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Northern Lake District

April 8, 2013

Insurance paid, beer drunk, we left El Bolson and drove the short distance to Bariloche. This is the most touristy town in the lake district – possibly Argentina. We arrived here a few days into March to find that the summer season was well and truly over. This meant that all the campsites close to town had packed up for the winter (although the sun was still out) and the closest we could find was Camping Petunia which was a good 15km from town.

View from Bariloche Campsite

Fortunately Camping Petunia was really nice with its own beach , a lovely view of the lake and an easy bus ride away from town with the bus stop right outside the campsite.

We hadn’t been out for dinner for ages so we were determined to head into town do some sightseeing and finish off with a good steak!

Bariloche Building

The centre of the town has some interesting buildings and a big cathedral but it doesn’t take long to see all the sights.  There are hundreds of chocolate shops here so of course our ‘sight-seeing’ led us into one or two of these to sample their wares.  One of the tourist features are the big St. Bernard dogs which were beautiful but we didn’t stop to have our picture taken with them.

Bariloche Cathedral

Sightseeing taken care of we rested our weary legs and refreshed our parched mouths in ‘The Vikings’, a very nice bar just down the road from the restaurant we planned to visit for dinner, on advice from our motorbiking friends Ben & Eveline (

Los Vikingos Pub

The restaurant is called  Alto y Fuego and is also No.1 on Tripadvisor.  Well, they weren’t wrong, dinner was fantastic, great value and in a modern convivial setting with good service. The steaks we had were perfectly cooked, juicy and incredibly tender – highly recommended!

Alto y Fuego Steak

Perfectly Cooked

Overdosing on steak wasn’t enough and we left Alto y Fuego and headed to one of Bariloche’s many ice cream shops for a pudding.

Great Bariloche Ice Cream

Needless to say the next day we had tiny hangovers so decided to spend the day on the beach and hanging out in the sun.

Lago Falkner

Not ones to hang around too long we were soon on our way again to San Martin de Los Andes. The route between the two towns is known as the seven lakes route and threads its way (surprisingly) through 7 lakes in a National Park called Nahuel-Haupi.

Campsite view in Nahuel-Huapi NP

Campsite view in Nahuel-Huapi NP

This route is in the process of being paved but for now the second half is a little rough. It is a very scenic drive and just over halfway we found a beautiful lakeside location for a night of free camping.

San Martin de Los Andes Beach

San Martin de Los Andes Beach

San Martin de Los Andes is a lot like a scaled down version of Bariloche. It sits right on a lake with a lovely beach and has an alpine feel to it, albeit on a much smaller scale. Its also got a campsite right at the edge of town. This was definitely our favourite Lake District town, much quieter and more relaxed than bustling Bariloche.

Volcan Lanin

Volcan Lanin

Moving on from San Martin we headed up the road to the stunning Lanin National Park. The road into the park is unpaved and not the greatest but as you drive in up the shore of Lago Huechulafquen (no idea how to pronounce it!) the views just get better and better. For us the grey overcast morning gradually improved into perfectly blue skies with views of the massive snow-capped Volcan Lanin.

Lanin Volcano

As we drove into the park we came across a local Mapuche Indian guy whose clapped out old car had a flat tyre. We stopped to help and tried to inflate the tyre with our compressor hose but it was completely gone.  He brought out his spare, but this was also flat!  It held air though so he just needed to change the wheel and he’d be on his way, thing is you kind of need a jack for this – we lent him ours.  Of course you also need to be able to undo the nuts… we lent him our wrench.  Eventually he was back on the road and we were left clearing up all our tools for 10 minutes at the side of the road!  We were gifted a bag of Pinones though in thanks (though we still haven’t worked out how to cook them!).

Gaucho Rescue in Lanin NP

After stopping for lunch next to a little lakeside church we carried on into the park and found a lakeside campsite at the start of a lovely waterfall walk.

Church in Lanin NP

We spent the afternoon walking to a 25m waterfall (Cascada el Saltillo) in some lovely woods with sporadic views of Volcan Lanin.

Cascada el Saltillo

Lanin NP was definitely our favourite bit of the Argentinian Lake District – but of course having good weather helps !

Gaucho Roadblock

On leaving the park we had an unscheduled stop as we came to a tree completely blocking the road. It had just been felled by a team of Mapuche Indians. We thought we’d be in for a bit of wait but it only took these guys about 10 minutes to cut us a path through !

Gaucho Roadblock 20 minutes later

One Comment leave one →
  1. spiddlydiddly permalink
    April 8, 2013 3:37 pm

    Love that picture of the waterfall!

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