Northern Patagonia – Lakes, mountains and volcanoes

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We have been in the Lakes District for about a week now. One day we went up the teleferico to Cerro Otto and walked back down to town along a dusty but scenic route, stopping at a Refugio for some sustenance of beer and pizza.

The next day we did a boat trip out on Lago Nahuel Huapi (this huge lake vies with the surrounding Andes mountains for dominance of the area) to Isla Victoria and to the Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes. On a peninsula that sticks out into the lake from Villa la Angostura is the national park containing a ‘Bosque’ or forest of the cinnamon-barked Arrayán trees.

It’s a fairly touristy exercise being shepherded off and on the boat and the trails, but worthwhile to see these beautiful indigenous trees. And our Guide from Turisur, the company we did the day trip through, was so knowledgable and friendly.

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I twisted my knee going down the narrow stairs of the boat and although the damage was only muscle and ligament strain, it was enough to scuttle our plans for a hike up Cathedral Mountain for an overnight stay at Refugio Frey.

So we decided to adjust plans and instead rent a car to drive the 110 kilometer long Camino de Los Siete Lagos, or the route of the seven lakes, which takes you past the town of Villa la Angostura and on to San Martin de los Andes.

We stayed two nights in San Martin so we could spend the day in between to drive another 110 kilometers to Parque Nacional Lanin. Half of the drive before you get there, you can see the snow-covered peak of the volcano Lanin on the horizon as you round bends in the road. It’s possible to ascend the volcano, but my leg was just healing after a few rest days, so we took it a bit easier and just walked 45 minutes to the base then back.

On the way north we originally missed the turnoff and ended up 30 kilometers north and a bit west towards the Chilean border. The drive was beautiful though so maybe we will have to come back and, with a better rental car, do a longer driving trip in the far northern reaches of the Lakes District.

I think my strained muscle is all healed so we will do a local hike tomorrow. The more serious stuff will have to wait for our next stop – El Chaltén. We fly south on Friday.

Meanwhile, below is an image gallery of some of the beautiful places we have seen over the last week around Bariloche and to the north. Click any image to start a slide show.

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