San Carlos de Bariloche is located on the northwest corner of Patagonia on the shores of the Lake Nahuel Huapi and surrounded by Andes peaks, glacial lakes and ancient volcanoes. It is by far the most visited destination in Patagonia with offerings that cover the four seasons.
It is distant from Buenos Aires, 1060 miles, but connected with at least 4 daily flights that last slightly over 2 hours. The city is at a 2800 foot elevation above sea level with colorful panoramic surroundings that vary according to the time of year, with each season offering its own special surprise: sheer green in summer, ochre and yellow in autumn, multicolor in spring and stunning white in winter.
There is a full range of accommodations and shops in Bariloche, where the lifestyle blends the best features of big city and small village life. Bariloche is a melting pot of cultures, where the area’s native past, European culture and provincial customs converge. Its history is on show for all at the Patagonia Museum, overlooking the main square in the Civic Centre.
There are a large number of events on Bariloche’s festival calendar. Some of the most outstanding are the traditional Snow Festival, involving sports competitions on Mount Catedral, a display of torch-bearing skiers swooping down the slopes in the evening, a fireworks display, a wood-chopping competition and the Snow Queen beauty pageant. Another typical event is the Navidad Coral Christmas concert, where the local children’s choir sings Christmas songs at the Bariloche Cathedral. Other events are the Wild Rose Festival (Fiesta de la Rosa Mosqueta), the European-Argentine and Latin American Community Festivals, and the National Curanto Festival celebrated in Colonia Suiza.
Most sightseeing tours revolve at the Nahuel Huapi National Park with its variety of destinations such as Puerto Blest, Seven Lakes, Tronador Mountain, Victoria Island, Arrayanes Woods, and others. You could add excitement to a sightseeing tour by trekking, rafting, skiing, horseback riding or countless other outdoor activities. And, of course, Bariloche also offers the tourist a number of pubs, snack bars, restaurants and discos open daily year-round.
Bariloche offers a wide variety of local handcrafts as well as a flea market featuring local artisans. Chocolates and smoked foods are a staple as well. In addition, there is an almost endless variety of products ranging from beer, to natural cosmetics made from wild rosehips and lavender, pottery, candles, knitted garments, preserves and carved wood that have earned international fame.
The Nahuel Huapi National Park and Reserve covers a total area of about 710,000 hectares. It was created in 1934 to protect representative natural environments in the Andean region of north Patagonia, provide opportunities for recreation and tourism, and establish a veritable natural laboratory for scientific research. Some of its most outstanding features are the lakes and fast-flowing rivers fed by snowmelt and plentiful rainfall, whose waters ultimately flow into the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.
Lake Nahuel Huapi is the largest in the area, with a surface area of 600,000 hectares. It has several arms, such as Ultima Esperanza, Rincón, Blest, Tristeza and Angostura, among others, and large peninsulas of extraordinary beauty, such as Llao-Llao, Quetrihué, San Pedro and Huemul.
The Nahuel Huapi area has a legacy of different histories, cultures and ethnic groups. Its original inhabitants included Tehuelches (hunter-gatherers), Puelches (lakeside dwellers) and Araucano groups (agricultural). The aboriginal population witnessed the arrival of white men from Chile during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, as members of Jesuit Missions, slave raids and military incursions, or as travelers. In the end, the Conquista del Desierto — Desert Conquest, the major civic war in Argentinean history — led by General Julio Argentino Roca in 1883, disbanded the native groups which lacked cohesion at the time and could only attempt to defend themselves, thus strengthening white man’s presence in the region.
The first Argentinean to reach the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi was Francisco Pascasio Moreno in 1875. He became friend, as well as prisoner, of Cacique Sayhueque, the legendary chief of the “Apple Country.” Moreno traveled the whole area on successive journeys, and his work was to become essential to Argentina and Patagonia, as it was decisive in determining the frontier with Chile.
In return for his work, the government awarded Moreno lands, which he went on to donate in 1903 for the creation of Argentina’s first national park: Parque Nacional del Sur, later renamed Nahuel Huapi. Colonia San Carlos, known today as San Carlos de Bariloche, was founded in 1902.
After the creation of the Nahuel Huapi National Park and the arrival of the railway in 1934, the farming activity that had prospered at the beginning of the 20th century was left aside, and tourism began to develop. Today, Bariloche reflects a mixture of old indigenous cultures with a significant European influence.
The Nahuel Huapi National Park is situated within continental cold with a dry season zone. Neither the temperatures nor the precipitation are uniform in the area occupied by the Park. A significant variation in rainfall occurs from east to west, between the border with Chile a microclimate rainfall and the opposite extreme a semi-dessert climate. On the other hand, temperatures decrease as we move uphill with winter average temperatures of 32ºF and summers of 60ºF.
"Small Circuit" is a scenic route along which you will enjoy both the scenery and the flavors. There are beautiful views all the way, which you can stop to admire at several points and natural lookouts such as Bahia Lopez (Lopez Bay) and Punto Panorámico (Panoramic Point). We include the tickets to the chairlift that carries you up to the top of Mount Campanario with its wonderful bird's-eye view of the area. Several teahouses and restaurants offer delicious meals and snacks to add flavor to the tour. Hotel Llao Llao, San Eduardo Chapel and the harbor called Puerto Pañuelo are special attractions, as well as the traditional Colonia Suiza village. You could also buy knitted goods, candles and a variety of other handcrafts, or take a peaceful walk through the woods along easy footpaths in the Llao Llao Municipal Park.
This picturesque village is only 8 miles from downtown Bariloche and about 3800 Feet A.S.L. Catedral is the largest Ski Centre in the Southern Hemisphere, offering a wide range of winter sports facilities and fantastic scenery. There are various ski lifts and cable cars, open all year round. Hotels, restaurants and a variety of shops will satisfy the tastes and needs of the large number of tourists who visit the area each year. In summer, you can take part in different outdoor activities to fully enjoy the natural surroundings on the wooded slopes of Mount Catedral and the best panoramic from the top. We include Funicular tickets to get to the restaurant on the top.
We invite you explore the Southwest point in the National Park! We drive south out of Bariloche along Route 258, following the shoreline of lakes Gutiérrez and Mascardi. After 20 miles, we bear west on a gravel road towards the bridge over Manso River. We first visit Los Alerces Cascade a highlight of this tour. At Manso River bridge, follow the road skirting Lake Los Moscos all the way to Lake Hess. A few meters further on, the road comes to an end and a footpath leads 300 meters to Los Alerces Cascade, astonishing! Afterwards, we continue onto the foot of Mount Tronador, across Pampa Linda to the lookout at the Manso River glacier, better known as Ventisquero Negro (Black glacier). The black glacier is a huge mass of moving ice that has its source in the snow cap accumulated in the mountain crest and upper slopes. It name is due to the dark color it gets from enormous concentrations of sand, stone and dust that is dragged as it slides down slope. This is the departing point for horseback riding or trekking excursions. Next, we stop at the camp area with a restaurant and coffee shop at the base of the mountain. Nearby there is a very cute lodge with a gourmet restaurant and coffee shop. From this point you could observe (with clear skies) the three peaks of the Tronador Mountain, and while you are trekking, you may hear thunderous noises (Tronador means "that thunders") from the falls of ice and avalanches on the peaks that echo all over the valley. After some leisure time, return to the hotel.
Drive north out of Bariloche along Route 237, following the shoreline of Lake Nahuel Huapi to Villa La Angostura, in Neuquen Province. Then drive on through forests along the Ruta de los Siete Lagos (Seven Lakes Route), past Lakes Espejo, Correntoso, Escondido, Villarino, Falkner and Machónico, to Lake Lácar and the town of San Martín de los Andes, standing on its shore. Visit the Chapelco tourist complex, Quila Quina and Catitre beaches, and the Arrayanes drive, affording a beautiful view of the city and lake. Return by driving past Lake Meliquina, through Paso Córdova, following Traful River till it flows into Limay River in Valle Encantado (Enchanted Valley).
The tour begins at Puerto Pañuelo, the harbour located 25 km out of town, opposite Hotel Llao Llao. You can get there by bus or drive your own car. The boat sails over Lake Nahuel Huapi for 30 minutes to Puerto Anchorena at the island's narrow central area. A comfortable chairlift carries you up to the top of Cerro Bella Vista, from which there is a panoramic view of Bahía Anchorena, and further away, the entire Llao Llao and Puerto Pañuelo area. Alternatively, walk to Puerto Gross or visit the cave paintings and Playa del Toro. Back on the boat, you will sail to the Arrayanes forest, located on Peninsula Quetrihué. A 600 meter path leads through the forest to pure stand of magnificent Arrayán trees, considered unique in the world.
Set sail from Puerto Pañuelo to the Blest arm of Lake Nahuel Huapi. On the way, the boat passes Centinela Island, where Fransisco P. Moreno, creator of Argentine National Parks, is buried. An hour later, the boat reaches Puerto Cántaros. A footpath leads through the Valdivian rain forest and climbs up to Lake Los Cántaros, whose waters feed the cascade. Several lookouts along the path offer vantage points from which to admire the beauty of the falls. Then the boat crosses to the opposite shore, across the bay, and passengers disembark for lunch at Puerto Blest. A bus drives 3 km to Puerto Alegre, and passengers take a boat across Lake Frías to Puerto Frías. From here, the international lake crossing to Chile starts, which can be booked in advance, onto Peulla or Puerto Montt after crossing glacial lakes, mountains and volcanoes.