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Plan your visit to Northern Patagonia, with some of the best things to do and places to go in the Argentine Lake District.

It's no secret that the Argentine Lake District offers some of South America's most glorious scenery. But to truly appreciate the natural splendour found here and discover the region's abundant flora and fauna, we recommend undertaking some of the many activities on offer. There is a wide range of things to do in the Argentine Lake District, to suit all interests and fitness levels, so let's look at a cross-section of our favourites.

Hike through one of Argentina's oldest national parks

  • Magnificent alpine scenery and lake views
  • Native trees and colourful flora
  • Choice of hiking routes available

Nahuel Huapi was designated as one of the country's first protected national parks back in the 1930s, encompassing an area of high altitude snow-covered peaks, expansive blue lakes and evergreen Valdivian rainforest. From your base in San Carlos de Bariloche, on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi, a local guide can lead you through the forests on a number of established paths to provide a thorough introduction to the flora and native trees of Northern Patagonia, as well as to reach panoramic viewpoints overlooking the lakes. Within the borders of the park also sits the Llao Llao Municipal Park, an area of splendid natural beauty established in the 1990s by the Llao Lloa resort hotel. On the western side of the park, the powerful Andes mountains provide a natural border with Chile. Among these, Mount Tranador stands tallest, reaching nearly 3,500 metres high.

Things to do in the Argentine Lake District - Nahuel Huapi Lake

Nahuel Huapi Lake from Llao Llao Hotel (photo by David)

Horse ride through the Patagonian Steppe

  • Scenic rides across the plains
  • Spot native mammals and birds
  • Suitable for both beginners and pros 

For beginners or seasoned pros alike, there are few better ways to survey the beauty of the surrounding hills of the Lake District and enjoy the tranquillity of the open valleys than on a full or half day horse ride. Rides are led by experienced experts, on horses trained to cover different types of terrain, through ancient woodland and across the vast Patagonian Steppe, in the shadow of powerful Andean mountain ranges. As well as soaking in the majestic landscapes and enjoying the relaxing ride, you should also keep your eyes peeled for some of the wildlife found here, including red foxes, deer, guanacos and wild horses. Venture close to a lagoon and you might encounter pink flamingos, black-necked swans and upland geese. There is a cultural element to the ride too, introducing you to the ways of life of the people that make their home in Northern Patagonia.

things to do in the Argentine Lake District - horse riding

Horse-riding in the Argentine Lake District

Drive the Seven Lakes Road

  • Magnificent lake views
  • Enjoy the beaches and countryside of San Martin
  • Can be either private day trip or part of self-drive holiday

There are surely few roads as evocatively named as the Seven Lakes Road which winds its way between the small Patagonian towns of Villa la Angostura and San Martin de los Andes. The journey is every bit as scenic as the name suggests, with views of seven of the most picturesque lakes, starting at Lake Espejo and ending at Lake Lacar, via Correntoso, Escondido, Villarino, Falkner and Machónico. Around San Martin there are some beaches on which to relax, as well as the ski resort of Mount Chapelco. You can also combine the road with a tour of the equally enticingly-named Enchanted Valley as part of a private day trip from Bariloche, with a driver and guide. Alternatively you might prefer to self-drive in the Argentine Lake District, undertaking the drive yourself and then enjoying the freedom afforded by the car to explore at your own pace around San Martin, including the spectacular Lanín National Park and volcano.

things to do in the Argentine Lake District - Seven Lakes Road

Seven Lakes Road

Take to the river to fish or raft

  • Fish for trout and salmon using different techniques
  • Excellent rafting opportunities at different difficulty grades
  • An alternative way to experience the Lake District's natural beauty

If hiking through forests, horse-riding through the steppe and driving along the region's roads is not adventurous enough for you, how about taking to the Lake District's Manso River for a spot of catch and release trout fishing or rafting? As well as wonderful hiking opportunities, the Nahuel Huapi National Park has a number of lakes and river systems which provide wonderful spots for fishing. Various techniques are used, such as spinning, fly casting and trolling, to catch salmon and the different varieties of trout found here. These include the widespread rainbow trout, usually found in fast-flowing clear water, as well as brown and brook trout. The season typically runs from November to April. A more adrenaline-fuelled river activity is rafting, which can also be done along the Manso River, with rapids of varying classifications to suit different experience levels. The thrilling rides offer an alternative way to see some of the exuberant forests of the region and connect with the environment.

things to do in the Argentine Lake District - rafting

Rafting on River Manso (photo by Llao Llao Hotel) 

Spot condors and Patagonian birds

  • See a variety of endemic Patagonian birds
  • Watch flamingos gather at lagoons
  • Observe majestic Andean condors up close

It's not just the lakes, mountains and forests that comprise the wonderful nature found in the Argentine Lake District, there are also a number of endemic Patagonian birds to be found here. A walk through the woods of the Llao Llao Municipal Park can lead to sightings of many of these, including the thorn-tailed rayadito, white-throated treerunner, black-throated huet-huet, chucao tapaculo, Patagonian tyrant and Patagonian sierra-finch. Elsewhere in the Nahuel Huapi are lagoons which serve as stopping points for hundreds of migrating birds in the summer season, such as flamingos, black-necked swans, coscoroba swans, speckled teal, red gartered coot, and upland geese. Perhaps the most prized sighting though would be that of the majestic Andean Condor. Largely black in colour except for their distinctive white collar, they can be seen soaring through the skies above the high mountain peaks. One of the best places to observe them is from Cerro La Buitera, whose volcanic ash toba rocks proivde a nesting place and shelter for the condor, high above the Patagonian steppe.

things to do in the Argentine Lake District - Birdwatching 

Birds feeding at Lake Nahuel Huapi (photo by Emilio Küffer)


READY - 22 May 2024

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