The Bariloche region, in the North of Argentina’s Lake District (Patagonia), is the most frequently visited region. The landscape is one of pretty lakeside towns and mountains. Trekking, fishing, horseback riding, rafting, and other outdoor activities are popular in the summer months, while in the winter months Bariloche is one of South America’s best ski resorts. There are flights to Argentina’s capital city Buenos Aires, in addition to flights further south in Argentina. Bariloche is also a gateway for travel into Chile – LAN has flights to Santiago, or the alternative is the scenic lake crossing to Puerto Montt in Chile’s Lake District. Most travelers agree that Argentina’s Patagonia is more beautiful than Chile’s Patagonia region.
Bariloche is a tourist-orientated town in Argentina’s Patagonia. If you’re looking for cheap accommodation, stay in the town itself, but it’s far more pleasant if you can afford to stay at a lakeside hotel or rental property just outside of Bariloche itself. Local tour operators offer various boat and catamaran trips, the Puerto Blest tour being one of the best. Other tours in Bariloche include trips to glaciers, railway journey trips, scenic drives, in addition to the many excellent nearby hikes. As for luxury hotels in Bariloche, the Llao Llao hotel is the most famous – it has a spectacularly beautiful lakeside location, but it is a large resort (the Llao Llao is one of Argentina’s most famous hotels). Other hotels in Bariloche include Pire-Hue (more of a ski resort hotel), the boutique-style Aldebaran, Edelweiss Hotel and the Tunquelen which feels more secluded than the neighboring Lla Llao. The Design Suites is an alternative small boutique hotel in Bariloche.
Villa La Angostura
The beautiful lakeside town of Villa la Angostura, 80km Northwest of Bariloche, is a holiday resort popular with wealthy Argentinians. There are various nearby trekking opportunities, lovely lakeside drives and catamaran trips in the nearby Nahuel Huapi National Park. There are numerous hotels in Villa la Angostura, but if you want something distinctly upmarket, Las Balsas is one of Argentina’s best hotels (though standard rooms are quite small).
San Martin de Los Andes
San Martin de Los Andes is an upmarket and picturesque tourist town. The area is good for watersports, sailing, mountain biking and there’s beautiful mountain scenery great for trekking. There are also thermal pools at nearby Termas de Lahuen-Co. San Martin de Los Andes is particularly popular for horseriding tours in Argentina. The airport has flights (but not every day) to Buenos Aires. Travel overland to Temuco in Chile, or south to Bariloche (4 hours). Excellent luxury hotels in San Martin de los Andes include La Casa de Eugenia, Las Lengas, La Cheminee, Hostal del Esquiador, and Del Viejo Esquiador.
Travel South from Bariloche
To the south of Bariloche, the region is more wildly remote – Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid lived in this part of Argentina. The more visited towns are of Esquel and El Bolson. El Bolson has a quite magical setting and is somewhat of a hippy town; Cholila is a further 70km South from El Bolson as is a fine base for fishing and river kayaking; 300km South of Bariloche is Esquel, which has a pioneer feel to it has great trekking in nearby Los Alerces National Park; 25km southwest of Esquel is the welsh village of Trevellin, with fine chapels and plazas. There’s also excellent rafting at Rio Manso and fantastic trekking at Pampa Linda, both of which are a little south of Bariloche.