Patagonia’s Northern Lake District: Sapphire Lakes and Snow-Covered Peaks of the Andes

Moreno and Nahuel Huapi Lakes, Bariloche, Argentina | Photo: Eddy Ancinas

Moreno and Nahuel Huapi Lakes, Bariloche, Argentina | Photo: Eddy Ancinas


From hundreds of sapphire lakes in the foothills of the Andes to the booming vacation town of Bariloche, the Northern Lake District of Patagonia is an enchanting traveler’s dream.  

An excerpt from Eddy Ancinas’ description in Fodor’s Patagonia Guide: Argentina’s Lake District

Hundreds of sapphire lakes lie hidden amidst the snow-covered peaks of the Andes on the western frontier with Chile, in what has become the most popular tourist area in Patagonia—the Northern Lake District. Bariloche is becoming the booming vacation town in the center of it all.

Parque National Laní­n, in Neuquí©n Province, and the neighboring Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, in Rí­o Negro Province, add up to 2.5 million acres of natural preserve. South of Bariloche and the Cholila Valley and northwest of Esquel, the Parque Nacional los Alerces, named for its 2,000-year-old alerce trees, covers 2,630 square km (1,015 square mi) of mountains, forests, and lakes, with only one dirt road leading into it.

Outdoor activities and a wide variety of lodgings in extraordinary settings attract visitors year-round. In winter, skiers come to Cerro Catedral for its size and terrain, superb setting overlooking Nahuel Huapi Lake, and its proximity to Bariloche. Smaller areas such as Chapelco in San Martí­n de los andes, La Hoya in Esquel, and Cerro Bayo in Villa La Angostrua attract mostly Argentines, and lots of Brazilians.

In spring, ribbons of pink and purple lupine line the roads and fill the mountain meadows along the Seven Lakes Route or Route 40 south to Esquel. Hikers and horseback riders will discover waterfalls cascading from mountaintops into deep, dark canyons. From November to March, fishing enthusiasts reel in the swollen rivers, alive with feisty trout or salmon.

Welsh farmers have grown wheat and raised sheep and cattle on the vast open plains and valleys of Chubut since 1865, and many of their descendant continue to live and work on the land, while preserving their Welsh culture in music, food, and architecture.

See more of Eddy’s Tips and Trips on Patagonia

Cheap Hotels in Million $$ Locations: Lago Traf úl (Patagonia)

Lago Traful, Patagonia/Eddy Ancinas

Lago Traf úl, Patagonia/Eddy Ancinas

Lago Traf úl is one of the forty + lakes that sparkle like sapphires in the lake region of northern Patagonia, but this lake is special.

One small village (Villa Traf úl pop. 500), a dirt road around one side and nothing else but blue, blue water. Stay here a week or a year and fish, hike, explore and gaze at the stars.

Eat with the locals at Nancu Lahuen. Sleep in a campground or the Marinas Puerto Traf úl.

You can arrive by car or bus from Bariloche on the 7 Lakes route via Villa Angostura, or on RP65 from Confluencia.

Cheap Hotels in Million $$ Locations: Tronadí³r, Patagonia

Mt. Tronador (Thunder Mountain) 11,453 ft. Patagonia/Eddy Ancinas

Mt. Tronador (Thunder Mountain) 11,453 ft. Patagonia/Eddy Ancinas

Hotel Tronadí³r, situated on the western shore of Lago Mascardi, is the base lodge or excursions to Mt Tronadí³r, which straddles the border with Chile at 11,453 ft.—the highest mountain in Argentina’s Lake Region.


Hotel Tronador/Eddy Ancinas

Hotel Tronadí³r/Eddy Ancinas

Easy hikes to nearby waterfalls, mountain biking, horseback riding adn more serious hikes up to the glaciers can keep an active outdoor enthusiast entertained for a week.

With 30 rooms and 7 apartments, all means and 50% discounts for children 1-8.

This is a good family destination.

Closed all May. No credit cards.

Cheap Hotels in Million $$ Locations: Lago Guitierrez, Patagonia

Hostaria El Retorno, Lago Guitierrez/Eddy Ancinas

Hostaria El Retorno, Lago Guitierrez/Eddy Ancinas

Just 20 minutes west of Bariloche, the Hostaria El Retorno looks across the lawn and through the wood to lovely Lago Gutierrez, where kayaks are available, and mountain bikes can take you around the lake or UP UP to the ski area at Catedral. A better option is DOWN from the parking lot through forests of coiyhue trees right to the beach. This is also the back road from the ski area in winter.

Arelauken golf resort is not far. and Cassis restaurant is one of the finest in the area.

Closed May.