful with explaining the stops & timing for departures. Since there are different shuttle companies operating here, each company will be on a slightly different schedule (but all tickets can be purchased from that one ticket booth).
The shuttles make a couple different stops within the National Park. Since you will be taking part of the Cerro Guanaco climb, be sure to get off at the Alakush Visitor Center (where the hike begins – photo below).
The round-trip cost is just ~$8 USD with constant departures throughout the morning. At the time I was there, the first departure was 9:00AM, but you can check with your hotel or the shuttle booking hut the day prior to be sure on timing. Show up just 30-60 minutes before departure to purchase your tickets and be on your way.
Note: the shuttles will stop at the entrance of the National Park for everyone to purchase their entrance tickets. Single day tickets cost ~$18 USD, with a discount for second day if you decide to head into the park multiple times.
3) Where to Stay in Ushuaia
Ushuaia is essentially the only place you are going to want to base yourself in as you explore Tierra del Fuego and the surrounding areas. Below are just a few of my top recommendations when it comes to where to stay in the city.
These are all highly reviewed and recommended options so you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Just note that during the high season (December- February), accommodation can get booked up. So, once you know your dates, you should book your hotels.
→ Los Acebos Ushuaia Hotel (outside of town center)
4) What to Bring on the Hike
Hiking in Patagonia will require the right hiking gear for the trails. The weather can consistently change and so can the terrain. You will want to prepare yourself for all situations, so I would recommend you take a look at the day hike packing list I put together for the trail.
There are certain parts of the trail that can get very soggy and muddy, so having appropriate footwear and socks is a must (check out the photo below).
In addition to the packing list, you must purchase travel insurance before you head off on your trip. I cannot recommend travel insurance enough, especially when we are talking about hiking. You never know what can go wrong on the trail, and having a travel insurance policy will take all that worry away.
I have been using World Nomads for quite some time now, and I would recommend you taking a look at their very vast offerings that can cover you for your trip. You can check out the latest World Nomads Travel Insurance packages for your trip here.
5) Cerro Guanaco Trail Map & Elevation Gain Profile
Below you can find the map of the hiking trail from the visitor center to the Cerro Guanaco summit. The trail starts out following the lake on an easy path before heading up into the forest.
Once in the forest it is a constant uphill for a couple of miles. The forest then begins to thin out and soon enough the views will start to come into play. But from there it is a long hard hike along the mountain up to the summit.
To get a better sense of the elevation gain along the way, check out the elevation gain profile below. Besides for the first small bit of the trail, the remainder of the hike is going to be a constant uphill (and then downhill on the way back).
6) Cerro Guanaco Hike
After taking the hour drive from Ushuaia to the Alakush Visitor Center (including time to buy entrance tickets), it is time to take on Cerro Guanaco.
Once you are signed in, begin to follow the markers along the lake up to Cerro Guanaco. The first portion of the trail is relatively flat as you walk along the lake and take in some beautiful views of Lago Roca with the surrounding peaks reflecting off the water.
As you continue along the trail, you will continue to have some nice views of the lake before the trail comes to an intersection. To the right will be the Cerro Guanaco trail and to the left is a trail called Hito XXIV.
Here is also where you will see a sign mentioning the hiking duration is 4 hours to the summit (I think everyone can agree here that this is overestimated). I would imagine the entire hike takes between 5-6 hours.
The trail is easy to follow and will have arrows pointing you in the right direction further up into the forest. You will find a packed dirt trail along with tree roots making up the majority of the terrain here. This will be a slow and uphill trek up through the forest, but soon enough things will start to get better.
After some time of trekking up, you will get to a point where you will have an opening. Here is where the views really start coming into play. You will see Tierra del Fuego National Park down below and the rest of the surrounding mountains.
The trail then continues a bit longer through the forest before exiting the tree line. After leaving behind the trees is where the terrain can get a bit unknown.
You will follow the river for a bit, before making your way across a bog. Depending on recent rain, this is where the terrain can get very muddy and soggy. Try to watch your step as you go along, as your shoes can really sink into the ground here.
Behind the bog though, you will see the beginning of the trail that hugs the mountainside, and makes its way all across to the summit.
While the trail is obvious here, it can also get slippery at times given the loose rocks and the steepness of the terrain. The trail in front of you will seem never ending and you will come across a couple false summit areas too. Just take it slow and continue to enjoy the views as you get higher and higher.
Be sure to take some breaks from time to time to just sit back and enjoy the surrounding landscapes. The higher you go, the better it is going to get.
Slowly but surely though, you will continue to gain elevation and finish off strong as you reach the end of the trail and the summit to Cerro Guanaco.
Enjoy it from up top as you get some 360 views of the surrounding landscapes. Mountains, lakes, glaciers, and more make up the panorama from the summit.
Once you have had enough time up on the summit, it is the same way back down to the visitor’s center. Be sure to watch your step carefully as you make your way down, especially until you reach the tree line.
That about does it for the climb up Cerro Guanaco. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to add them in below. Also don’t forget to check out the other Patagonia itineraries and guides up on the site.
Have fun out there and safe travels!