The Lake District has a spectacular scenery of scenic lakes, sparkling rivers, snow-capped mountains and sleepy volcanoes. The region has more attractions than just the two popular destinations of Bariloche and the Seven Lakes Route, and possibilities for outdoor activities lie just around the corner.
Bariloche – a Town to Organise Outdoor Activities
Bariloche is the Lake District’s most popular destination, which is not so strange considering the good connections it has with other Argentinian cities by air as well as by bus. The friendly, easygoing town has some sights in themselves worth a visit – especially for lovers of chocolate. Furthermore, Bariloche is a good starting point to organize outdoor adventures or to rent a car to explore the attractions of the Lake District independently.
In downtown Bariloche several tour operators are located. Popular outdoor activities are horseback riding, rafting and kayaking. For the intrepid traveler who likes to go out on his own, the Lake District has other attractions:
Mountain biking: at the Tourist Information ask for a map of the Circuito Chico, a 60 kilometres’ loop around Bariloche over paved roads.
Hiking: Lonely Planet’s “Trekking in the Patagonian Andes” offers several itineraries within the Lake District.
Fishing: this can be done organized or independently. A fishing licence is required and can be obtained in Bariloche.
Outdoor Adventure in the Lake District
The well-known route traversing the Lake District is called “Ruta de 7 Lagos”, or “Seven Lakes Route”. It consists of the unpaved road RP 234 between the towns of Villa la Angostura and San Martín de los Andes. It leads through some stunning scenery of lakes and forests. There is a bus connection between the towns and from both places excursions can be arranged to visit the area.
But the Seven Lakes Route, like the entire Lake District, is by far and large the most interesting when visited independently. Rent a car, or mountain bike, in either Bariloche or San Martín de los Andes and explore the scenic route without others deciding where or when to stop. The Lake District region is perfect for camping. Please remember that nature doesn’t like garbage nor other remnants of visitors – if you take stuff in, don’t forget to take it out as well.
Adventure Travel in the Lake District around San Martín de los Andes
For travelers equipped with camping gear or camper there are many possibilities to get away from the Lake District’s beaten track and to explore some areas of untamed wilderness. West of San Martín de los Andes lies a region that is largely inhabited by Mapuches [Indian tribe]. They live on raising sheep and goats as well as on tourism. One of the area’s attractions is the unpaved route from San Martín de los Andes to the Chilean border of Lago Pirihueico, which is one of the lesser-travelled roads.
Small sidetracks lead deep into the forest [four-wheel-drive required] and lead to the ultimate bush camping spots. Camping, swimming, hiking and fishing are some of the possible outdoor adventures. When in luck, the traveler may even discover a hidden, unexploited hot spring.
Outdoor Adventure in the Northern Part of the Lake District
Not much visited but definitely part of the Lake District, and arguably the most beautiful area, are the lakes north of Junín de los Andes, like Lago Tromen, Lago Quillén and Lago Norquinco. The main attraction of Lago Norquinco is trout fishing.
Follow the narrow, sandy tracks around the lakes, park the car and go for hikes around the lakes or a refreshing swim in one of the glacially formed lakes. These are the ultimate spots for lovers of fishing as well as bush camping.
It’s only because of human interference that the Lake District was split into two: one part belonging to Argentina and the other to Chile, when the boundary line was drawn on the map about two hundred years ago. On the other side of the Andes Mountains, Chile’s Lake District has just as much to offer. For those travelling by private or rented vehicle, Resources for Travel in Argentina may provide practical information on road maps and traffic rules in Argentina.