Catedral Alta Patagonia (aka Cerro Catedral )
Think of Catedral Alta as Argentina’s equivalent to Lake Tahoe, California—only it’s way better. There are mountains and lakes as far as the eye can see. It’s Heavenly with a double dose of culture, atmosphere, and scenic beauty. Sorry, no casinos here.
The access to outdoor recreation in this region will blow you away. Catedral Alta is the biggest single ski resort in South America. Nestled in the Nahuel Huapí National Park, the resort sits high above Lake Nahuel Huapí in Argentina’s Lake District. It’s one of the few village style resorts you’ll find in South America (think Whistler). That means—beyond world-class skiing—you’ll also find a wide variety of accommodations, restaurants, bars, and shops right at the base of the mountain. They even have a mall!
If a ski village really isn’t your thing and you’re looking for more cosmopolitan surroundings, you are in luck. The beautiful lakeside city of Bariloche is less than 30 minutes away. Bariloche is an outstanding alternative basecamp for any number of adventures. In Bariloche, you will find a downtown shopping district with picturesque alpine views, cafes, boutiques, and amazing chocolate shops. The small city of Bariloche is not just a ski destination. It offers year-round access to Nahuel Huapí National Park where you can spend your days/weeks horseback riding, paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, and biking miles of trails. Your options are almost limitless.
What we love about Cerro Catedral
The views from the top of the mountain looking down onto lake Nahuel Huapí are phenomenal. On bluebird days you can see for miles down to the skyline of Bariloche or out to what seems like and an endless horizon of mountains. The contrast between the two is the perfect backdrop for an epic adventure. Whether you skiing in the winter or hiking in the summer, the views here will never disappoint.
Bariloche is the perfect place to take a break from the slopes. Known for its scenic views, cafes, and chocolates—Bariloche can be a welcome contrast to the village at Catedral Alta. It has all the luxuries, buzz, and charm of a classic lakeside community. Year-round access to this outdoor playground makes this tiny city a top destination for many international travelers and honeymooners.
Built on the hilly shoreline of lake Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche is the ultimate base-camp for nature lovers. From here you can go on a day trip to El Bolsón, Volcán Lanín, or Villa La Angostura to experience the culture and natural splendor of the region. Don’t forget to add-in a few excursions like a tour of the glaciers at the foot of Cerro Tronador or a horseback riding tour through Nahuel Huapí National Park. At the end of the day, you can return to the city for drinks at a cafe, or dinner at one of Bariloche’s many restaurants, or some well deserved rest at your hotel or villa.
Carnicerias translates to “steakhouse” and there are some great ones to be found here. We recommend El Boliche de Alberto. This is probably one of the best spots in Bariloche for authentic Argentine steak.
Known for some of the best restaurants in all of Argentina, Bariloche offers everything from the juiciest steaks, to perfect gnocchi, and fresh trout. Here are a few other spots we like: La Fonda del Tio (incredible lunch spot where locals eat), La Marmite (Argentine & European cuisine), II Gabbiano (Italian).
For drinks we recommend: Wilkenny, Cerveceria Beerland, and the Pilgrim.
Everyone here is very friendly and open to meeting international travelers. Many speak English and will offer good advice on places to go and things to see and do in the area.
Bariloche is home to some of the best chocolate in the world. It may be a little-known fact but the Belgian and Swiss have nothing on Argentina when it comes to chocolate. There’s even a street in Bariloche known as the “Avenue of Chocolate Dreams”. A stroll down Mitre Avenue is what chocolate lovers’ dreams are made of. Store after store—window after window—are filled with chocolate delights. Folks who enjoy sweets can not miss this treat.
What to expect
Conditions and terrain
Similar to Tahoe, base snow conditions are wet and heavy at times. Higher elevations get more consistent snow with drier powdery conditions. Annual snowfall near the top of the mountain is around 6 meters. However, it can be less than 2 meters at the base of the mountain. For the best conditions, stay above the tree line. You will not be disappointed.
Beginners will find easy runs at the base of the mountain. More Advanced beginners will enjoy the middle section of the mountain where the snow conditions are better and more challenging. Intermediates will find glades and fun tree sections in the same area. Advanced intermediates and Experts will be at home at the top of the mountain where they’ll find steep chutes and open powder bowls.
Accommodations & Night Life
The base Village of Cerro Catedral is filled with three, four, and five-star accommodations. Most are ski-in/ski-out with many amenities such as; outdoor heated pools, jacuzzis, saunas, full-service spas, and fitness centers. There are several food options throughout the village and on the mountain. There is even a food court in the village mall (not a bad place for a good inexpensive meal). Keep in mind, most of the restaurants and bars in the village close between 11-12pm.
Night owls should opt to stay in Bariloche where things get started around 9 pm and go well into the night. Bariloche’s nightlife abounds—whether you prefer upscale bars with live music, clubs, wine bars, or just enjoying a microbrew—you can find it all right here.
Catedral Alta Stats
Best time to go: July -September
Best time to book: November-May
Travel time: 11hrs from NYC/16hrs from Seattle/ 13hrs from Chicago (plus 45 mins for transfer from Bariloche)
Top Elevation: 7,153 feet
Annual Snowfall: 275+ in
Vertical drop: 3,773 ft
Resort terrain: 20km of slopes (15% beginner, 60% intermediate, 20% advanced and 5% expert)