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Overview

In and around the city of San Carlos de Bariloche, along the eastern edge of the Andes, lush forests of conifers and hardwoods cover the lower slopes of an Andean range that rises above strings of finger lakes left by Pleistocene glaciers. Here, in the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro and Chubut, Argentina's national park system began with a land grant donation by explorer and scientist Francisco P. Moreno, which created a precedent. Bariloche has benefitted from the presence of Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, but so have San Martín de los Andes with Parque Nacional Lanín and Esquel with Parque Nacional Los Alerces. A long-distance footpath, ...

In and around the city of San Carlos de Bariloche, along the eastern edge of the Andes, lush forests of conifers and hardwoods cover the lower slopes of an Andean range that rises above strings of finger lakes left by Pleistocene glaciers. Here, in the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro and Chubut, Argentina's national park system began with a land grant donation by explorer and scientist Francisco P. Moreno, which created a precedent. Bariloche has benefitted from the presence of Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, but so have San Martín de los Andes with Parque Nacional Lanín and Esquel with Parque Nacional Los Alerces. A long-distance footpath, the Huella Andina, now connects Lanín in the north with Los Alerces in the south.

The parks aren't the region's only attractions, though. The hamlet of El Bolsón, about 60 miles south of Bariloche, is an anachronistic but appealing outpost of 1960s counterculture, with its colorful street fair and craft-brewed beers. Villa la Angostura, on the north shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi, is an attractive resort town that is now recovered from a 2011 ash fall from Chile's Puyehue-Caulle volcanic complex. Esquel, for its part, can also boast La Trochita, the narrow-gauge railway that lent its title to Paul Theroux's famous travelogue "The Old Patagonian Express."

Northerly Neuquén, while it doesn't have the same scenic resources that areas farther south do, does contain a major paleontological site at Lago Los Barreales, where visitors can see dinosaur fossils in situ.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Wayne Bernhardson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Patagonia is a region located at the southern end of South America, territory shared by Argentina and Chile, boasting some of the most dramatic landscapes on Earth.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Argentine Peso
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    South American summer, but the shoulder months of November-December and March-April are less crowded. Skiers throng here from late June to early December.