This winter, head below the equator and revisit summer, taking advantage of the glorious vastness of Patagonia, with particular focus on Argentina’s most coveted ski destination, Bariloche. Throughout the summertime (December-February), Bariloche is less crowded and just as beautiful, replacing the white blankets of snow with vibrant colors of plant life. Getting to Bariloche is as easy as taking a direct flight in, but taking the long way there can prove to be adventuresome, making your end goal more rewarding.
The Andean Lake Crossing
Throughout history, locals as well as explorers have been crossing the Andean lakes, which are shared by Chile and Argentina. To experience your own lake crossing in a day, fly into Santiago, Chile and take a connection flight to Puerto Montt Airport. From the airport, take a taxi to Puerto Varas, a small Chilean town. An overnight here is recommended as the actual lake crossing requires a full day and is best started in the early morning. Las Cumbres Hotel is conveniently located in Puerto Varas and serves as a great starting point for the journey.
In the morning, depart from the hotel and transfer to Petrohué and drive along the shore of Lake Llanquihue, passing through the small town of Ensenada before reaching Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. Make a brief stop for a visit to the famous Petrohué Falls, which are accessible via a walking trail that leads to a viewpoint that overlooks the rapids and waterfalls, which were formed long ago by cooling volcanic lava.
Continue to the Hotel Petrohué on the shore of Todos Los Santos Lake. At the Petrohué Pier, board a catamaran to travel across the lake, also known as the Emerald Lake due to its deep green colors. During the crossing, enjoy the magnificent view of the Osorno, Puntiagudo and Tronador volcanoes. Upon arrival at Peulla, take a short walk to stretch your legs before continuing the trip through the beautiful Andean rainforest, at an elevation of 2,900 ft. above sea level, by bus to Puerto Frias. The bus will stop for immigration at the border crossing. Then, continue by boarding a ferry across Lake Frias to the village of Puerto Alegre. Once there, continue overland to Puerto Blest and then board a modern catamaran to cross Lake Nahuel Huapi to Puerto Pañuelo. From there, take a bus to complete the final leg of the journey to Bariloche, Argentina’s prime mountain resort.
Small Circuit Tour
Exploring Bariloche and neighboring parts is made easier in the summertime as there isn’t any snow to battle. Depart from the hotel and drive the scenic road along Nahuel Huapi Lake. At Playa Bonita, five miles outside of Bariloche, stop for a view of Huemul Island. Continue on to the next stop at the base of Campanario Hill to board a chair lift for incredibly picturesque views.
Continue through the Llao LLao Peninsula and then cross the Angostura Bridge that connects Moreno and Nahuel Huapi lakes. The next panoramic lookout boasts great views of the lake and peninsula. To return, cross the bridge over Moreno Lake and continue along the Trébol Lagoon to return to Bariloche.
Bariloche itself has so much to offer all throughout the year, including an abundance of small-batch breweries that are worthy of their own day of sampling. Exiting Bariloche doesn’t require retracing your lake crossing journey…instead a quick flight to Buenos Aires or Santiago will give you a head start on your return home.
Where To Stay
Llao Llao Hotel & Resort, the iconic lakefront property in Bariloche, Argentina in scenic northwestern Patagonia, is comprised of a historic structure in addition to a newer modern wing with updated contemporary rooms and suites. The indoor/outdoor pools are a must as is its afternoon tea and impressive breakfast buffet.