What To DoPrint
Trekking, fishing, camping, rock climbing, kayaking, skiing, sailing, mountain biking, trail riding, and sight seeing, are just a few of the outdoor activity options to get you started. The amazing scenery gives this part of the country a big name for hiking. And for those planning a longer more secluded hiking trip, there are refuges placed within the dramatic mountain landscapes that provide a place to rest amidst the incomparable views. Many are only accessible by foot; so grab a map from any of the tourist information stands in town, pack a bag, and prepare to spend any number of unforgettable days in the rugged Andes.
If you happen to arrive on an unfortunately rainy weather week there are options for indoor entertainment as well. Tango shows, an incredible night life, shopping centers, theatres, casinos, and of course, the chocolate shops make for some fun times.
The Great Outdoors
Because the Lake District is so well known for their trekking expeditions, we may as well start there. How could you not be entertained when surrounded in this beautiful environment? If you need a hiking destination, some of the best options are the refugios. They are typically not luxury accommodations but the locations can not be beat.
Refugio Frey is a four hour hike behind Bariloche’s ski hill, Cerro Catedral, where you can watch the early morning sun shine down upon the towering spires in the distance. Refugio Laguna Negra is another beautiful hike and retreat location. Any and all of these refugios can be visited during the December to April months and will be well worth the trip.
It’s always a good idea before embarking on a big trekking event to gather more information regarding the hike difficulty, weather conditions, sleeping arrangements, and so on. Just about every guide book you will read, will tell you that they place to go to obtain this information is Club Andino. Maybe they are extremely helpful if you can catch them while they are open, but let me share my opinion.
In the past year of living in Argentina I have waited patiently at the door of Club Andino on various occasions, anxious to prepare for a new hike, and I have never, let me repeat NEVER, found anyone there, regardless of the schedule they have posted and the time of day I arrive. I am not sure why this place continues to be recommended, or even exist for that matter; however, I have discovered an alternative. Right across the street you will see another small tourist information office that will provide all of the information you need regarding trekking and refugios. They are very friendly and helpful and offer their highest recommendations.
From the Mountain Tops
Love the views from the top of the mountains but not the hike to get there? Cerro Campanario and Cerro Otto are two chair lifts that will get you to the top of the Andes in a quick and painless manner. The views from Cerro Campanario were once named one of the Top 10 Views of the World by National Geographic. Cerro Campanario is located along Av. Bustillo at km 17.5 and Teleférico Cerro Otto is at km 1.
Canopying / Canopy Tours
So now you’ve had the bird side view, how about getting a new perspective. There is one company in town that offers high flying experiences through the trees. Bus 10 or 11 will eventually lead you to a canopying site for an exhilarating Tarzan like experience.
Canopying in Bariloche
Tel. 02944 400286
Cel. 02944 15 607191
Patagonia fishing has developed quite a name for itself, and for good reason. You will be in heaven as you reel in your new personal records from the water. Even the street signs of the small Lake District towns are embellished with fish designs and pictures. Within each town you will easily find information regarding fishing guides and different trips.
Most of the Lake District is composed of…well water, obviously. Therefore, one of the best ways to see the area is on a kayak. A kayaking trip enables you to explore unique Patagonian treasures that you’d otherwise never see. Pura Vida Patagonia is a professional and well organized kayaking company that offers various kayaking options that can range from half a day, to multiple day trips.
Pura Vida Patagonia
Tel 2944 448793
Rafting is another way to experience the wild waters of the area. From San Martin de los Andes you can float down the Rio Hua Hum river, from El Bolson the Rio Azul, and from Bariloche you can choose from the Rio Limay or Rio Manso. There are various operators in each area and different trip options that you can check out at Patagonia Rafting.
Like fishing, there are also endless opportunities for horseback riding in the area. A top a horse you discover many enchanting forests, hidden rivers and streams, and undiscovered waterfalls. There are many options regarding operators and mountain routes to follow. From Bariloche, Fortin Chacabuco is recommended, from San Mrtin, Laguna Rosales, and from Villa La Angostura, Mirador del Cerro Belvedere and the Inacayal Waterfall.
Mountains + Snow = Skiing / Snowboarding. This part of Argentina attracts the world’s biggest ski bums and for good reason. Cerro Chapelco, Cerro Catedral, and Cerro Bayo are three of best known ski hills in the area which offer great skiing for great prices and a bustling social atmosphere to boot.
If you love golfing, you are in for a treat. The infamous Llao Llao Hotel and Resort comes with one of the countries best golf courses. Its 18 hole course is sown with excellent grasses and it is bordered by the Nahuel Huapi Lake. It is the ideal place to spend a few days of golf and relaxation.
Perhaps you are more comfortable with an organized trip than jumping into the wild outdoors on your own. There are plenty of options available through the local tourist agencies.
The Arrayanes National Park is a sacred area in Argentina and once you witness all of the beauty it encompasses you will understand exactly why. There are boat excursions that embark from the shores of Puerto Pañuelo in Bariloche, and also trips beginning in Villa la Angostura. The unique trees will blow you away. The excursion typically includes a second top at Victoria Island that is inhabited by a small group of the Lake District’s indigenous people. It’s a great way to spend the day
If you really want to get a feel for the Lake District….and I mean ALL of the Lake District…one of the best ways to do it is along the Seven Lakes Crossing. There are full day excursions available that include enormous quantities of sight seeing as the tour bus winds through the beautiful fresh water formations. If you don’t mind traveling on the bus, it is a wonderful trip. However, this same trip can be made with a car rental and the freedom to stop whenever you please.
Circuito Grande/Circuito Chico are common sight seeing routes for backpackers visiting the area. Many choose to take on Circuito Chico by bike, but make sure you eat your Wheaties first. It is feasible but there are many hills and climbs to ensure you get a good work out. Tours, car rentals, or buses will also lead you through the circuit and let you enjoy some of the highlights such as Playa Bonita, Moreno Lake, Hotel Llao Llao, the Blest brewery and pub, and Laguna El Trebol.
If you are in San Martin you will inevitably find yourself standing along the shores of Lake Lacar and soaking in your surroundings. If you look down along the beach you will see a dock and a couple of ships with daily drop off/pick up schedules to take tourists to the enchanting sanctuary of Quila Quina. This undiscovered area is very secluded and inhabited by a small community of the indigenous Mapuche people that first arrived in these southern Patagonian lands. There you can spend a day in a fairy tale as you wander through the community, visit waterfalls, and stroll through the yellow flowered forests.
And What do you do Indoors?
Of COURSE everyone visits the chocolate shops when they are in these towns, but don’t forget about the chocolate factories. They are equally as delicious and even more entertaining. While sampling the tasty sweets you can tour the factory and witness the entire chocolate making process in their elaborate systems and machinery.
There are all kinds of night time activities, especially when in the Bariloche area. Check out the Going out in the Lake District section for more details on the hottest pubs, bars and discotecas.
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