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Lost World Adventures Travel Blog

Patagonia ebook - Bariloche and the Lakes District

cerro-campanario-viewpoint-near-bariloche

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San Carlos de Bariloche, known simply as Bariloche, is situated in the Andes of northern Patagonia of Argentina. The region's alpine atmosphere attracted Swiss, German, and Austrian settlers at the end of the 19th century, and their descendants still influence the culture of Bariloche today, especially with their delicious chocolate shops.

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GETTING THERE

Air - daily non-stop flights from Buenos Aires and El Calafate.

Overland - the Andean Lakes Crossing is the most scenic way to travel from Chile to Argentina. This spectacular crossing of the Andes lakes you through lakes and mountain passes that can either be made from Bariloche to Puerto Varas or from Puerto Varas to Bariloche. Operates all year round. The crossing includes three lakes: Nahuel Huapi, Frias and Todos los Santos.

WEATHER & CLIMATE

In the summer (December to March), the Bariloche region has windy, sunny weather during the daytime, with afternoons ranging 18 to 26 °C (64 to 79 °F), but is still quite cold at night, with temperatures hovering around 2 to 9 °C (36 to 48 °F). The first snowfall is during mid-May, and winter lasts until early October. The area generally experiences stormy weather with snow, rain, sleet, and occasional snowstorms. Winter highs are between 0 and 12 °C (32 and 54 °F), while lows are between −12 and 4 °C (10 and 39 °F).

ACTIVITIES

Hiking and mountaineering are very popular, especially in the Nahuel Huapi National Park, which has hiking trails rated as easy, moderate, and difficult. Mountain biking and lake kayaking are also very popular. 

If you seek a cruising experience, you can sail to Victoria Island, the largest island of Nahuel Huapi Lake, and visit the unique Arrayanes Wood. Arrayanes Forest, located on the southeast coast of Quetrihué Peninsula. Here, “arrayanes” can reach 15 meters of height and be almost 650 years old. The “arrayán” blooms at the end of the year, producing tiny white flowers. These trees are distinguished by their cinnamon color and their smooth bark. When the bark peels off, whitish and reddish spots appear on the trunks and branches. Declared a National Park in 1980, the forest is visited by way of a wooden walkway of approximately 600 meters in length to prevent the park from being damaged by too much foot traffic.

Hiking

The ascent of Cerro Bella Vista hike is a relatively strenuous, steep hike to the summit at 1,750 meters with spectacular 360-degree views.  From the trailhead of El Tambo hike through woods surrounded by thick vegetation. The ascent is slow up to the first lookout. From there you steadily continue ascending until reaching the second part of the trail, where you will be surrounded by high lenga trees and colorful amancay flowers. The trail passes the tree line at around 1600 meters, the vegetation yielding the center stage to fresh air and unmatchable panoramic views. After a 3-hour walk, you reach the pre-summit. The views do justice to the hill's name, guaranteeing postcard-like pictures. Relaxation and lunch time are spent over a hearty "picada" prepared high in the mountain.  The total elevation gain to the summit is around 800 meters. 

Cerro Goye is situated directly above Colonia Suiza, a small popular tourist center near Bariloche. The hike is not as well known as some of the popular mountain hut hikes in the area but the views are just as spectacular. The peak itself has a small alpine zone but it provides excellent views of many of the surroundings peaks, including Cerro Lopez, Cerro Negro, Cerro Catedral, and Cerro Tronador. Also, because of its proximity to Colonia Suiza and Bariloche, Cerro Goye offers clear views of Lago Nahuel Huapi, Lago Moreno, Isla Victoria, and Peninsula Llao Llao. 

The Mt. Tronador hike will take you to one of the most beautiful areas of Nahuel Huapi National Park, where you will see forests, lakes, beaches, mountains and waterfalls. Tronador, which rises 3,478 meters above sea level, forms a natural frontier between Argentina and Chile.  Besides the magnificent scenery, there are unusual natural wonders such as Ventisquero Negro, the “black glacier”, which originates from the spotless white ice at the top of Tronador. This is the source of River Manso, a typical mountain river that winds down to the Pacific Ocean flowing over rapids and waterfalls such as the renowned Los Alerces Cascade.

The Frey Hut hike is one of the more popular hikes, and for good reason. The trailhead is located at the base of Cerro Catedral, one of the largest ski areas in South America. From here you ascend to Van Titter creek through a regenerating forest. The trail becomes steeper, passes through beautiful beech forest to the Piedritas hut, a good place for a short break to take in the surroundings. Around an hour later, depending on your pace, you arrive at the Frey hut, located in a glacial cirque at the foot of Laguna Toncek surrounded by golden granite spires that draw climbers from around the world.

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Biking

You can explore several areas by bike: Cerro Catedral, Cerro Otto, Lake Guillelmo and the Rio Manso Valley.

Like many ski resorts in North America, the summer season offers fantastic downhill mountain biking. Mount Catedral is one of the most popular ski resorts in Northern Patagonia. Take the ski lift to the starting point at 1,400 meters. From there begin a smooth descent along an thrilling trail that crosses brooks, passes waterfalls with spectacular views along the way. The end of the ride is at a small beach by Lake Gutierrez with a gorgeous view of the South Wall of Catedral. Super panoramic!

Drive to the summit of Cerro Otto by car. From the summit you will begin the downhill ride through an incredible lenga forest to “Piedra Hasburgo” (Hasburgo promontory) with one of the best views of the area. After a break and a snack continue the descent to Lake Gutierrez.

Valle de Manso is a full-day bike ride along a 12-mile stretch of the Manso River Valley. Along the way, your guide will tell some of the stories of the first pioneers that arrived in Bariloche around the end of the 19th century. Along the ride you will stop in several villages to mingle with the friendly locals and taste their homemade delicacies. You can sample cheeses, homemade jams, breads, and more, so you'll have plenty of energy to fuel you on your journey.

Lago Guillelmo is a beautiful lake located 30 miles south of Bariloche. The mountain bike stage begins at the southern end and rides along the old abandoned road to El Bolson. This scenic trip follows the coastline along the way. This ride crosses many beautiful beech (Coihue) forests, rocky outcrops and small streams that flow down from the mountain. At the northern end the support vehicle will be awaiting with lunch. 

Kayaking

Kayaking allows to reach the most remote and pristine areas. Many of the mountain biking lake circuits combines perfectly with a few hours paddling on the lakes: Nahuel Huapi, Moreno, Gutiérrez, Guillelmo, Mascardi.

sea kayaking in argentina lake district

After biking Lago Guillelmo you will have around 2 hours for kayaking on the lake.

The put-in at Lake Mascardi, Arroyo Fresco beach, is about 45 minutes by car from Bariloche. You will kayak for around 45 minutes to Playa Leones, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Nahuel Huapi National Park. From there you can hike through the forest to Laguna Llum. The trail climbs gradually about 150 meters, passing through woods of Coihues (Southern beech), Notros (Firebush) and Caña Colihue (Colihue cane). Hike back to Playa Leones with time for lunch before paddling back to Arroyo Fresco.  

Fishing

argentina lake district fly fishing

Argentina's Lake District is a world-class destination for fly fishing. A full-day, privately-guided fly fishing excursion is the ideal opportunity to get the most the Bariloche region has to offer. Patagonia is one of the few remaining areas in the world where you can still catch genuine wild trout descended from the stock introduced at the beginning of the century.

Golf

bariloche golf

There are two excellent golf courses in the Bariloche area:  the Llao Llao Hotel & Resort Golf Spa and the Arelauquen Golf & Country Club. 

Wintertime skiing

Bariloche ski resort

For those visiting in the wintertime (June through October), Bariloche is an excellent place to ski. With some hills reaching 2,100 meters above sea level, these are no beginner's slopes, but for expert skiiers it can be an incredible experience due to the beauty of the surroundings. Other winter sport options include snowboarding, sledding for kids, 4x4 tours, and snow biking (ATV).

Soft adventure

If you're looking to appreciate the sights of Bariloche with a little less exertion, options include easy walks, a private driving tour, and a catamaran sailing excursion on Lake Nahuel Huapi.

On the Isla Victoria excursion you will sail the waters of Lake Nahuel Huapi to Victoria Island  Disembark at Puerto Anchorena and step into the silence of the forest and its history. Trails lead to isolated beaches (Bahía Totoras) where you will have time to relax over lunch by the lake shore, contemplating the  panoramic views from this mythical place. You will finish the circuit coming back to Puerto Anchorena. 

This Grand Circuit (Circuito Grande) is a full-day panoramic drive through enchanted valleys to Lake Traful and the quaint namesake village, along the lakeside road parallel to Nahuel Huapi Lake. The day is one of gorgeous scenery, clear rivers, forests and mountain vistas. Private drives give you plenty of time to stop and explore along the way.  

Another excellent full-day road trip is the "Route of the Seven Lakes" to San Martin de Los Andes. The 184 km. route from Bariloche to San Martin de Los Andes follows the shoreline of Nahuel Huapi Lake to Villa La Angostura. Along the way you will pass through two national parks: Nahuel Huapi and Lanin. From La Angostura you drive by Correntoso (Swift) Lake, ideal for salmon-fishing, and Espejo (Mirror) Lake, with a beautiful panoramic viewpoint. The road continues, skirting part of the Pichi Traful River, to Traful. The slopes surrounding this path are densely populated with coihue and colihue cane forests.

The route continues to Escondido (Hidden) Lake, into the valleys of Lakes Villarino and Falkner, two of the most beautiful lakes along the trip. At km. 149 the wide valley of Lago Hermoso (Beautiful Lake) opens up before you. The road winds up to Lake Machonico, where the landscape becomes drier, the last lake before reaching San Martin de los Andes. After some time to wander around the popular tourist town you will return to Bariloche by a more direct route. Or, spend a day or two in San Martin and fly back to Buenos Aires from there.  There are daily non-stop flights. 

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WHERE TO STAY

llao llao hotel and resort

Llao Llao Hotel and Resort Golf Spa - this kid-friendly, luxury hotel offers amazing swimming options with their interconnected and temperature regulated indoor and outdoor swimming pools, Jacuzzi, children's pool, and pool bar with food and drink services. They also have amazing restaurant and bar options including Patagonia Coffee Shop, Los Césares Grill & Pasta, Winter Garden (open for lunch and afternoon tea), Lobby Bar, Club House (open for lunch and afternoon tea). Spa services include spa treatments, special programs, kids and teens spa, health club and fitness center with sauna. The Nahuelito Kids Club is open year round and organizes activities such as water games, puppets, and kite flying. Golfing on the 18-hole course and boat rentals are also available for an additional price.

El Casco Art Hotel - located less than 7 miles from the center of San Carlos de Bariloche.  The hotel has an outdoor pool and terrace open all year, restaurant and bar. Rooms have views of the lake or the garden. 

Design Suites Bariloche offers stunning lake and mountain views. This higher-end hotel also has amazing views of Lake Nahuel Huapi and is equipped with amenities such as designer decor, Wi-Fi, and private hot tubs. A fitness center, sauna, massage room, indoor/outdoor swimming pool are also available for guests to enjoy. Buffet breakfast is served daily and drinks can be enjoyed in the quaint lodge with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lake. Design Suites Bariloche is 10 miles from Catedral Ski Centre and 10.9 miles from the Luis Candelaria Airport.

Charming Lodge is ideally situated on a bluff above Playa Bonita on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi they have unparalleled views and are only 7km from downtown Bariloche and 12km from the ski center at Cerro Catedral.

Península Petit Hotel - a cozy, cabin-like hotel located on the lake Nahuel Huapi. The employees especially want guests to get to know Bariloche for the splendid city it is and enjoy the amazing nature. You'll wake up with the tranquility of trout jumping in the lake and the wind whistling through the trees. Península Petit Hotel is located in San Pedro Peninsula, 12 miles from Bariloche. All of their spacious rooms have a spectacular view of Lake Nahuel Huapi. All rooms have Wi-Fi internet access, plasma screen TVs, and DVD players for relaxation after a long day hiking the surroundings. Breakfast is available daily.

Read more about travel to Argentina on our Travel Planning Pages.

Read more about travel to Patagonia on our Patagonia Planning Pages

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