Visit Bariloche and The Lake District a hiker paradise Uncover South America

Argentina | Blog Visit Bariloche and The Lake District a hiker paradise

October 20, 2023

Argentina’s Lake District is the postcard destination by excellence with towering volcanoes, dense forest and clear-blue lakes. The town of San Carlos de Bariloche known more commonly as Bariloche is considered the capital of this region in Patagonia. The area is an unspoilt gem nestled in the northwestern part of Argentina that is a must-visit when visiting the country. There is so much to do and see here from hiking to climbing and sightseeing that will have outdoor enthusiasts eager for a visit to make the most of this incredible region. 

1- Bariloche, the heart of the Lake District 

Located near the Nahuel Huapi lake and surrounded by the Andes mountain, Bariloche which means ‘people from beyond the mountains’ is the epicentre of all travel in the region.  With a history of German settlers having come to the area in the 20th century from Chile, the town is reminiscent of villages and cities found in Switzerland thanks to its distinct Alpine architecture and feel. The main square is home to the cathedral that towers over the surrounding restaurant and cafes as well as the nearby lake. 

The nearby Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi is the main attraction when visiting Bariloche. The scenery is breathtaking with snow-capped mountains, scintillating lake and verdant foliage. There is also lots of activities to take part in such as hiking the many trails on offer or kayaking on Lago Nahuel Huapi. 

Cerro Tronador is the tallest mountain found in the national park with three distinct peaks that jut out of its flanks called Argentino, Internacional and Chileno. It is possible to climb the mountain though it is best done with supervision from a guide as the glaciers that make up the mountain are known to detach and fall down which can make the climb a little dangerous for those unfamiliar with the mountainscape. The Manso River also passes nearby and is a popular spot for white-water rafting making it the perfect combo for adrenaline junkies. There is so much to see and do in the park that one visit is not enough to take it all in and appreciate the beauty of the landscape. 

Bariloche is also known for its thriving chocolate industry and there are many speciality chocolate shops in the town centre that will offer delectable temptations for all. Some of these shops have existed since the 1900s and serve the best desserts and patisseries in the region making it the perfect treat after a day spent hiking in the mountains. A stroll down Calle Mitre will showcase the most famous venues and restaurants in Bariloche in their unique Alpine architecture. 

The town is also home to the Museo de la Patagonia which contains a large number of artefacts and exhibits from the national park and the surrounding area. These exhibits showcase the history of the native and indigenous people who lived here and contributed to the growth of the region. There is a particular of us on the Mapuche people whose culture and traditions are still used to this day and can be seen in more depth within the Sala Pueblos Originarios exhibition. 


2- Activities to do while in the Lake District

One of the most famous things to do while in the Lake District is to take a road trip down the Ruta de los Siete Lagos also know as the Route of the Seven Lakes. The Route of the Seven Lakes is part of one of the longest roads in the world, Ruta 40, that spans over 5,000 kilometres and goes from the south to the north of Argentina. This section is only 108 kilometres long and can be done in a day making it the perfect way to witness the incredible landscape and lakes in the area.

If you are looking to experience a fun and out of the ordinary activity why not try out the La Trochita also known as the Old Patagonian Express. This steam train links the town of Esquel to Bariloche and Carmen de Patagones and used to carry both passengers and goods between the three locations. It is now one of the most popular tourist attractions and is a great way to discover the surrounding Lake District as it passes through some impressive scenery. 

In winter, the Lake District and Bariloche transforms into the biggest ski destination in the country. Thanks to the impressive surrounding mountains, locals flock to the town to spend days skiing and snowboarding down the slopes. Cerro Catedral is the most popular ski destination with over 120km of runs in a variety of different levels. Further south you will also find ski resorts such as Cerro Chapelco and La Hoya that are smaller but provide challenging runs in good conditions. At the beginning of August, Bariloche celebrates the Fiesta Nacional de la Nieve where parades take place along the main streets and performers ski down the slopes holding torches to celebrate the start of the winter season. 

3- Bariloche’s wildlife

The Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi is a haven for wildlife with a large number of birdlife and mammals present. The park has the biggest variety of birds in all of Argentina as well as many endemic mammals which include: 

  • Woodpeckers, parakeets and firecrowns.
  • Guanacos, deers, foxes and wild boar also dwell here. 

If you are very lucky you might spot some of the rarer animals such as the huemul or pudú. The huemul which resembles a little deer used to be a thriving mammal in the forests and parks but unfortunately due to excessive hunting their numbers have decreased significantly and only a small number remain nowadays. Therefore being able to see one of these elusive mammals is considered very lucky during your trip. 

4- Lake District and the surrounding areas

Surrounding Bariloche are other towns and cities that are popular for day visits in the Lake District region. The resort of Villa La Angostura is considered to be the holiday destination for many of the most famous and wealthy Argentinians in the country. It has even received the nickname of the ‘Garden of Patagonia’ due to its incredible scenery and nature. Similarly to Bariloche, the town is situated along the banks of the Nahuel Huapi Lake and offers a wealth of activities such as boat trips, kayaking and sailing its crystal clear waters. The Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes is also located close by and offers unique walking trails amongst the rare arrayán trees. Another nearby famous park is the Parque Nacional Los Alerces that protects the great alerce tree, a type of Patagonian cypress and one of the four oldest tree species in the world. The word alerce means ‘long-lived’ or ‘grandfather’ in Mapuche which is incredibly fitting as some of these trees are more than 4,000 years old. 

El Bolson is another great town to visit and provides an alternative view of Argentinian life thanks to its artisanal food products and bohemian vibe. Local artisans from around the area come to its famous market to display and sale their wares. From clothing to woodcarving and perfumes there is lots to see and entice the senses. Locally made and produced foods are also on offer to give you the experience of authentic cuisine. The Rio Azul is also located nearby and is ideal for those you enjoy watersports as there are plenty on offer such as kayaking and whitewater rafting. 

Neunquén is situated a bit further away from the Lake District region but is worth a visit due to the incredible paleontological sites that surround the town. The Neuquen basin is renowned for housing some of the largest number of fossils from some of the biggest dinosaurs. Along the banks of the Limay River as uncovered the largest dinosaur to have ever lived: the Argentinosaurus huinculensis. Archaeological and paleontological aficionados will no doubt be very excited to spend a couple of hours here. 

With stunning mountains and enchanting scenery combined with a whole host of different activities and tours to take part in, Bariloche and the surrounding Lake District is a destination unlike any other. You will fall in love with the incredible outdoors while experiencing true disconnection from your daily life. 

Please do get in touch with us to organise a tour to this magnificent region or to include it in a larger trip to Argentina. We would be pleased to discuss the many options available for you. 


Alexandra Coeln

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