North of Bariloche and Seven Lakes Drive

The journey north from Bariloche along the celebrated Seven Lakes Drive is a magical experience: a winding road through a wonderland of lakes embedded in forest-covered mountains. On the way to picturesque San Martín de los Andes, there are two good bases for further adventures. First, on the northern side of Lake Nahuel Huapi, is the pretty, upmarket town of Villa la Angostura. Much loved by wealthier Argentines, there's no shortage of smart places to stay and eat, such as famous and blissful boutique hotel, Las Balsas (www.lasbalsas.com). From Villa la Angostura you can visit the tiny national park, Los Arrayanes, created to protect a rare forest of arrayán trees with their cinnamon-coloured bark, and twisting trunks: a fairy-tale woodland where you can walk or take a boat. Further along the Seven Lakes Drive, is another more remote village, Villa Traful. Tucked into a deep fold between dramatic, spired mountains, on the side of a navy blue sliver of lake, this is a peaceful place for a few days' rest, with a couple of good walks and some appealing places to stay.

Drive up through ever-changing combinations of lakes and mountains to find San Martín de los Andes sitting proudly at the head of Lake Lacar. No shortage of chalet-style
cabañas
here, this is a very comfortable base for exploring another fine national park, Lanín, whose conical volcano is visible for miles around, and which you can climb if you have a few days free. It's well worth hiring a car here to explore the park in detail, especially Lagos Huachulafquen and Paimun. Junín de los Andes makes an alternative base for lovers of fishing; it is the fishing capital of Argentina. Estancia Huechahue (www.huechahue.com) is nearby, with superb horse riding into the park and across the Andes to Chile. Heading further north still, you'll come eventually to Villa Pehuenia, a fledgling village in a spectacular setting on Lake Aluminé, with some superb accommodation and its own
resident Mapuche community who will take you riding and skiing in season. Sleepier Lake Moquehue
is a great place to hang out and do nothing. For more information, see www.interpatagonia.com/ loslagos (in English).

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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