- 1 Lanín National Park Information
- 2 Geology
- 3 Biodiversity of Lanín
- 4 The Lanín Volcano
- 5 Activities in Lanín National Park
- 5.1 Exploring the Trails of Lanín Volcano
- 5.2 Visiting the Geologic Formations of El Escorial in Lanín
- 5.3 Lahuen-Có Hot Springs
- 5.4 Chachín Waterfall
- 5.5 Meliquina and Filo Hua-Hum
- 5.6 Quila Quina
- 5.7 Chapelco Ski Resort: Winter Activities of Skiing and Snowboarding
- 5.8 Pehuenia Circuit
- 5.9 Excursions and Hiking
- 5.10 Fishing
- 5.11 Bird Watching
- 6 Lakes and Rivers
- 6.1 Lacar Lake
- 6.2 Huechulafquen Lake
- 6.3 Ñorquinco Lake
- 6.4 Rucachoroi Lake
- 6.5 Quillén Lake
- 6.6 Huí Huí Lake
- 6.7 Tromen Lake
- 6.8 Huechulafquen Lake
- 6.9 Paimún Lake
- 6.10 Verde Lagoon
- 6.11 Curruhue Grande Lake
- 6.12 Curruhue Chico Lake
- 6.13 Lolog Lake
- 6.14 Hua-Hum Lake
- 6.15 Queñi Lake
- 6.16 Hidden Lake (Lago Escondido)
- 6.17 Other Bodies of Water
- 7 Accommodation and Services
- 8 How to Get to Lanín National Park
- 9 Conservation and Sustainability
- 10 Recommendations and Tips for Visitors
- 11 Other National Parks Near Lanín
- 12 Photo Gallery
Open to endless adventures and discoveries, the Lanín National Park in Argentina amazes all travelers with its mighty snow-capped volcano, 24 crystalline lakes, and unique biodiversity. If you’re wondering how to prepare for this journey, with this detailed guide of activities, fauna, flora, points of interest, and routes, you’ll be able to fully explore and enjoy everything that this park offers.
Lanín National Park Information
History of Lanín National Park
Lanín National Park was created on May 11, 1937 (Decree No. 105,433/37 confirmed by Law No. 13,895) to protect an important section of the Argentinian Patagonian wooded mountain range, specifically the north Andean-Patagonian forests that harbor endemic species such as the pehuén, raulí, and pellín oak. It received the Spanish name "Parque Nacional Lanín". These species are only found in a small area of the province, making the park an ecologically significant place.
The park takes its name from the impressive Lanín volcano, whose towering presence dominates the surrounding landscape. The word "Lanín" means "dead" in Mapudungun, the language of the Mapuche indigenous communities that have inhabited these lands since ancient times.
The relationship between the park authorities and the Mapuche communities is cordial and cooperative, with an agreement to work together to preserve the park and its valuable natural and cultural heritage. As part of this process, the park has returned lands to indigenous communities, recognizing the importance of this territory to their culture and way of life. This collaboration is an example of how conservation and respect for cultural diversity can coexist, promoting the preservation of the region’s natural environment and cultural heritage.
Ecological and Cultural Significance
This park is a valuable refuge for endemic species and is crucial for the conservation of Patagonian biodiversity. Additionally, the region holds a deep cultural significance for the Mapuche indigenous communities that have inhabited these lands for centuries.
Located in the Neuquén Province, Lanín National Park covers an area of 412,000 hectares, extending from the border with Chile to the eastern part of the Andes mountain range. It can be geographically located with the following coordinates: 40°09′37″S 71°21′27″W / -40.1603, -71.3575, or with the address: Emilio, Julio Frey 749, Q8370 Junín de los Andes, Neuquén, Argentina.
Park Entrance Fees
Geological Features of the National Park
The Lanín Park region is situated in a mountainous setting within the Andes mountain range, in the Patagonian Forest, Patagonian Steppe ecoregion. The terrain is characterized by steep slopes and elevations ranging from 900 to 1900 meters above sea level, except for the highest point, which is the Lanín volcano, situated on the border with Chile and reaching a height of 3776 meters. At its summit, a cap of permanent ice and snow can be observed.
The park’s landscape is dominated by glacial landforms, particularly erosional types such as lake basins and U-shaped valleys. Evidence of volcanic activity can also be found, including basalt flows from the Lanín volcano, the Achen Niyen scoria cone, and the Lahuen-Có hot springs and Lake Queñi. Glacial erosional landforms predominate in the northern and central areas of the park. The Tromen Lake basin displays glacial erosion and sedimentation phenomena. Around Lake Huechulafquen, lateral moraines can be observed, formations in the landscape caused by the accumulation of materials carried by glaciers. To the west of Lake Currhué lies the Huanquihue volcano, showing evidence of its more recent volcanic activity in the form of a scoria cone.
Climate in Lanín
The climate of Lanín National Park is cold and humid, typical of the Patagonian Andes. During winter, average temperatures are around 4°C, while in summer they reach 20°C.
Precipitation is more frequent in winter and comes from the moist winds blowing from the South Pacific. Areas close to the mountains receive a significant amount of rain due to the region’s orography. This creates humid forests on slopes and valleys, while towards the east, rainfall decreases, transitioning to a steppe environment. Average annual precipitation is around 1800 mm, but it varies between the eastern and western parts of the park. In mountainous areas, figures can exceed 4000 mm per year. Frequent snowfalls occur during the months of May to October. In higher areas above 1600 meters, the climate is more severe, with very low temperatures and precipitation in the form of snow.
Biodiversity of Lanín
Iconic Park Fauna
The Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) and the araucaria or pehuén (Araucaria araucana) are two prominent symbols of Lanín National Park.
The Andean condor is a mighty bird with a wingspan of approximately 3 meters. It is known for its ability to soar in the air using thermal currents. Its plumage is mostly black, but it has a collar and a white area on the back of its wings. Males have a reddish crest on their heads devoid of feathers, while females lack a crest. Juveniles are brown and lack the white markings.
On the other hand, the araucaria or pehuén is a coniferous tree that can grow up to 50 meters in height. Its growth is extremely slow, and some specimens can live up to 1000 years. Older trees have branches that open high up, giving them a characteristic umbrella-like shape. Araucaria leaves are tough and have a spine at the tip. The seeds, known as pine nuts or piñones, are edible and have high nutritional value.
These emblematic species, the Andean condor and the araucaria, represent the unique biodiversity and natural beauty of the ecosystem present in the area.
The park hosts notable botanical diversity that plays a crucial role in regulating water in northern Patagonia. Among the present plants, several endemic herbs and shrubs can be found, as well as forests of pehuén, pellín oak, and raulí.
The mighty elevations of the mountain range exhibit snow-capped peaks and slopes covered in dense Nothofagus forests. In lower altitude areas like Hua Hum, the lush Valdivian temperate rainforest extends from the west, further enriching the park’s biodiversity.
The park also boasts a rich diversity of fauna, with a total of 233 species of native vertebrates. Among mammals, species such as the puma, foxes, and the monito del monte, a marsupial, can be found. In terms of birds, notable species include the Andean tinamou, Andean condor, red-backed hawk, and the Austral negrito, among others.
The presence of these species underscores the park’s significance as a habitat for wildlife and the conservation of biodiversity in the region. Visitors to Lanín National Park have the opportunity to observe and enjoy the fascinating fauna that inhabits this natural environment.
The Lanín Volcano
The Lanín Volcano, reaching 3,776 meters above sea level, is an inactive stratovolcano and one of the most iconic in the Patagonian Andes. Its presence dominates the park’s landscape and the entire region, with the snow-covered peak visible from afar. Its most recent eruptive events occurred thousands of years ago, leaving a snowy summit that is now an impressive sight for all visitors.
Ascent to the Volcano
Ascending Lanín is a popular yet challenging activity. Adequate preparation and the accompaniment of authorized guides are required. From the summit, the views of the surrounding lakes and forests are simply breathtaking.
Before embarking on the ascent of Volcán Lanín within the park, certain general requirements must be fulfilled. It is mandatory to register at the corresponding Section, either at Río Turbio for the northern face or Puerto Canoas for the southern face. During registration, participants’ identity details, place of residence or origin, planned activity, itinerary, and estimated duration of stay in the park must be provided.
The staff in charge will conduct an inspection of the necessary equipment, which can be rented in Junín de los Andes or San Martín de los Andes. Additionally, the required technical and physical preparation for the ascent will be evaluated. If all requirements are met, an ascent permit will be granted, along with the necessary information to carry out the journey.
Regarding equipment and clothing, it is mandatory to follow the established regulations. For ascending via the normal route, quality trekking boots, a mountain-appropriate coat, synthetic base layers, pants and overpants, gloves or mittens, a wool or synthetic hat, sunglasses or goggles with UV protection, gaiters, crampons, a UIAA-approved ice axe or poles, personal first aid kit, UV-filtered sunscreen, insulating pad, sleeping bag, locking carabiners, slings or cords, flashlight with spare batteries, whistle, and communication equipment with spare batteries are required.
For ascending via the southern face, in addition, a climbing helmet, climbing harness or seat harness, plastic or double boots instead of trekking boots, two technical ice axes instead of one ice axe and poles, safety and non-locking carabiners, ice screws and snow stakes, tubular slings and cords are required. If ascending in a group, a climbing rope of 50 meters and 9 mm diameter (or 30 meters and 9 mm diameter for the northern face) is required for every four people, as well as an additional heater for every four people.
Other requirements include having knowledge and experience in ice travel techniques, and for beginners, hiring the services of a mountain guide authorized by the National Parks Administration. It’s important to attempt the summit only in favorable physical and weather conditions and to inform the Park Ranger upon return.
The Lanín Volcano has two distinct seasons. The summer season runs from October 1st to May 31st of the following year, while the winter season spans from June 1st to September 30th of the same year.
Legends of Lanín Volcano
According to legend, Pillán, the God of evil, lived on the summit of Lanín Volcano and did not allow anyone to approach it. When the Huanquimil tribe attempted to reach the peak while chasing guanacos, a storm was unleashed, and the volcano began to spew lava, smoke, fiery flames, and ashes. The terrified population consulted the tribe’s sorcerer to learn how to appease Pillán’s wrath. The sorcerer informed them that they had to sacrifice Huilefún, the youngest daughter of the chief, and that Quechuán, the bravest youth of the tribe, had to throw her into the volcano.
Quechuán took Huilefún near the summit and left her alone. At that moment, a condor approached and grabbed her with its talons, throwing her into the crater. Huilefún’s sacrifice succeeded in permanently calming Pillán’s wrath. Since then, Lanín Volcano remains dormant but with its fires hidden beneath its white dome.
Even today, the Mapuche community considers Lanín Volcano a sacred place and refrains from making ascents out of respect for its spiritual significance. This legend illustrates how traditional beliefs and myths have left a cultural mark on the communities’ perception and relationship with the volcano and its surroundings.
Lanín Volcano and the Mapuche People
The Lanín Volcano holds significant importance for the Mapuche community, as it serves as an icon of identification and is considered a sacred site. At the base of the northern face, the annual celebration of the rewe takes place, which is a ritual of nature sanctification. This ceremony occurs in a space called rewe, which must be an open area allowing a view towards the east, where "Nguenechén," the Mapuche god, resides.
Starting from 2008, the ceremony is conducted at the foot of the volcano, where prayers are offered to seek various favors. The authorities of Lanín National Park promote respect for the spiritual and emblematic value that the volcano holds for the Mapuche people. It has been established that these values must be considered when making management decisions related to the volcano.
In this regard, regulations stipulate that any person crossing pasture areas of residents and/or indigenous communities, whether accompanied by authorized mountain guides or not, should exhibit respectful behavior towards them. Furthermore, authorities have restricted ascent to the volcano during the ceremony (ascent is only allowed via the southern face). However, the Mapuche people desire that access to the volcano be prohibited on any of the routes during these days.
Activities in Lanín National Park
Exploring the Trails of Lanín Volcano
The towering Lanín Volcano is a prominent attraction in the park. You can undertake the challenging ascent of the volcano with authorized guides accompanying you.
Visiting the Geologic Formations of El Escorial in Lanín
A unique geological formation created by volcanic activity. It’s an interesting place to explore and learn about the region’s geology.
Lahuen-Có Hot Springs
An area with thermal waters and natural hot springs. It’s a popular spot for relaxation and enjoying the benefits of thermal waters.
An impressive waterfall amidst a spectacular natural setting. It’s a popular location for hiking and enjoying panoramic views.
Meliquina and Filo Hua-Hum
A mountainous area with beautiful panoramic views. Offers opportunities for hiking and enjoying nature.
A small town located on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi. It’s a picturesque place to enjoy the beach, hikes, and kayak rides.
Chapelco Ski Resort: Winter Activities of Skiing and Snowboarding
One of Argentina’s most important winter resorts, with 31 ski slopes for all skill levels. It’s a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts. The park’s mountains transform into a paradise for winter sports. There are options for skiing and snowboarding, as well as snowshoeing excursions.
A circuit that connects the magnificent scenery surrounding Ñorquinco, Aluminé, and Moquehue lakes. The circuit offers stunning panoramic views, fishing opportunities, hiking, and nature exploration. It’s an excellent way to enjoy the region’s beauty and discover new places along its route.
These sites and activities provide visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature and enjoy the magnificent landscapes of Lanín National Park and its surroundings. Whether exploring crystal-clear lakes, ascending the imposing Lanín Volcano, relaxing in hot springs, or enjoying thrilling winter sports, there’s something for every taste and preference. These destinations offer a unique and memorable experience amidst the natural beauty of the Argentinian Patagonia.
Excursions and Hiking
Lanín National Park offers a wide variety of trails for all levels of fitness, from short walks to long multi-day treks. The trails will take you through Araucaria forests, along rivers and lakes, and to lookout points with panoramic views.
One of the most popular routes in Lanín National Park is the Seven Lakes Route (in Spanish: Ruta de los Siete Lagos). This scenic road of approximately 110 kilometers connects the towns of San Martín de los Andes and Villa La Angostura, passing by seven beautiful lakes: Lacar, Machónico, Falkner, Villarino, Escondido, Correntoso, and Nahuel Huapi. Travelers can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views, make stops at tranquil beaches, explore nearby trails, and marvel at the natural beauty of the lakes and surrounding forests.
Ascent to Mirador Bandurrias
For those seeking a more challenging hike, the ascent to Mirador Bandurrias is an excellent choice. This hiking trail, approximately 12 kilometers round trip, offers panoramic views of Lake Lacar and the surrounding mountains. The trail winds through lenga and coihue forests and includes steep sections that require moderate physical effort. Upon reaching the viewpoint, hikers are rewarded with a breathtaking vista that is well worth the effort.
For fishing enthusiasts, the rivers and lakes of the park are home to a plentiful trout population. Remember that fishing is subject to specific regulations and you may need a permit.
Birdwatching enthusiasts will find Lanín National Park an ideal place to indulge their passion, with species such as the Andean condor, the Magellanic woodpecker, and the chucao tapaculo among those that can be observed.
Lakes and Rivers
Lacar Lake, located on the eastern boundary of the park, is one of the largest and most popular, offering a variety of water activities such as kayaking, swimming, and fishing. It also provides the opportunity to see panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
Huechulafquen Lake is another large lake in the park, with impressive views of Lanín Volcano. It’s a popular spot for camping, fishing, and boating excursions.
Lake Ñorquinco is ideal for water activities such as fishing and kayaking.
Another charming lake offering opportunities for fishing and water activities. Its crystal-clear waters and natural surroundings make it a perfect place to enjoy the outdoors.
A beautiful lake nestled in a mountainous landscape. It’s a peaceful place to relax and enjoy nature.
Huí Huí Lake
A turquoise lake surrounded by lush forests. It’s a perfect site for hiking and enjoying panoramic views.
A glacial lake of stunning beauty. Offers activities like fishing and hiking in its surroundings.
A large lake with impressive views of Lanín Volcano. It’s a popular spot for camping, fishing, and boating excursions.
Another beautiful lake offering opportunities for fishing and water activities. Its natural setting makes it a tranquil and picturesque spot.
A crystal-clear lagoon surrounded by forests. It’s a peaceful place to enjoy nature and go for walks.
Curruhue Grande Lake
A lake with turquoise waters surrounded by forests. Known for its peculiar rock formations, it’s an ideal spot for water activities.
Curruhue Chico Lake
A small lake located near Curruhue Grande Lake. It’s a picturesque spot to enjoy tranquility and natural beauty.
A lake surrounded by mountains and forests. It’s a popular spot for water activities, hiking, and camping.
A glacial lake surrounded by forests and mountains. Offers opportunities for fishing, hiking, and navigation.
A peaceful and picturesque lake offering activities like fishing and hiking. It’s an ideal place to relax and enjoy nature.
A lake located in a remote and tranquil setting. It’s perfect for nature enthusiasts looking to get away from the crowds.
Other Bodies of Water
In addition to the large lakes, the park is home to numerous rivers, streams, and smaller lakes, each with its own charm and exploration opportunities.
Accommodation and Services
Campgrounds and Accommodation in the Park
There are several accommodation options within Lanín National Park, ranging from campgrounds to mountain refuges and cabins. Make reservations in advance, especially during peak season.
Seven Lakes Route (Ruta de los Siete Lagos)
The Seven Lakes Route" is one of the world’s largest hikes, offering natural landscapes and a perfect route to fully enjoy Lanín National Park. This scenic route of approximately 110 kilometers connects the cities of San Martín de los Andes and Villa La Angostura, taking you through a dreamlike landscape. Along this route, travelers can marvel at the beauty of seven beautiful lakes: Lacar, Machónico, Falkner, Villarino, Escondido, Correntoso, and Nahuel Huapi. Each of these lakes has its own charm, with crystal-clear waters, tranquil beaches, and stunning panoramic views. The Seven Lakes Route is a must-visit destination for those who want to explore the majesty of Argentine Patagonia and immerse themselves in nature at its finest.
The park offers a range of services for visitors, including tourist information, equipment rental for outdoor activities, and basic services in camping areas.
How to Get to Lanín National Park
Transportation from Buenos Aires
From Buenos Aires, you can take a flight to Aviador Carlos Campos Airport near San Martín de los Andes, and then take a bus or taxi to the park.
Transportation from Other Cities
There are regular bus services to San Martín de los Andes and Junín de los Andes from several cities in Argentina.
Conservation and Sustainability
Lanín National Park undertakes significant conservation efforts to protect its biodiversity and cultural heritage. As a visitor, you can contribute to these efforts by respecting park regulations.
How Visitors Can Help
Visitors can contribute to park conservation by following leave-no-trace principles, not feeding animals, respecting closed areas, and, of course, not littering.
Recommendations and Tips for Visitors
Best Time to Visit
While the park is open year-round, the best time to visit depends on the activities you plan to do. The summer season is great for hiking and fishing, while winter is perfect for snow sports.
What to Bring
Remember to bring appropriate clothing for the changing Patagonian weather, as well as hiking boots, sunscreen, a hat, and drinking water. Binoculars for birdwatching and park maps are also recommended.
Park Rules and Regulations
It’s important for all visitors to be informed about and respect the park’s rules and regulations to ensure its conservation. This includes staying on marked trails, not lighting fires outside designated areas, and not bringing pets to the park.
Other National Parks Near Lanín
Relatively close to Lanín, there are other biosphere reserves and protected areas such as Laguna Blanca National Park, Nahuel Huapi, and Los Arrayanes. These parks offer a variety of stunning natural landscapes and outdoor activities. If you’re staying in the area, you’ll have these nearby for different day trips.