Southern Patagonia#3 in Best Things To Do in Argentine Patagonia
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Boasting jaw-dropping sights—including Perito Moreno Glacier, Mount Fitz Roy, and Cueva de las Manos—Southern Patagonia attracts culture-hounds and nature-seekers alike. Sitting beneath the Lake District and Atlantic Patagonia at Patagonia's southernmost tip, this rustic district sits to the east of the Chilean border, sprawling downward to the verge of Antarctica.
Most visitors descend upon El Chaltén or El Calafate to experience Patagonia's rugged backcountry. From El Calafate (a remote desert town that serves as the base to journey across Perito Moreno Glacier), you can relish the towering ice fields and far-stretching verdant forests. Daring hikers trek up jagged peaks and trek across the area's immense ice fields. Near El Calafate lies El Chaltén, a small town neighboring Mount Fitz Roy. From El Calafate, you can take an excursion to survey the Cave of the Hands' ornate and enigmatic cave arts.
The best ways to reach El Calafate and El Chaltén are by plane, bus, or car. A variety of plane services, including LAN and LADE, operate from Buenos Aires and other major Patagonian cities to El Calafate. El Chaltén is just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from El Calafate. For more information on how to reach El Calafate and other sites in Southern Patagonia, consult our guide to Getting Around Argentine Patagonia.
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#1 Argentine Lake District
Stretching across northwestern tip of Argentine Patagonia sits the picturesque Lake District. Sandwiched between the Andes mountains with Chilean Patagonia to the west and Atlantic Patagonia to the east, the Lake District contains breathtaking vistas from nearly every angle. San Carlos de Bariloche, known simply as Bariloche, serves as the region's major hub. Towering over the immense Nahuel Huapi Lake and the surrounding national park, Bariloche provides a tranquil setting for lounging outdoors, savoring local cuisine, and admiring the picturesque scenery. But Bariloche boasts more than natural beauty. Venture into Bustillo, the heart of the city, and you'll discover European architecture infused with local hardwood accents, which create a lofty urban setting. During July and August, you'll find idyllic skiing conditions, and, in January, you'll relish prime hiking and river rafting weather. We suggest visiting during November or March, when you can soak up the fresh air, marvel at postcard-perfect views of the Andes, and relax at a tucked away mountain retreat without heavy crowds.
From Bariloche, it's easy to travel to Cerro Catedral's luxurious ski retreat. It's also worth checking out Villa La Angostura (a lakeside village 50 miles north of Bariloche) and San Martín de los Andes (a scenic town 112 miles north of Bariloche). Both feature local craft markets and panoramic views.
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