Things to do in Cholila: A Patagonia Travel Guide

Patagonia’s popularity is booming and what were once small towns are now proper cities in their own right.

In peak season there is no such thing as getting away from it all in Bariloche or El Bolson. People are everywhere.

Cholila, however, is still all that is right.

To stay in Cholila still feels like you’re in the frontier, what the wild west must have felt like in the US in the 19th century.

It makes perfect sense that Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid chose Cholila to build their homestead here after fleeing the US.

They must have felt right at home.

Most people visit Cholila as a day trip to see the outlaws’ cabins but we stayed for four nights.

While it does make an easy day trip, Cholila is ruggedly beautiful.

Stay longer if you can.

You won’t regret it.

QUICK NOTE: This post contains affiliate links and Sol Salute may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, at no extra cost to you.

Things to do in Cholila

By nature, I have a really hard time slowing down when I travel but Cholila was the perfect antidote.

We rented a gorgeous cabin for four nights with a view of Lago Mosquito and it was paradise.

My husband grilled every night on the parrilla, building the fire as the sun set behind the mountains.

We spent time in the national park and on Mother’s Day we flew kites with friends in the Patagonia wind.

It was idyllic.

Of course, if you’re looking for a bit more action you can always find a horseback ride, a hike or a fishing excursion in these neck of the woods.

But Cholila, for me, was relaxing.

Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid’s cabins in Cholila

The Butch Cassidy Cabins

The biggest attraction in Cholila are the cabins Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid called home (along with Etta Place).

After their final US bank robbery they fled to Argentina where they spent 6 years, mostly in these Cholila cabins.

They lived an honest life here with their own herd of cattle and sheep, even registering their own brand.

The cabins are on private property but you can visit them freely right off of Ruta 71 on the way into Cholila.

The gates were open so we drove on in, the family seemed to be having lunch and had no problem with us driving past their home towards the cabins.

We spent over an hour relaxing in the wildflowers outside the outlaws’ home.

It’s a bit surreal to visit a historic site in such a relaxed way and considering this, they’re still in very good condition.

Read more about the history of Butch Cassidy in Argentina and how to visit these cabins.

Museo Bar La Legal

I love a good Almacen de Ramos Generales (general store) in rural Argentina and Cholila did no disappoint with Museo Bar La Legal.

It’s just a few hundred meters from the turn off to the Butch Cassidy cabins so you’re going to want to combine these two stops into one morning or afternoon.

For a minimal entrance fee you can and should visit their two room history and Butch Cassidy museum in side rooms.

They’re jam packed with information, including a photo op where you can put your face in a wanted poster and Etta Place’s complete bedroom set moved here from her cabin.

There is also a small gift shop selling local products like wine, alfajores, clothes and the like.

Have breakfast, merienda, or a self-designed happy hour (our wine loving group’s choice) to round out the day.

Parque Nacional Los Alerces

Cholila is a great base for one of Argentina’s most beautiful national parks, Parque Nacional Los Alerces.

It’s a bit of a drive to get to the park but still a viable town to use as your base and much more off the beaten path than Esquel or Trevelin (which are located close to the main, central gate).

You can spend your time on the northern edge of the park, which from my experience had less people.

Here you have Lago Rivadavio and Lago Verde, which are connected by Rio Rivadavia.

There are a number of trails in this area to enjoy.

But you can venture further into the park, of course.

We hiked the most popular trail, the Sendero Lahuan Solitario loop trail which is easy and takes about two hours.

However you choose to spend your time, don’t miss this park. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in Argentina, and I have seen a lot.

Don’t miss stopping at this viewpoint of the valley after Villa Lago Rivadavia in route to the National Park, it’s well marked and easy to spot.

Visit the Lakes

There are a few lakes surrounding Cholila but I found them all hard or impossible to access.

Perhaps it came down to us asking no one for help and assuming we’d find the way (probably this) but I did find an article from this month (January 2024) that they were in the process of developing accesses to all of the lakes.

So I’d say they are, unfortunately, difficult to reach.

Lago Pellegrini/Mosquito

First, you have Lago Pellegrini, known by the locals as Lago Mosquito.

This is closest to town and a lot of cabins are located on or with views of this lake.

For the life of us, we could not find any way to access the shores of the lake but according to the aforementioned article they were going to develop 3 accesses to the lake from Ruta 15.

Lago Lezana from Villa el Blanco

Next, following a local’s advice we headed to Lago Lezana (also shown as Lago Lezama on some maps).

We followed a road we found on Google Maps, accessing the lake via Villa El Blanco.

The water levels were too high to see much but we did get to enjoy a picnic here and fly kites on Mother’s Day. I can’t complain.

I never got tired of photographing Cerro Tres Picos in Cholila

Lago Cholila & Lago Lezana from Ruta 71

When driving down Ruta 71 on the way to Parque Nacional Los Alerces with two sleeping children in the backseat I passed a dirt road to my right with signs advertising fishing lodges and the two lakes.

Taking advantage of the sleeping kids I turned right planning on exploring.

We didn’t make it to either lakes.

However, on the way to Cholila Lake we did pass a beautiful grassy lagoon and snaked alongside the shores of Rio Carrilleufu.

The river would be a great place to fish from on foot and there were parrillas and picnic tables there.

When trying to then follow the road to Lago Lezana I had to open a gate and drive across private(?) property. Gauchos seeing me do so didn’t seem bothered so I kept going… until I couldn’t anymore.

The road was in horrible condition and when I started to get really scared I backed out of there, tail between legs, seeing no lakes whatsoever.

If this situation changes or there is a better way, please comment below.

I think it just comes down to Cholila isn’t very developed for tourism still.

While being a major draw (away from the crowds), this has its own setbacks (difficult/no lake access).

Fiesta Nacional de Asado

For three days in February each year, Cholila hosts the biggest asado you’ll ever see in your life.

Over 150 asadores grill over 10,000 kilos of meat, hundreds of chorizos, and a few hundred lambs each year.

The event grounds are just a couple blocks from the main square and an estimated 40,000 people attend the festival each year.

If you want to stay in town, I recommend reserving in advance. Otherwise, stay in nearby El Bolson and drive in for the day.

Cerro Pintado

Just off of Ruta 71 there is a short kilometer hike to indigenous paintings that are over 2,000 years old.

If you want to see them check with tourist information in town or reach out to their tourism office in advance (they have an active Instagram account) and see about reserving a guide who can bring you there.

Where to Stay in Cholila

We had a hard time finding a place to stay in Cholila at first.

There weren’t many options online, yet when we got there it felt like everything had a sign advertising this and that cabin for rent.

I’m sure as Cholila develops things will become more organized (for better or worse).

In the end, we found a great cabin and looked around at other options while there. Here’s where to stay in Cholila:

  • Cabaña Ollagua – Located uphill a bit with an epic view of Lago Pelligrini/Mosquito, I LOVED our cabin. It was such a Patagonian dream. Waking up to that view was impossible to beat and we loved grilling at sunset each night. I definitely recommend it.
  • Budget Cabins – If Ollagua is booked, Tres Picos has a good view of, you guest it, Cerro Tres Picos and are very budget friendly.
  • Hostel in Cholila – Piuke Mapu Patagonia Hostel – Great location a few blocks from the main square, you can walk to dining options from here but still have epic views of Cerro Tres Picos.
  • Hosteria El Trebol – This hosteria seemed to be the nicest we saw with a great location on Lago Pellegrini/Mosquito. Best if you have a car to get there but if you want something that feels more like a nice hotel than your own cabin, this is the one to book.

And if your goal is to mostly explore Parque Nacional Los Alerces look at cabins in Villa Lago Rivadavia, a tiny village about 30 minutes south of Cholila (much closer to the park’s gate). You’ll see rental cabins on Google Maps if you zoom in and play around there.

How to get to Cholila

Cholila is an hour south of El Bolson.

The drive was very easy and you could definitely do Cholila in a day if all you want is to see the Butch Cassidy cabins.

If this is your plan, you’ll want a car. Check rental rates here.

Coming with our own car is ideal. The national park, lakes, and everything you want to see is far from town.

Can you get to Cholila by bus?

There are bus connections from El Bolson, Epuyen, and Esquel.

For specific schedules and bus companies, check the official Cholila Instagram account.

They have a story highlight, “como llegar” with all the information.

Buses aren’t every day so it’s important to plan in advance if you can’t drive yourself.

Read more about Patagonia

Argentina Travel Resources

  • TRAVEL INSURANCE | It is always a good idea to travel insured. It protects you in so many cases, like lost luggage and trip cancellations, medical emergencies and evacuations. It’s very affordable with the potential to save you thousands in the case of an emergency. I recommend SafetyWing.
  • PHONE PLAN | These days, traveling with data is essential. Especially in Argentina where everything is managed on Instagram and WhatsApp. I recommend this E-SIM card. It’s hassle-free and affordable, for more read how to get an Argentina sim card.
  • ACCOMMODATION IN ARGENTINA | booking.com is the most common hotel site used in Argentina and it’s where you’ll find the most options.
  • RENTAL CARS | I love to travel Argentina via road trip, check out RentalCars.com for the best rates for rental cars here.
  • BUS TICKETS | I like Busbud for long distance bus routes and tickets.
  • VPN | If you’ll be using a public WiFi connection and want to secure your data, I highly recommend using a VPN, I personally use and have had a good experience with ExpressVPN. I also use it to access Hulu and American Netflix from Argentina.
  • FLIGHTS | Always check Google Flights and Skyscanner for flights to and within Argentina. Aerolineas Argentina is the local airline with the most routes. FlyBondi and Jetsmart are two budget airlines with dirt-cheap prices (but expect to pay for every add-on like luggage).
  • NEED HELP PLANNING? | I offer one-on-one travel consultations to help you plan your trip to Argentina. Pick my brain to get a local’s insight. Click here for more information.

Leave a Comment