- 1 National Park Information
- 2 Geography
- 3 Climate in Nahuel Huapi
- 4 Biodiversity
- 5 Activities and Excursions in Nahuel Huapi
- 5.1 Hiking Trails with Low Difficulty
- 5.2 Hiking Trails with Medium and High Difficulty
- 5.3 Kayaking and Canoeing
- 5.4 Sport Fishing
- 5.5 Horseback Riding
- 5.6 Nahuel Huapi Beaches
- 5.7 Boat Tours
- 5.8 Bicycle Excursions and Routes
- 5.9 Ver el Parque Nacional en auto
- 5.10 These Car Routes will provide you with the opportunity to enjoy the nature and beauty of Nahuel Huapi, while comfortably traveling in your vehicle. Get ready for an unforgettable adventure!
- 5.11 Historical and Cultural Points of Interest
- 6 Accommodation and Services
- 7 How to Get There
- 8 Practical Information for Visitors
- 9 Photo Gallery
The Nahuel Huapi National Park, known in Spanish as "Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi", in Argentine Patagonia is a captivating destination that offers an unparalleled geographical diversity. With vast mountains, serene lakes, and mighty landscapes, this park has become a paradise for nature and adventure enthusiasts. Join us with our guide to discover what to see, what to do, and all the recommendations of this natural reserve in the Argentine country.
National Park Information
Located in the southwest of the Neuquén province, in the Bariloche department, within the subdivided departments of Los Lagos and Lácar, to the west of the Río Negro in the Patagonia region, Nahuel Huapi National Park is one of the most captivating destinations in Argentina. Spanning an area of over 700,000 hectares, this park offers unparalleled geographical diversity, from the towering peaks of the Andes to the serenity of its multiple lakes. It can be geographically located by the coordinates 41°00′S 71°30′W.
History of National Park Designation
Initiated in 1903 when Perito Francisco Pascasio Moreno donated a stretch of land on the boundary of the Neuquén and Río Negro territories. Initially named Sud National Park in 1922, it received its final designation on April 8, 1934, when Nahuel Huapi National Park was officially created through the Congress of the Nation’s Law No. 12.103/34, incorporating a larger territory to reach a protected area of 717,261 hectares. With this creation, Argentina became the third country in the Americas to have a National Park.
The primary purpose of Nahuel Huapi National Park is the protection of the North Patagonian Andean forests and steppe, as well as promoting greater knowledge and understanding of these environments. Furthermore, it aims to foster harmonious integration between life in nature and human development, in line with the preservation of these valuable ecosystems. The park thus becomes a refuge for nature and culture, combining conservation with the opportunity to enjoy and learn from its natural richness.
Meaning of the Name Nahuel Huapi
The name "Nahuel Huapi" comes from the Mapuche language and means "Island of the Jaguar". Although there are no jaguars in the area, legend has it that a powerful sorcerer transformed into a great feline to cross the lake that now bears this mysterious name.
Geographical Features of the Park
Nahuel Huapi National Park offers astonishing geographical diversity. From high mountains covered in glaciers to dense forests and deep lakes, the park is a paradise for nature and adventure lovers. It belongs to the Patagonian Forest, Patagonian Steppe, and High Andean ecoregion.
Main Lakes and Rivers
The park is dominated by the vast Lake Nahuel Huapi, but it also hosts a series of other lakes and rivers, including Lakes Gutiérrez, Mascardi, and the impressive Limay River. All of them are ideal sites for kayaking, fishing, and contemplating natural beauty.
Geology and Landscape Formation
The geological landscape of Nahuel Huapi National Park is the product of millions of years of volcanic and glacial activity. This is reflected in its impressive mountains, deep valleys, and numerous caves, offering a glimpse into geological time.
Climate in Nahuel Huapi
General Climate Conditions in the Park
The climate in the region is cold temperate with marked seasonality. Winters are humid, with frequent snowfall and an average temperature of 2°C to 4°C. Summers are dry, with temperatures reaching an average of 14°C to 16°C.
The park experiences a precipitation gradient, with heavy rainfall in the mountainous area due to clouds from the Pacific Ocean. Rainfall decreases towards the east, where the steppe zone is located. In Puerto Blest, in the mountainous area, around 4,000 mm of annual precipitation is recorded, while the average in the steppe area is 600 mm.
The most favorable season to visit Nahuel Huapi National Park is during summer, late spring, and early autumn, spanning from November to April. During this time, the weather conditions are warmer and suitable for outdoor activities, allowing you to explore and enjoy the natural beauty of the park.
Seasons and Their Influence on Park Visits
The seasons of the year significantly influence the experience in the park. Summer is ideal for hiking and water sports, while winter attracts skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. Spring and autumn, on the other hand, stand out for the vibrant colors of the vegetation.
Iconic Species of the Park
The southern river otter (Lontra provocax) is the emblem of Nahuel Huapi National Park. This otter is exclusive to the Andean-Patagonian region and plays a fundamental role in the ecosystem. It is a carnivore that primarily feeds on fish and crustaceans.
The habitat of the southern river otter encompasses rivers, lakes, lagoons, and their surrounding wooded areas. Conservation of natural coastlines is crucial for its survival, as it relies on coastal vegetation, rocks, and logs for shelter and reproduction. The presence of the southern river otter in the park highlights the importance of protecting and preserving these aquatic and riparian ecosystems in Nahuel Huapi.
Flora and Dominant Ecosystems
The park hosts a wide variety of flora species that adapt to the different environments present in the protected area. As one moves from west to east, the composition of the flora varies, reflecting the transition from the humid forest environments to the more arid steppe environments.
The Andean forest is the dominant portion of the park, covering over 60% of its surface. In this environment, species such as coihue, lenga, and ñire can be found. In the wetter areas, where the Valdivian rainforest develops, smaller forests of alerce, ciprés de las guaitecas, mañiú hembra, and mañiú macho can also be found, among others. In high-humidity locations like riverbanks or lake shores, the Chilean myrtle (arrayán) is common. The cypress of the Andes can be found from the westernmost zone of the forest to the steppe.
In the high Andean environment, characterized by harsh conditions of high mountains, plants adapted to these rigorous circumstances can be found. Here, one can observe creeping herbs, low shrubs, and resistant grasses, which are some of the forms that flora species adopt in this zone.
The diversity of flora in Nahuel Huapi National Park contributes to the richness and beauty of its landscapes, providing a vital habitat for numerous species of fauna.
Wildlife of the Park
The park is the habitat of a rich variety of wildlife species, many of which have special conservation value. In total, 24 species of vertebrates of importance have been recorded in the protected area.
One of the iconic species of the park is the southern river otter, which is also the emblem of the park. These otters inhabit the rivers, lakes, and lagoons of the forest, and the conservation of their natural habitats, such as shores with vegetation, rocks, and logs, is essential for their survival. Both the southern river otter and the huemul, a deer species, are endangered and are the focus of conservation efforts.
Other species of special value present in the park include the imperial cormorant, the monito del monte (little mountain monkey), the torrent duck, the condor, the puma, the pudú (the world’s smallest deer), the güiña cat, the guanaco, the small gray fox, and several species of amphibians. Additionally, there are endemic species that are only found in this protected area and nowhere else in the world, such as the colonial tuco-tuco, the Chalhuaco frog, and the senecio of Cerro Carbón.
The presence of this diverse fauna in Nahuel Huapi National Park highlights its importance as a refuge for the conservation of threatened and endemic species, as well as for maintaining biodiversity in the region.
Endemic Species and Their Importance
The park is home to numerous endemic species such as the Patagonian tuco-tuco and the pudú, the smallest deer in the world. The existence of these unique species underscores the importance of conserving and protecting this unique ecosystem.
Activities and Excursions in Nahuel Huapi
Hiking Trails with Low Difficulty
The hiking trails in Nahuel Huapi offer stunning views and unique experiences. Trails like Cerro Tronador and Refugio Otto Meiling are highly popular among hikers.
This area offers several family-friendly trails, such as the stroll through Valle de los Perdidos, the city viewpoint, the valley viewpoint, Laguna Verde, and Pedregoso viewpoint. These hikes do not exceed an hour and a half in duration.
From the section to Cascada Los Duendes and the Lago Gutiérrez viewpoint, this trail offers a family-friendly route with beautiful views.
Lago Roca Area
From the confectionery parking lot to Cascada Los Alerces, this trail provides an easy and enjoyable hike for the whole family.
From the road to Arroyo Catarata trail, this trail offers a tranquil and picturesque route suitable for families.
Brazo Última Esperanza
Located near Lago Espejo viewpoint and easily accessible from the route to Chile, this trail is particularly interesting for birdwatching and offers an attractive experience for families.
These trails provide an opportunity to enjoy nature in a safe and accessible environment for all ages, allowing families to explore and appreciate the beauty of Nahuel Huapi National Park together.
Hiking Trails with Medium and High Difficulty
If you’re looking for hiking trails in Nahuel Huapi National Park that offer greater difficulty and challenge, here are several more demanding options for you:
Cerro Dormilón (Dormilon Mountain)
This route takes you to the summit of Cerro Dormilón, offering impressive panoramic views. It’s a demanding hike and it’s recommended to stay overnight in the park’s refuges.
Refugio Italia (Laguna Negra) (Black Lagoon)
This trail takes you to Refugio Italia, located near Laguna Negra. It’s a challenging route that requires endurance and the ability to hike in steep terrain.
Laguna Jakob (Refugio San Martín) (Jakob Lagoon)
This trail takes you to the beautiful Laguna Jakob and Refugio San Martín. The hike is demanding and requires mountain experience.
Paso de las Nubes and Refugio Rocca
This route crosses Paso de las Nubes and takes you to Refugio Rocca. It’s a challenging alpine hike that requires technical skills and mountaineering experience.
Cascada and Laguna Los Césares (Waterfall and Los Césares Lagoon)
This trail takes you to Cascada and Laguna Los Césares. It’s a demanding route with steep and rugged terrain.
These trails are suitable for experienced hikers and require good physical condition and proper preparation. Always make sure to inquire about trail conditions, bring the necessary equipment, and follow the park’s safety recommendations.
Kayaking and Canoeing
If you’re looking for an exciting water adventure, kayaking is an excellent choice. Whether you want to have a fun day with friends or your partner, kayaking trips offer an unforgettable experience. You can choose to do the activity independently or with a certified guide for short or long journeys.
Nahuel Huapi National Park has several lakes ideal for kayaking, including Nahuel Huapi, Moreno, Gutiérrez, Mascardi, Los Moscos, Hess, Fonk, Roca, Guillelmo, Steffen, Falkner, Espejo, and Traful. These lakes offer beautiful landscapes and the opportunity to explore their waters by kayak.
Kayaking can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from children to adults. However, it’s important to consider the difficulty of the lake or river where you’re kayaking and ensure you have the proper equipment and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Sport fishing is a popular activity in Nahuel Huapi National Park during the authorized season, which runs from November 1st to May 1st each year. This activity is practiced in an environmentally conscious manner and is regulated within the park.
Sport fishing is allowed using techniques such as spinning, trolling, and fly casting. However, it’s mandatory to obtain a fishing permit to fish in lakes Nahuel Huapi, Espejo, Traful, Mascardi, Hess, Fonck, and Roca, as well as in the Limay, Manso, Traful, and Correntoso rivers, which are the most sought after by anglers.
Horseback riding is an ideal option for exploring the inaccessible areas of the Patagonian wilderness and enjoying a unique experience while touring on horseback. It allows you to immerse yourself in stunning landscapes and conclude the journey with a delicious barbecue, a tradition in the region.
Typically, it’s the park’s own residents who offer horseback riding services and are authorized as providers of this type of activity. They organize circuits and will guide you through scenic routes, providing information about the flora, fauna, and history of the area.
Nahuel Huapi Beaches
The beaches of Nahuel Huapi are another attraction of the park, with excellent areas of free access that offer a refreshing option for those seeking to beat the heat and enjoy water activities.
Beaches near Bariloche:
- Playa Centenario: located in the city of Bariloche, this spacious and popular beach offers beautiful views of Lake Nahuel Huapi.
- Playa Melipal: situated on the San Pedro Peninsula, this beach is ideal for sunbathing and water activities.
- Playa Bonita: a few kilometers from Bariloche, this beach offers panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
- Bahía Serena: a peaceful bay on the San Pedro Peninsula, perfect for enjoying a relaxing day by the water.
- Villa Tacul: located on the southern coast of Lake Nahuel Huapi, this beach offers a tranquil and natural environment.
Beaches near Villa La Angostura
- Bahía Mansa and Brava: two beaches located in the city of Villa La Angostura, with calm waters and stunning landscapes.
- Lago Villarino: a lake near Villa La Angostura with several beaches along its coast, ideal for enjoying the sun and water.
- Lago Falkner: a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains, with picturesque beaches for relaxation and enjoying the natural surroundings.
- Lago Traful: with sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, Lago Traful offers impressive scenery and opportunities for swimming and sunbathing.
- Lago Espejo: known for its white sandy beaches, Lago Espejo is perfect for enjoying a sunny day and water activities.
Other Lakes and Beaches
- Lago Espejo Chico: located near Lago Espejo, this smaller lake also has charming beaches.
- Lago Correntoso: connecting Lakes Correntoso and Nahuel Huapi, this area offers beautiful beaches and the opportunity to enjoy natural hot springs.
- Brazo Rincón: an arm of Lake Nahuel Huapi with tranquil beaches and panoramic views.
- Lago Fonck: located in a remote area of the park, Lago Fonck offers pristine beaches and a serene atmosphere.
- Lago Hess: known for its natural beauty, Lago Hess features secluded beaches and crystal-clear waters.
- Lago Roca: located near the border with Chile, this lake offers picturesque beaches and impressive views of the Andes mountain range.
- Lago Steffen: surrounded by forests and mountains, Lago Steffen boasts tranquil beaches and a serene atmosphere.
- Brazo Huemul: an arm of Lake Nahuel Huapi with sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters.
- Isla Victoria: not a beach itself, but Isla Victoria, located in Lake Nahuel Huapi, offers beautiful natural landscapes and the opportunity to explore its pristine shores and beaches.
Lake excursions are a popular option for exploring the natural beauty of Nahuel Huapi National Park. Navigating on modern boats offers visitors the opportunity to admire the park’s stunning geography and observe its diverse fauna. These excursions allow you to enjoy the majestic lakes, imposing mountains, and lush vegetation of the region. Additionally, expert guides provide interesting information about the park’s history and ecology. An unforgettable experience to connect with nature and enjoy Northern Patagonia!
- Bosque de Arrayanes: This excursion allows you to explore the Bosque de Arrayanes, famous for its cinnamon-colored bark trees. You can choose to take the guided tour to learn about the different growth stages of the arrayanes trees.
- Isla Victoria and Arrayanes: Offered by Turisur, this excursion takes you to Isla Victoria to explore its natural beauty and visit a nursery. Then, continue to the Bosque de Arrayanes, where you can marvel at these unique trees.
- Selva Valdiviana / Trail / Waterfall / Hotel / Lakes Frías and Ortiz Basualdo: Another option from Turisur, this excursion allows you to delve into the Valdivian rainforest, hike trails, enjoy a waterfall, and visit the Hotel Frías. You can also opt for an optional navigation on Lake Frías.
- Andean Lakes Crossing (Lake Frías / Valdivian Rainforest / Cross to Chile by bus and boat): Turisur offers this multi-day excursion that takes you through the Andean lakes, including Lake Frías, the Valdivian rainforest, and a cross to Chile by bus and boat.
From Villa La Angostura
- Bosque de Arrayanes: Just like from Bariloche, you can visit the Bosque de Arrayanes from Villa La Angostura to marvel at these unique trees.
- Visit Angostura: This excursion takes you to explore the charms of Villa La Angostura and its surroundings, where you can enjoy beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities.
- Brazo Tristeza and Arroyo Frey Waterfall: A family-friendly excursion with no age limits, taking you on a comfortable boat equipped with tables to enjoy Brazo Tristeza and visit the Arroyo Frey Waterfall.
These are some of the excursion options from Bariloche and Villa La Angostura that will allow you to explore the natural beauty of the region and enjoy its unique attractions.
Bicycle Excursions and Routes
For those with a moderate fitness level and a sense of adventure, exploring the region by bicycle is an excellent choice.
Within the protected area of Nahuel Huapi National Park, there are various trails to explore by bike, offering different levels of difficulty and breathtaking landscapes:
- Lago Guillelmo (East Shore): This route has a round-trip distance of approximately 18 km and is of medium difficulty. You can enjoy panoramic views of the beautiful Lago Guillelmo as you pedal.
- Río Manso Inferior (between walkways): With a round-trip distance of about 44 km, this route offers a ride along the Río Manso Inferior. It’s an ideal option for those seeking a moderate challenge while enjoying the natural beauty of the landscape.
- Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes: This round-trip route covers a distance of approximately 24 km and is of high difficulty. It will allow you to delve into Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes and explore its famous forest of arrayanes trees, with unique cinnamon-colored bark trees in the region.
- Puerto Blest- Puerto Alegre: Along a vehicular path, this approximately 6 km (round-trip) route offers a scenic ride between the ports of Blest and Alegre. It’s a medium-difficulty option that will let you enjoy beautiful views of the lake.
- Senda Paco Etchegaray: Starting from the base of Cerro Catedral and reaching Lago Gutiérrez, this one-way route covers a distance of 6.5 km. It’s of high difficulty and offers an exciting challenge for adventurous cyclists.
These bicycle paths will provide you with the opportunity to explore the region in an active and thrilling way, enjoying its stunning landscapes as you immerse yourself in the nature of Nahuel Huapi Park. Get ready to pedal and discover the beauty of Patagonia on two wheels!
Ver el Parque Nacional en auto
Para aquellos que deseen explorar la naturaleza y disfrutar de caminatas y paradas desde la comodidad de su vehículo, los circuitos en auto son una opción ideal durante todo el año.
Dentro del Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, existen varios circuitos que podrás recorrer en auto:
- Cerro Tronador y Cascada de los Alerces: este circuito te llevará hasta el imponente Cerro Tronador, donde podrás disfrutar de impresionantes vistas y visitar la espectacular Cascada de los Alerces.
- Lagos Gutiérrez, Mascardi y Guillelmo: podrás recorrer los hermosos lagos Gutiérrez, Mascardi y Guillelmo, disfrutando de sus paisajes y realizando paradas en diferentes puntos de interés a lo largo del recorrido.
- Lago Steffen y Río Manso Inferior: explora el tranquilo Lago Steffen y el pintoresco Río Manso Inferior en este circuito, donde podrás disfrutar de la belleza natural de la región.
- Valle del Chalhuaco: este circuito te llevará a través del impresionante Valle del Chalhuaco, donde podrás disfrutar de paisajes majestuosos y realizar caminatas en medio de la naturaleza.
- Río Limay y Valle Encantado: descubre la belleza del Río Limay y explora el fascinante Valle Encantado en este circuito, donde podrás disfrutar de formaciones rocosas únicas y vistas panorámicas.
- Hacia San Martín de los Andes por el Camino de los 7 Lagos: embárcate en un emocionante recorrido hacia la ciudad de San Martín de los Andes a través del famoso Camino de los 7 Lagos, donde podrás admirar la belleza de los lagos y las montañas a lo largo del camino.
- Circuito Grande: permite explorar diferentes áreas del parque, combinando paisajes impresionantes, lagos y montañas en un recorrido completo.
These Car Routes will provide you with the opportunity to enjoy the nature and beauty of Nahuel Huapi, while comfortably traveling in your vehicle. Get ready for an unforgettable adventure!
Historical and Cultural Points of Interest
In addition to its natural beauty, the park is home to several historical and cultural points of interest. The Chapel of San Eduardo and the nearby city of Bariloche are notable examples.
Accommodation and Services
Campgrounds and Accommodations within the Park
For those who wish to spend the night, the park offers a variety of campgrounds and mountain refuges. These range from basic sites to more comfortable accommodations, catering to the needs of all types of visitors.
Visitor Services: Information Centers, Tour Guides, Security
The park is well-equipped with visitor services, including picnic areas, information centers, tour guides, and security patrols. Additionally, there are several visitor centers scattered throughout the park that provide maps, hiking permits, and useful tips.
Nearby Towns and Cities and Their Services
The city of San Carlos de Bariloche, often considered the gateway to Nahuel Huapi National Park, offers a variety of services, including accommodation, restaurants, and adventure equipment stores.
How to Get There
The park is accessible by road from several nearby cities, including San Carlos de Bariloche. National Route 40 and National Route 231 are the main access roads to the park.
To access Nahuel Huapi National Park by car, you can take different routes:
- From San Martín de los Andes: You can access the park via RN 234 and RN 231, also known as the "Route of the Seven Lakes," or via RP 63.
- From Neuquén: The park can be reached via RN 237.
The park also has connections with Chile through three border crossings: Paso Cardenal Samoré via RN 231, Paso Cochamó via RP 83, and Paso Pérez Rosales, which is a lake crossing.
If you prefer to travel by air, the city of Bariloche, which hosts the National Park Headquarters, has flights from major Argentine cities such as Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Rosario, Calafate, and other destinations, as well as international connections to São Paulo, Brazil.
Another option is to use bus transportation, as there is a wide range of services to and from Bariloche, Villa La Angostura, and Villa Traful, connecting to the park.
Practical Information for Visitors
Entry Points to the Park
Maps of Nahuel Huapi National Park are available at tourist information centers and online. The main entry points to the park are in Villa La Angostura and San Carlos de Bariloche.
Starting from May 22, 2023, the following admission fees apply to Nahuel Huapi National Park:
- General rate: $5500 National residents: $1500 Children aged 6 to 16: $1000.
- University/tertiary students*: $1000 Provincial residents: $1000.
- Students up to 18 years old on a school excursion: $0 (subject to prior and proper accreditation with the Park Headquarters).
- Local residents, retirees, pensioners, children up to 5 years old, and individuals with disabilities**: $0.
*Student status can be proven with a student ID or a certificate of current enrollment.
**Retiree or pensioner status is proven with a pension receipt not older than 3 periods at the time of the visit. Individuals with disabilities must present a valid Certificate of Disability (CUD) or similar at the time of the visit.
Rules and Regulations
It’s important for visitors to adhere to park regulations, which include respecting wildlife, not littering, and staying on marked trails. These rules help protect the park and ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone.
Regulations for Activities such as Camping, Fishing, Hiking
Each activity in the park, from camping to fishing and hiking, has its own set of regulations to ensure visitor safety and environmental conservation.
Park and Biodiversity Protection
The protection and conservation of Nahuel Huapi National Park and its biodiversity are of utmost importance. Visitors are invited to respect the natural environment and contribute to the preservation of this valuable ecosystem.