The alps of Argentina

Argentina is known for its gauchos galloping across the Pampas, and for Buenos Aires, which is perhaps the most the most European of all of South America’s cities.  It is a country of contrasts, and Argentina has a region that is very reminiscent of the Swiss Alps.

That Argentina has mountains should come as no surprise as the spine of the Andes runs the full length of Argentina.  One area that is stunningly attractive is Nahuel Huapi National Park, which is part of San Carlos de Bariloche, a city in the province of Rio Negro.

This area is popular because of its natural attributes: majestic, snow-capped mountain, vast, dense forests, and crystal clear rivers, lakes and streams.

Whilst you can sit back and enjoy the magnificent views, most people head to Bariloche to participate in some adventure.

Naturally, skiing and snowboarding are very popular and there are a number of resorts with easy access to the best slopes.  As well as the traditional downhill skiing, cross country skiing is also popular, particularly on Mount Otto.

Mountain biking is another activity that is undertaken in the Nahuel Huapi National Park.   Riding a mountain bike along hidden paths in direct contact with nature, takes you to interesting places of outstanding beauty, where you wouldn’t have accessed in other way. Bariloche offers low, medium and high difficulty level trails for biking.

The area is a natural choice for avid hikers where you can find hidden spots, panoramic lookout points and other places inaccessible to vehicles. In the surrounding area of Bariloche there are complex networks of mountain climbing slopes and mountain refuges, most of them established decades ago by the Club Andino Bariloche, one of the oldest and most important mountaineering clubs in South America. These refuges are cabin-like constructions with a large common bedroom, kitchen, a large place to eat and restrooms. There are currently seven refuges operated by the Club Andino, each one with different features and levels of difficulty.  

As difficult as it is to believe, many people enjoy scuba diving in the mountains. The waters may be cold, but the rivers and lakes are also crystal clear, and the views magnificent.

One of the most interesting sporting pursuits is called canopy, which is manoeuvering through the tops of the trees using ziplines, hanging bridges and rappel.  Canopy is an eco tourist activity, of low impact on the environment and there are several companies which conduct canopy, and which supply safety equipment  and expert training.

A low exertion activity is called floating, which takes place o the Limay River and, as the name suggest, consist of just lying back in a boat and letting the river gently float yuou downstream.

San Carlos de Bariloche really comes alive at night when visitors return from their various daily activities.  There are many restaurants serving traditional Argentinian fare, like parillas, and local specialities such as trout and deer, as well as non-traditional meals such as pizzas.  There are also a couple of good locally-produced beers, such as Blest, Wilkenny and Pilgrim, which really hot the spot, and some great local wines.  For nightly entertainment there is the casino, and many bars.

There is accommodation to suit all budgets and camping is allowed in special areas of the National Park.

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