Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi

Nahuel Huapi is the national park you're most likely to visit since Bariloche is right at its heart. It stretches along the Andes for over 130 km, from south of Lago Mascardi to north of Villa Traful, and so there are no official entry points, like most of the other national parks. It was Argentina's first ever national park, created in 1934, from a donation made to the country by naturalist Francisco 'Perito' Moreno of 7500 ha of land around Puerto Blest. Extending across some of Argentina's most dramatic mountains, the park contains lakes, rivers, glaciers, waterfalls, torrents, rapids, valleys, forest, bare mountains and snow-clad peaks. Among those you can climb are Tronador (3478 m), Catedral Sur (2388 m), Falkner (2350 m), Cuyín Manzano (2220 m), López (2076 m), Otto (1405 m) and Campanario (1052 m). The outstanding feature is the splendour of the lakes, and the pristine nature of the virgin forests. For more information, see www.nahuelhuapi.gov.ar.

Ins and outs

There are many centres within the park, at Villa la Angostura and at Villa Traful, for example. But Bariloche is the usual first port of call for activities within the park, and here you can equip yourself with information on transport, walks and maps. Good information on walks, refugios and buses, and great maps, are available from the trained guides and mountaineers at Club Andino Bariloche www.clubandino.org.


You can also contact the Association of Guides, all of whom are trained, and know the geography, flora and fauna. Ask for English speakers. They sell excellent maps showing walks, with average walking times, and refugios, and can advise on which have room. Ask for the Sendas y Bosques (walks and forests) series, which are 1:200,000, laminated and easy to read, with good books containing English summaries of the walks, www.guia sendasybosques.com.ar, the Active Patagoniamap, with fabulous detail, and the Carta de Refugios, Senderos y Picadas for Bariloche.

Flora and fauna

Vegetation varies with altitude and climate, but you're most likely to see large expanses of southern beech forest - the magnificent coihue trees (small-leaved evergreen beeches) - many over 450 years old, and near the Chilean border where rainfall is highest, there are areas of magnificent virgin rainforest. Here you will see an alerces tree over 1500 years old, with the ancient species of bamboo cane caña colihuegrowing everywhere. Eastern parts of the park are more steppe-like with arid land, supporting only low shrubs and bushes. Wildlife includes the small pudú deer, the endangered huemul and river otter, as well as foxes, cougars and guanacos. Among the birds, scarlet-headed Magellan wood- peckers and green austral parakeets are easily spotted as well as large flocks of swans, geese and ducks.

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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