The National Parks of Northern Patagonia


Laguna Blanca National Park
The best place to view the park's abundance of aquatic birds on Patagonia tours is Laguna Verde. Situated north of Laguna Blanca, it requires special permission to visit. Though the black-necked swan may be viewed year-round when you travel to Argentina, the greatest profusion of birds frequents Laguna Blanca National Park between November and March. Camping is allowed for visitors on Argentina tours. The nearest major town is Zapala.

Lanin National Park
Threatened by fire, logging and grazing, the tree lives up to a thousand years in poor volcanic soils. It has ornamental value and is used in construction, producing edible seeds prized for their high carbohydrate content and important to the Pehuenche people who once inhabited the area. Other tree species in the park's forests you'll see when you travel Patagonia on Argentina tours here include two endemic broad-leaf Nothafagus species, the roble pellin and rauli.

Among the park's wildlife are a number of bird species including two walker-birds, the chucao and the huet huet. Visitors on Argentina tours here keep an eye out for the two critically endangered species that inhabit the park, the huillin (southern river otter) and the huemul (Andean deer). The small puda as well as pumas may also be seen.

Indigenous communities of Mapuche and Naguinco live in the park as do some Creoles. Twelve private firms operate here, and some land is owned privately and by the army.

Dry summers make this the best time to visit on Argentina tours, though there are strong winds and year-round frost in the Patagonian forests at some higher elevations. The park has camp sites, some of which are open only part of the year. In addition, hostels and cabins are located nearby if you decide to visit the park when you travel to Argentina. Fishing, and with special permission, some non-motorized water sports are allowed. The park's many trails include a four-day hike to the volcano itself possible between September and April as well as shorter hikes to the lakes for visitors on Argentina tours.

Los Arrayanes National Park
In addition to its eighteen Argentina tours, Southern Explorations offers ten multi-day extensions to Patagonia tours. Eight of these trips and two five-day Bariloche Tour Extensions include boating on the lake the park shares with Nahuel Huapi National Park, a picturesque adventure for those who travel to Argentina on Patagonia tours.

The first inhabitants of the area were nomad hunters and fishermen. The Tehuelches and Araucanos lived here in the 1600s, and with the arrival of the white man, they adopted some of the newcomers' ways, becoming less nomadic. The Desert Campaign, undertaken between 1879 and 1883 to allow peaceful settlement of Patagonia by immigrant populations, wiped out, scattered or neutralized the remaining indigenous people of the region. Before becoming a park, open to visitors on Argentina tours, the land had been an estancia.

The park experiences strong winds and has frost most of the year. Winter brings snow and rain. Though no camping is allowed for visitors on Patagonia tours, there are toilets and a cafe. The upscale town of Villa la Angostrura is located on the edge of the park with hotels and restaurants for those who prefer a bit of Patagonian-style luxury on their Argentina tours. From town, it's possible to hike seven miles to the park's Arrayanes forest, or one can get there by boat from either Villa la Angostura or Bariloche. Either on foot or bicycle, those who travel to Argentina on Patagonia tours here experience a magical ride through the forest's red trees.

Nahuel Huapi National Park
Southern Explorations offers eight trips and two five-day Patagonia Bariloche Tour extensions that visit this famous ski resort town and Nahuel Huapi National Park. Ranging from eight to sixteen days, the trips include the Patagonia Lakes Crossing trip, the Argentina Mountains & Wineries tour, the Patagonia Lakes & Iguazu Falls tour, the Patagonia Hiking & Iguazu Falls tour, the Patagonia & Wineries tour, the Luxury Patagonia & Wineries tour, Patagonian Lakes & Glaciers tour and the Patagonia Hiking Exploration tour. Highlights of our Bariloche area Argentina tours include hiking, river rafting and kayaking in the park.

The park is located in the sub-Antarctic forest eco-region between the Patagonian plateau and the Andes in southwestern Neuquen Province and western Rio Negro Province. It is near the ski resort town of Bariloche and the village of Villa la Angostura. The park’s top sight to visit on Argentina tours is the 137,600-acre glacial lake from which it takes its name. Among its varied landscapes are high Andes, including 11,700-ft Mt. Tronador, arid Patagonian Andean forest, yellow and orange grasses of the Patagonian steppe. and at lower elevations, Valdivian forests. In spring, when the wildflowers bloom, the forests of the Nahuel Huapi become a colorful spectacle for visitors on Argentina tours.

Wildlife in the park that birdwatchers look for when they travel to Argentina include a marine species of the cormorant, the imperial, Andean condors, the country's largest concentration of the critically endangered southern river otter species (huillin), the gopher-like tuco tuco, pumas, wolves, guanacos and Patagonian hare as well as the rarely-seen huemel and puda.

Most of the indigenous peoples including the Tehuelches and Puhelches, who began inhabiting the region 10,000 years ago, were killed in the 1879-1883 immigrant settlement Desert Campaign.

The park's varied climates, ranging from areas of permanent snow to Valdivian rainforest with 158 inches of rain, are something to keep in mind when you schedule your Argentina tours.

Accommodations are plentiful for visitors on Patagonia tours, including camping zones, refugios and a variety of comfortable lodgings. The park allows fishing, water sports and cycling, and its 300 miles of marked trails range from short hikes to multi-day backpacking trips.

Lago Puelo National Park
Winter weather is cold and wet with snow, not a recommended time to visit this park during your travel to Argentina. Summers are mild with temperatures reaching 90F. Horseback riding, white river rafting and fly-fishing are popular activities in the park. Services for visitors on Argentina tours consist of a visitors' center, two camping zones and marked trails of varying distances. One can hike into Chile from the park. The closest towns are El Bolson, Lago Puelo and El Hoyo.

Los Alerces National Park
As with ancient forests elsewhere, the park's namesake tree has been threatened because of its high timber value coupled with heavy grazing. It has been a protected species in Argentina since 1945. The Alerce grows over two feet a year to a height of 220 feet, and its distinctive deep red bark, along with its leaves and resin, have medicinal qualities. The dense Alerce forests are located in the far western area of the park where some trees are between 2,500 and 3,500 years old, a memorable sight when you travel Patagonia on Argentina tours. The 650,000-acre park also contains forests of southern beech, lenga and bamboo, as well as limited areas of Chilean incense cedar and Guaiteca cypress. It has mountains, marshes, water mirrors, many lakes, rivers and streams. Its wildlife includes two deer species, huemul and the miniature puda, grey wolves and a variety of bird species.

The park offers ample tourist facilities for visitors on Argentina tours, including a visitors' center on the shores of Lake Futalaufquen. Its accommodations range from the famed lakefront Hotel Futalafquen, to cabins and camp sites for those who prefer a more rustic adventure when they travel to Argentina. Fishing is allowed. There are marked trails for hikes of various distances as well as routes for mountain bikes and horses. The most interesting of the hikes is the Circuito Lacustre, a lake circuit that entails navigating through the Futalaufquen, Verde and Menendez lakes and the Arrayanes River to get to the magnificent Alerce forest to view its oldest specimen, the 4,000 year old El Abuelo.

The park is located near the Futaleufu River where across the border in Chile, Southern Explorations offers three Patagonia tours, its thirteen-day Adventure Patagonia trip and its six-day and nine-day Futaleufu River Rafting trips.

Summer weather is mild. Photographers on Argentina tours prefer to visit in autumn when the park is most stunning. It snows a good deal during the winter months. The nearest town to the park headquarters is Esquel.