The Lake District is made up of lots of mountains, forests, lakes – imagine that – rocks, trees, waterfalls, and all other things nature made. It is a beautiful location and the well developed moutain towns are a perfect balance to the rustic beautiful surroundings. Bariloche is the most common stop in the area but there are many other small towns scattered among the Andes that are highlighted here.
Bariloche has been known as the Gateway to Patagonia. With nearly 100,000 people it is the largest city in the Lake Region and the most frequently visited. It sits alongside Lake Nahuel Huapi and offers the best views in the area. The most obvious form of entertainment…the great outdoors. During the winter season, Cerro Catedral, the ski resort, is crawling with people from all over the world. It is said to be one of the most important ski resorts in all of South America. And during the warmer months the lake side beaches are scattered with sun bathers, the mountains swarming with trekkers, and tourist agencies are booked with endless numbers of excursions.
Aside from the beauty of Bariloche, the city itself has a lot to offer. It is one of the most diverse Argentinean towns in terms of cuisine. The night life may fool you into thinking you are back in a big city, and the dessert options are endless with chocolate shops on every corner.
San Martin de los Andes
San Martin de los Andes is a smaller town version of Bariloche. It has a more local feel and a quieter atmosphere. Regardless of where you are in town, the mountains are only walking distance away. The town literally sits in the crevice of the mountains making them extremely accessible and it is bordered by Lake Lacar. This gives it little room to grow and a cozier mountain feel than other towns in the Lake District. From Cerro Chapelco, the local ski resort, one can truly appreciate the main attraction of the area – the spectacular landscapes. One of which is Volcano Lanin which sits in the near distance. This area makes up the Lanin National Park and includes the 20,000 inhabitants of San Martin, as well as the 8,500 in the neighboring town – Junin de los Andes. With the smaller town the night life options are more limited but if it is charm that you are searching for, this town can’t be beat.
Villa La Angostura
Villa La Angostura is the smallest of these first three towns but surprisingly has many big city influences. There are approximately 3,200 inhabitants of this town; but it frequently attracts many Buenos Aires vacationers. Along with the Porteños come many other developments in the area including any array of boutique shops, fancy architecture, and numerous restaurants and cafes. It is a perfect combination of the rugged outdoors with the posh big city privileges. The main entrance into the Arrayanes National Park is right outside of town and the outdoor activities are plentiful.
Other Small Towns
While the previously three mentioned towns are probably the most sought after destinations, there are many others that are well worth a day or so of exploring. El Bolson is just south of Bariloche and is known as being the hippie capital of the world. It is a very low key town that resonates the peaceful spirit you may imagine from a community of the relaxed folk. On most days of the week the main plaza is full of local craftsmen with all of their artisan goods for the most well known craft market in the area. The town also attracts visitors seeking the local breweries.
Junin de los Andes is a smaller version of San Martin that doesn’t attract too many tourists – which makes it more appealing to some – but is a great fishing town and destination.
And for the best views in the area, you can’t miss Villa Traful. Once again, this town is itty bitty and there aren’t abundant options in lodging and dining but it is BEAUTIFUL and provides plenty of other activities with its incredible outdoor surroundings.
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