PATAGONIA ARGENTINA. FIRST PART: BUENOS AIRES – BARILOCHE

This was the route I made on my way south from the Argentine capital to what for many is already the beginning of Patagonia: The Lakes Region. There are several points of interest throughout the tour:

 

  • Buenos Aires

  • Sierra de la Ventana and Ernesto Tornquist Provincial Park

  • Lihué Calel National Park

  • Villa El Chocón

  • Junín de los Andes and Lanín National Park

  • San Martin de los Andes and Seven Lakes Circuit

  • Bariloche and surroundings

Buenos Aires

The Argentine capital is a very beautiful and lively city. In addition, the downtown reminds the Madrid one (architecturally speaking), which will make all madrileños feel at home. There are many events, from plays in theaters to couples dancing tango down the street, and thousands of places to visit. These are some of the coolest: Casa Rosada, Plaza de Mayo (and the obelisk), Florida Avenue, Colón Theater, San Telmo neighborhood, La Boca neighborhood (the cheapest place to stay), Palermo, the National Museum of Fine Arts, the cemetery and Recoleta neighborhood, the Museum of Eva (Evita) Perón, the Botanical Garden, Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve. As a less touristy place, I recommend the ecovillage Velatropa, a few meters from the UBA (University of Buenos Aires).

 

Also, Buenos Aires enjoys a great location to do some excursions to interesting places in the country (like Rosario or La Plata) and in Uruguay (Colonia Sacramento, Montevideo).

Sierra de la Ventana and Ernesto Tornquist Provincial Park

Quiet town in the province of Buenos Aires that rests in a beautiful environment, with a river where you can cool off and on whose banks you can camp and chill out. I will always remember this place with joy because I met some kids (from Pehuajó) with whom I camped for a few days, during which they shared mate with me for the first time in my life and prepared me the first Argentine “asado” (like a barbecue but way better). The main attraction is the Ernesto Tornquist Provincial Park, nearby. Very nice and ideal to do some hiking.

Lihué Calel National Park

Very surprising place. It is literally in the middle of nowhere, in the Argentine Pampa. You can hike some trails through that kind of desert, camp among guanacos, visit the interpretation center/museum, observe rock art... To get out of here there are only two alternatives (at least when I visited the area, 2014): take the bus that runs south around 4-5 in the morning (there is only one); lift your thumb.

Villa El Chocón

Near Neuquén lies this interesting town, where you can go to the Ernesto Bachmann Paleontological Museum, which houses, among others, the most complete fossil of the largest carnivorous dinosaur in the world: the Giganotosaurus carolinii. Awesome. In addition, there rests one of the largest artificial lakes on the planet, the Ezequiel Ramos Mexía Reservoir.

Junín de los Andes and Lanín National Park

Here is one of my favorite places in all of Argentina. A few km from this charming town of Neuquén province nestled in the mountains is this National Park full of magic that bears the name of the highest volcano that inhabits it. There are many excursions, from climbing the Lanín volcano to hikes through forests, leaving rivers and waterfalls in the way. More beautiful impossible, with many camping and hiking options.

San Martin de los Andes and Seven Lakes Route

Small town very clean and well cared, with attractions in the city itself and the surroundings. For example, the Che Museum (the Pastera Museum). From here begins the route of the Seven Lakes, in which there are actually more, each more beautiful than the previous one. By order: Lácar (at the feet of San Martín de los Andes), Machónico, Falkner, Villarino, Escondido, Correntoso, Espejo, Nahuel Huapi. The latter “bathes” the populations of Villa la Angostura and Bariloche. Apart from those, which are on the main route, you can go to other lakes taking small detours, such as the Hermoso or the Espejo Chico. In addition, an interesting town to keep in mind to visit is Villa Traful. Take your time to explore the whole area, it is worth it. The route ends at Villa la Angostura, a charming tourist town where, in addition to cool off in the Nahuel Huapi Lake, you can taste the best ice cream on Earth! Try cafayate, tomato, wine and many other flavors that you did not even know existed.

Bariloche and surroundings

A thousand plans await you in Bariloche (province of Río Negro). It is a well-known destination both in the winter season (lovers of skiing) and in summer. The town rests on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi, in the Nahuel Huapi National Park, enjoying many places worth visiting nearby. For example: Los Arrayanes National Park, a forest of a unique tree species (the arrayán); the Route of the Seven Lakes, Villa Traful and Villa la Angostura; Cerro Tronador and El Ventisquero Negro, a glacier; Cerro Catedral, a huge ski center... And many more you will discover in your visit.

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