After leaving Puyehue National Park in Chile, we immediately entered the next national park on our trip, but this time in Argentina: Nahuel Huapi. We drove over the Cardonal Antonio Samoré Pass (1.314m.) and even though it may sound weird, the landscape seemed to have changed straight away after crossing the border. While on the Chilean side of the border, the mountains were mostly green and covered with lush vegetation, the Argentinean side of the Andes immediately seemed a lot dryer.
Our first stop in Argentina stop was near Cerro Pantojo, an extinct stratovolcano, which completely blew off his top when erupting about a million years ago, which gave it its current significant shape. It reminded me of a … oh well, just decide for yourself.
From here, the road gets a bit worse yet the landscape continues being gorgeous. Soon after descending from the mountain pass, we see the first lake of this area which is also referred to as the Argentinean Lake District. The first lake we pass by is called Lago Espejo. We immediately notice a change as well, it’s much busier here than in Chile, however it may have to do with the sun that’s shining and the fact that we’ve entered one of Argentina’s most touristc areas.
Shortly after we reach Lago Nahuel Huapi, the biggest lake of the area. The name is a Mapuche word and means something like Puma Island. It’s pretty crowded here and we are offered a picture with a giant St. Bernard dog that’s on a leash and supposed to attract tourists. Eh, no thanks!
Soon we enter the town of Villa la Angostura. We expected quite a lot of this but in all honesty, we are a bit disappointed. Houses and hotels in Austrian stly is what we get, plus a ton of tourists and major traffic jams. So all we do is stop for a late lunch and head to an ATM to get our hands on some Argentinean Pesos.
The next bit of the drive down to Bariloche, at the other side of the lake, is gorgeous. The landscape becomes even drier and it’s hard to believe that there’s skiing and all here in wintertime. These kind of roads just ask for loud music and full gas: perfect road trip material!
Upon entering the city of San Carlos de Bariloche, we immediately notice the amazing chaos. The streets are narrow and windy, there are no lanes and people are all over the streets, not paying attention to anybody else than themselves. After driving around for a while we finally find a parking spot large enough for our vehicle and head out to the Club Andino, to inquire about the possibilities to hike up to Otto Meiling hut the day after. After doing some groceries and making our way through the traffic we find our hotel, conveniently located just outside of the city center.
When we walk back downtown to go out for dinner (if you are ever in Bariloche, make sure to go to Manush, best place for dinner, we went two nights in a row because of the awesome food and pub-style atmosphere!) we are treated on the most gorgeous sunset ever. The sky colors orange and pink at the same time. A very nice welcome in Argentina indeed…
Next up: hiking to Refugio Otto Meiling and it’s surrounding glaciers!
Want to read more? Go to our Patagonian Roadtrip or any of the following links:
– 5 Things you can’t miss when in Argentina
– Things to do on a rainy day in Ushuaia
– Mountainous Monday: Cerro de los Siete Colores
Thanks for sharing!