Cavernas del Viejo Volcan Parque Cerro Leones

Useful Information

Location: Dina Huapi, 23 km from San Carlos de Bariloche. RN23 to the east, 100 m after the city limits.
(-41.076902, -71.144970)
Open: Only after reservation by telefone.
Fee: Adults ARP 330, Children (4-19) ARP 165, Children (0-3) free.
With transfer from Bariloche: Adults ARP 560, Children (4-19) ARP 395.
Classification: SpeleologyLava Cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=130 m.
Guided tours: L=900 m, D=2.5 h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Cavernas del Viejo Volcan Parque Cerro Leones, San Carlos de Bariloche, Tel: +54-294-446-8200.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Cavernas del Viejo Volcan Parque Cerro Leones is a small private park at the eastern side of Dina Huapi. Cerro Leones is the name of the volcano, which is extinct and mostly eroded. The hill contains three caves at different elevations. The tour follows a walking trail from one cave to the next and finally ends on the summit (987 m asl), which offers great views of the area. After the tour it is possible to add coffee and cakes at the hazienda. Quite famous is the hot chocolate.

The caves of the Cerro Leones were inhabited during the last 8,000 years. Beneath artifacts in the cave sediments they left paintings on the cave walls. However, the paintings are not very well preserved.

The place was discovered by Moreno Francisco Pascasio Moreno (31-MAY-1852 – 22-NOV-1919), a prominent explorer and academic in Argentina. He is often called Perito Moreno, perito means specialist or expert. He renamed the cave which was named Tequel-Malal by the native into Cueva Moreno. At this time the cave was used by as a cemetery with mummified bodies arranged one on top of the other. He transferred all the findings to his Museum of Natural Sciences in La Plata.

The first cave on the tour was used by the Tehuelches as a workshop and for cooking. The second cave was used to sleep inside. The guides tell that women and children were sleeping deep inside, while men slept at the door. This was a security measure against possible attacks of pumas. They also had a night watch. This was the cave which was later used as cemetery.

The third cave is the longest, but to enter it visitors must crawl a few meters. The portal is 30 m wide and 10 m high, but the cave narrows down to a crawl immediately. But behind the crawl is a passage where you can walk upright and which widens to the end. The cave is 130 m long and has a small lake at the end. For this cave visitors are equipped with a helmet and headlamp.

If you stay at Bariloche, they offer half day trips which include transport to the site and back. The office is at the Arrayanes gallery, Avda. Miter 349.