Lake District

Trek amongst craggy snow-capped peaks flanked by glaciers, and crystalline rivers running through virgin valdivian rainforest to lakes of peppermint green and Prussian blue. Ski down long pistes with panoramic views of lagoons below, or hike for days in a mountain-top nirvana without seeing any sign of civilization. Take a slow boat across fjords or a hair-raising whitewater rafting trip. Or simply step onto the terrace of your lakeside hotel and sip a malbec as the sun sinks over the mountains. Whatever you choose to do, Argentina's Lake District is spectacular and unforgettable.

Bariloche is the best starting point, a friendly but large town in alpine style with chocolate shops, lakeside hotels and chalet-style restaurants selling wild boar and smoked trout. Towering above is a range of peaks where you can hike, ski or cycle. Or just take a cable car and admire the incredible views. Bariloche could easily entertain you for a week. A magical road winds through seven lakes and three national parks to the pretty tourist towns of Villa La Angostura and San Martín de los Andes. Retreat to Lago Huechulafquen, where perfectly conical Volcán Lanín is reflected in cobalt blue waters. North of here, it's wilder and less visited. Pehuenia is a quiet haven with its forests of prehistoric monkey puzzle trees, broad lagoons and the rich culture of the native Mapuche people. At the southern end of the lakes, El Bolsón and Esquel are wonderfully relaxed places for a few days' hiking, where the mountains are magnificent, and the local cervezais excellent. Take the Old Patagonian Express, try a Welsh tea in quaint Trevelin, and then explore the region's most unspoilt national park, Los Alerces. A jade-green river flows between the cinnamon trunks of arrayán trees and 1000-year-old alerce trees tower above you.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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