Surrounded by shimmering lakes and quiet mountin villages, the lake district is without doubt one of Argentina’s most pitoresque regions!
Nestled among the lakes and mountains of the stunningly beautiful Patagonian Lake District, Bariloche serves as a well-developed base for visitors coming to explore the surrounding countryside. Perched right on the edge of Lake Nahuel Huapi and backed by snowy peaks, you can easily forgive Bariloche’s slightly messy growth from small village to buzzing tourist center. There is an alpine feel to this region of the lakes, which is not just down to the terrain. During the 1800s many German and Swiss immigrants arrived from Chile and settled in the region. Their influence can still be plainly seen in the architecture, the family names and in the traditional German and Swiss produce that can be found here, such as smoked game (trout, venison and boar), cheeses, artisan beer and chocolate. All of which go down very well after a full day of fresh air out in the great outdoors.
Patagonia Lakes & Mountains of Bariloche
For a slower pace head to the pretty little town of San Martin de los Andes, which sits quietly amidst the spectacular and grandiose landscape of the Patagonian Lake District, very close to Argentina’s border with Chile. Development in town has advanced at a much slower pace than in nearby Bariloche, and the town has a low-key charm with Swiss-style chalets and town houses. During winter the mountains around Bariloche offer some of the best skiing in the country and in mid-June to August the whole place is packed out with teenagers who come to enjoy the slopes and the lively après-ski nightlife. The rest of the year visitors to the region can hike, boat or bike surrounded by the beauty of the lakes and the National Park, which stretches all the way through the rolling countryside and Andean peaks to the Chilean border.
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What not to miss in the lake district & Bariloche
Seven Lakes Route
Argentina’s Lake District is home to the Seven Lakes near to San Carlos de Bariloche. The picturesque region is flanked by mixed natural forests and full of mountain flowers. In winter, the snow-covered landscapes and frozen lakes offer a winter wonderland. During the months of summertime, the warm mountain climate and a wide variety of boating trips on the calm lakes bring the region to life. In Autumn, the mountain forests change color, offering different shades of browns, reds, oranges, and yellows.
Nahuel Huapi National Park
Island of the Tiger in the language of mapuche, Nahuel Huapi National Park is one of Argentina’s oldest and most beautiful parks. Its 1,754,000 acres are filled with scenic lakes, rivers, valleys, meadows, Valdivia forests and wildflowers. Nathuel Huapi National Park is a sight to behold in all seasons, from springtime to winter, with its many waterfalls and iceburg-dotted lakes. The High Andes, humid forest and undulating steppes demonstrate the array of atmospheric zones present in Patagonia.
Cerro Catedral is the heart of skiing in Bariloche. This is the largest ski resort in Argentina, but also in summer it makes for a great place to hike and take a chairlift up the mountain for views over the Bariloche’s Patagonian lakes and the Andes mountains. There is also a bike park with trails for mountain bikers who enjoy downhill runs, there are mixed levels for different age groups and talent levels. View from all sides of Cerro Cathedral are breathtaking.
San Martin de los Andes
Sitting quietly amidst the spectacular landscape of the Patagonian Lake District, with two peak periods: winter for skiing at Cerro Chapelco and summer for trekking, climbing and trekking. There is also an excellent boating excursion on the lake, and if the snow’s cleared you should seriously think about leaving town for a drive. The town retains much of the charm and architectural unity that once attracted people to Bariloche, but has a much more small town feel.
Villa la Angostura
Take time to settle out by the lake, outside the small city center filled with shops and amenities of this quaint little village south of Bariloche. There is a picturesque natural harbor scattered with small fishing boats and a wooden pier running out into the crystal waters of the lak . Along the shoreline you’ll find nestled private homes and exclusive hotels, such as Las Balsas, that provide the perfect base to explore the area. Whether it’s a break to relax or your hub for adventure, it’s gorgeous.
Parque Nacional los Arrayanes
The bare trees are rumored to be where the inspiration of the Disney children’s film, Bambi, as it takes on a surreal majestic and mystical feel during any season of the year. Los Arrayanes National Park with its 300 year old myrtle forest is one of the smallest but most beautiful national parks in the region. It covers a long, slim peninsula on the Nahuel Huapi Lake and can be reached by land from the resort town of Villa la Angostura. In any case, it’s also nice to spend plenty of time along the Ruta 40.
Kayak on the lake
You can explore the shores and majestic scenery and shores of Bariloche and surrounding lakes also by kayak. Single and double kayaks have dry compartments so that you can carry equipment and lunch, lovely hidden picnics can be arranged for those looking for a romantic getaway. Keep in mind that kayaks are extremely stable, so the inexperienced, as well as families can enjoy this wonderful adventure. Just keep in mind that the months of October to May are ideal (Argentine Spring and Summer), and to avoid windy days.
Hiking the National Parks
Argentina’s Lake District is home to two National Parks with incredible trail hikes – the Lanin and the Nahuel Huapi National Parks. Nahual Huapi has a handful of refugios for multi-day hikes or a quick overnight on a short 2-day hike experience. The Lanin’s centerpiece is the towering volcano, however, no refugios so camping is the only possibility. There are plenty of day hikes to explore, just depends on how much time you have in the area!
Don’t miss the chocolate
Bariloche is not only famous for the outdoor spots, but also has probably the best chocolate of Argentina. This Switzerland of South America has an ‘Avenue of Chocolate Dreams,’ The shop displays will seduce and draw you to the heart of their delightful chocolate filled treasures. There are also chocolate factories on the outskirts of the area that can be visited, and the addictive dulce de leche (caramelized milk) mixed with layers of wafers, fruit, cocoa or liqueur…then covered in chocolate.
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Patagonia Glacier National Park
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Iguazu Falls (Puerto Iguazu)
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Lake District & Bariloche
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Depending on your client’s preferences, we can help you determine the best experiences tailored for your clients. From where to visit, when to go, what to do and how to get there safely, our travel experts will help you create an experience your clients will love.
Best times to
visit Bariloche & the Lake District
The Lake District can be visited all year round, but of course when you choose to visit depends very much on your interests. Spring, summer and fall are the domain of the hikers, when blue skies, sunshine and mountain breezes make the whole area perfect for exploring. Be it an easy summer stroll or a full-on hike, the best time to visit is between September and May. If you are a dedicated snow baby and want nothing more than to hit the slopes of Patagonia’s winter wonderland, then the Southern Hemisphere winter from June to August is the opportune time.
HOW TO GET THERE
Flights at Bariloche’s Teniente Luis Candelaria airport arrive daily from Buenos Aires, and also other local cities, such as Esquel, El Calafate, Trelew and Mendoza City. Direct flights also connect Bariloche with Santiago de Chile.
Getting to San Martín de los Andes by airplane is possible by flying from Buenos Aires to the Aviador Carlos Campos airport in Chapelco.
Buses reach all sites in North Patagonia. The ride from Buenos Aires takes between 20 and 24 hours, and there is a wide range of prices and service quality.
The lake district is probably together with Salta one of the best region to rent a car and explore by yourself. the roads are all paved and in good conditions and you don’t need a 4×4 to get around.
Day tours are also a very good option and easy way to explore the highlights in the lake district. From Bariloche to San Martin you can catch a tourist shuttle bus that makes several scenic stops along the way.
Within the cities, walking is the best option to move about
WHERE TO STAY
Being one of the first and most important tourist sites in the country, Bariloche offers a wide range of possibilities in lodging. From five star hotels, to beautiful B&Bs by the lake, or very comfortable cabins by the Cerro Catedral resort.
San Martín de los Andes, in a smaller scale, has also a very complete lodging proposal in town, or by the Chapelco ski resort.
In Villa La Angostura, cabins, aparthotels and B&Bs are the most frequent type of lodging. This has much to do with the village’s peaceful atmosphere.
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