Travel info for Nahuel Huapi National Park Argentina

The oldest protected area in Argentina


San Carlos de Bariloche R8400, Provincia de Río Negro, Argentina

GPS: -40.998365976089, -71.497479778467

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Nahuel Huapi National Park Argentina is in the Patagonian region of Argentine, at the foot of the Andes Mountains whose peaks form a natural border with Chile. Founded in 1922 and expanded in 1934 in the provinces of Rio Negro and Neuquén, it is the oldest nature reserve in Argentina. This beautiful protected area aims to safeguard the Andean forests and the Patagonian steppe with its varied fauna. It is sometimes referred to as the Argentine Lake District because of its aquatic environment.

With an area of 7,500 km², Nahuel Huapi National Park surrounds the eponymous glacial lake. The northern part of the park is bordered by Los Arrayanes National Park (a Patagonian forest) and Lanín National Park, famous for the size of its trees. This wilderness area has several ecosystems that evolve with the altitude, from 700 metres at its lowest level to almost 3,500 metres high. Water is omnipresent through rivers and lakes, which are largely fed by melting snow and glaciers. Until the 19th century, the region of Nahuel Huapi National Park, the Argentinean Pampas and Eastern Patagonia was inhabited by large communities of indigenous Argentinians, including the Mapuche. Having already resisted the expansionist desires of the Incas, these indigenous people witnessed the arrival of the first Spanish settlers in the 16th century. Their geolocation led to several armed conflicts in an already tense political context between Argentina and Chile over the demarcation of the Andean borders. The Conquest of the Desert, a series of military offensives carried out between 1869 and 1888, resulted in the exclusion of the Mapuche from their ancestral lands by the Argentine government. Despite a recent process of cooperation aimed at integrating indigenous people into the management of the natural resources of Nahuel Huapi National Park, tensions remain between the two parties.

In addition to its network of 500 kilometres of hiking trails, Nahuel Huapi National Park is a land known for a wide variety of activities. It has scenic roads and waterways where diverse landscapes intermingle, high Andean forests, snow-capped peaks, hills, glaciers, high altitude lakes and Patagonian steppes.

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  • The clear waters of the many lakes and rivers of Nahuel Huapi National Park; the contrasting landscapes that vary with altitude
  • The flora (pine forests, Andean forests, tropical forests, Patagonian steppe as well as a wide variety of flowers and ancient trees); the fauna (foxes, monkeys, deer, guanacos, pumas, birds of prey)
  • Cerro Tronador (where the black glacier Ventisquero Negro is located) and the other high mountains (Capilla, López, Campanario, Otto, Bayo and Catedral); the view of the Lanín volcano (dormant since the 17th century)
  • The many lakes of the park (Nahuel Huapi, Guillelmo, Moreno, Gutiérrez, Mascardi, Correntoso, Escondido, Traful and Toncek)
  • The natural site of Valle Encantado (“Enchanted Valley”) and the various rock formations (Cardenal Samore, Castaño Overo, Perez Rosales and Vuriloche); the Llao Llao Peninsula; the Victoria and Centinela Islands; the beaches of Serena Bay; the black sand beaches of Lake Mascardi; the different bays in Villa La Angostura (Manzano, Mansa, Brava and San Patricio)
  • The Garganta del Diablo, Arroyo Blanco and Coa Có waterfalls
  • The several outdoor activities within the park (hiking, cycling, horse riding, fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, sailing, windsurfing, climbing, mountaineering, skiing and boat trips); mountain biking around Cerro Catedral and Lago Gutiérrez; the panoramic viewpoint from Filo Belvedere
  • The Cathedral of Our Lady of Nahuel Huapi (beautiful neo-Gothic building), the Francisco P. Moreno Museum of Patagonia (anthropological curiosities), the Botanic Garden of Isla Victoria (with indigenous species) and the Museum of Geology And Paleontology Dr. Rosendo Pascual (fossils and dinosaur skeletons) in the town of San Carlos de Bariloche
  • The exclusive ski resort of Cerro Catedral (more than 50 ski slopes); the panoramic route of the Road of the Seven Lakes through Nahuel Huapi National Park
  • Argentina was the first country in South America and the third country in the world to legislate for the creation of a natural protected area after the United States (through Yellowstone National Park in 1872) and Canada (with Banff National Park in 1885).
  • Lake Nahuel Huapi owes its name to the aboriginal and Amerindian Araucanian communities (people belonging to the Mapuche ethnic group). This rural and mountainous territory of Northern Patagonia later earned the nickname of Argentine’s Switzerland (or South American Switzerland) because of expeditions led by Europeans in the late 19th century.
  • Before being declared a national park, part of this unknown area belonged to an Argentinean naturalist by the name of Francisco Pascasio Moreno (known as Pepito Moreno). This explorer, who had been at the origin of numerous expeditions to Patagonia, donated his land to the Argentine State in 1903 to preserve its natural resources. In recognition of his work, a glacier, a town and a national park, all located in Patagonia, are named after him.
  • Cattle breeding is one of the main economic activities of the inhabitants of Nahuel Huapi National Park. This activity was developed before the creation of the protected area.
  • Cerro Tronador, with an altitude of 3,500 metres, is an ancient volcano with a total of three peaks and seven glaciers. At its base, its ice has a dark colour due to the deposition of volcanic sediments (this lower part is called Ventisquero Negro). The name of this ancient extinct volcano can be translated as “thunder” (this is explained by the explosive sound caused by ice falling off the glaciers).
  • Since 2007, in association with other reserves and national parks located on both sides of the Argentine-Chilean border, Nahuel Huapi National Park formed a new environmental unit of 22,000 km² called the Andino Norpatagónica Biosphere Reserve.
  • The tourist resorts of San Carlos de Bariloche, Villa La Angostura, San Martín de los Andes or the small village of Villa Traful, are the most popular destinations in the park.
  • If you are planning a long hike to explore Nahuel Huapi National Park, you will need to notify the park services of your itinerary.
  • The city of San Carlos de Bariloche has developed a website dedicated to hiking. This platform provides visitors with maps and advice on 62 trails, making up a 450 kilometres walking network.
  • If you have a vehicle, you can choose the beautiful Road of the Seven Lakes (Camino de los Siete Lagos), which links the north shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi (town of Villa La Angostura) to Lake Lácar (town of San Martín de los Andes). This scenic route follows part of the National Route 234, passing by lakes Correntoso, Espejo, Villarino, Falkner, Hermoso, Machónico and Lácar. The road can be inaccessible in July and August due to snowfall.

Where to eat

  • Ren Vegetariano
    (vegetarian buffet)
  • La Salamandra Pulpería
    (on the shores of a lake)
  • Chocolates Rapa Nui
    (candy delights)

Where to go

  • Cavernas del Viejo Volcan
    (underground exploration)
  • Puerto Blest y Cascada...
    (beautiful arm of the lake)
  • Los Arrayanes National Park
    (large forest area)

Where to stay

  • Camping Los Baqueanos
    (cut off from the urban world)
  • Hosteria La Luna
  • Charming - Luxury Lodge &...
    (unbeatable location)