An alpine hub in Argentina's Lake District, Bariloche is considered one of the most scenic spots in the country offering a plethora of year-round activities. Starting in Buenos Aires, you'll fly to the Andean foothills on the shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake for a series of treks, history tours, and kayaking excursions while enjoying the town's numerous restaurants and chocolate shops.

Highlights

  • Explore Buenos Aires by foot and hit a steakhouse for dinner
  • Sip afternoon tea at a luxurious chalet-style hotel on a lake
  • Trek with a guide who will share local history (followed by a beer tasting)
  • Camp amongst the alpine scenery during a two-day hike
  • Kayak near a beautiful beach on Mascardi Lake

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City Buenos Aires
Day 2 Fly from Buenos Aires to Bariloche Bariloche
Day 3 Half-Day Bariloche History & Nature Tour Bariloche
Days 4-5 Two-Day Trek to Emilio Frey Refuge Bariloche
Day 6 Kayaking & Trekking on Mascardi Lake Bariloche
Day 7 Bariloche to Buenos Aires - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City

The Obelisco, a central monument in Buenos Aires
The Obelisco, a central monument in Buenos Aires

Welcome to Argentina! Renowned as the "Paris of South America," and the "Queen of El Plata," the capital city of Buenos Aires is defined by passion. This is exemplified in the rich tango heritage and its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), which is far and away the country's most popular sport. 

When you arrive at the airport, your driver will be waiting to take you in a private car to your hotel where you can relax after a long flight. But make no mistake: the city will beckon you. So after a quick recharge, be sure to venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. The best starting point would be the city center.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most famous icon of the city. This obelisk (which even Argentines admit is a little too reminiscent of the Washington Monument) is worth a visit for its location alone. It sits right in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio, which boasts a whopping 16 lanes, making it the widest city street in the world.

  • Stop by the Teatro Colon, one of South America's premier opera houses. The horseshoe-shaped gallery features 2,487 seats and incredible acoustics. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here on another day, it's always breathtaking to pass by its exterior. The Colon's neoclassical facade has been the face of one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.

  • Stroll Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to downtown. Puerto Madero may be the "new money" finance center of Buenos Aires, but it's also one of the most pleasant walking areas in a city famous for its walking areas. A romantic stroll involves walking over the canal on the Puente de Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset. 

  • Dine at an Argentine steakhouse or parilla. When night falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and enjoy a thick, juicy steak (Argentina has some of the best beef in the world) drizzled with the nation's famous chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce). Know that Buenos Aires is a culture that thrives after dark, and it's not uncommon for locals to have dinner well past nine in the evening, especially on weekends. 

Day 2: Fly from Buenos Aires to Bariloche

The beautiful shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi
The beautiful shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi

At the scheduled time a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to Aeroparque Airport, located in the city. You will then catch a flight to San Carlos de Bariloche, located southwest in Argentina's Lake District

San Carlos de Bariloche was founded in 1902 on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi, which itself is part of the larger Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi. If you detect some native influence in that name, you're correct. It comes from the Mapuche indigenous people who once inhabited the area, and it means "jaguar island." The lake straddles the Chilean border, with the city of Bariloche located on the southeast shore. This region is beautiful and you'll be able to experience its majesty on nature hikes and excursions.

Upon arrival at Bariloche's airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. Even though you may be tired from your flight, try to get out and explore the city. The charming chalet-style buildings and alpine architecture can be seen and enjoyed on a brisk walk around, and the city center abounds with waterfront plazas, chocolate shops, and upscale restaurants. 

Some suggested activities in and around Bariloche include: 

  • Stroll Mitre Street, the main drag that runs through downtown. Here you'll experience all the buzzing commerce of the city, including souvenir shops, clothing stores, and confectioners. It also runs near the waterfront, which only enhances the pleasantness of the walk.

  • Visit the five-star Hotel Llao Llao, the nicest hotel in Bariloche, and quite possibly the nicest in all of Argentina. This expansive chalet-style hotel sits on a small peninsula overlooking the lake and is the embodiment of mountain luxury. Even if you're not staying here, you can stop in for a full afternoon tea service complete with decadent desserts like brownies and chocolate mousse. 

  • Ride a cable car to the top of Cerro Campanario. Located just a couple of kilometers outside town, the view from atop this 1,050-meter (3,444-foot) high mountain is nothing short of breathtaking as you're treated to panoramic views of Lago Nahuel Huapi and the snow-covered mountains that surround it. There's also a restaurant and lounge at the top.

When dinnertime comes around, be sure to sample the local cuisine. You'll find that it differs considerably than what's typically found in Buenos Aires. Here regional fare like wild boar and lake trout is popular and delicious, as is the fondue (a culinary addition first introduced by the city's Swiss immigrants).

Day 3: Half-Day Bariloche History & Nature Tour

Take a ride up to the top of Cerro Campanario
Take a ride up to the top of Cerro Campanario

In the morning you'll partake in an active history lesson as a guide leads you on a tour in and around Bariloche. Along the way, he or she will explain the legacy of the city and its surrounding locales. This tour comprises a classic circuit that covers the city as well as some of the most famous viewpoints outside of it, like Cerro Campanario and the Llao Llao Peninsula. The former offers panoramic views of Lago Nahuel Huapi from its summit, while the latter is the site of the most impressive hotel in the country, Hotel Llao Llao

Over the course of this tour, your guide will explain how San Carlos de Bariloche evolved relatively quickly from a small mountain village into one of the most attractive and popular cities in Argentina. As you experience the natural beauty of the region and hike around its terrain, you'll begin to understand why Bariloche was voted Argentina's national capital of adventure tourism. At the end of the tour, you'll visit a local microbrewery for lunch and a beer tasting.

Days 4-5: Two-Day Trek to Emilio Frey Refuge

Laguna Toncek
Laguna Toncek

Today, you'll start a two-day hike to/from Emilio Frey Refuge on the banks of picturesque Laguna Tonchek, surrounded by a variety of Argentinan scenery.  Due to its easy access and great views, this is one of the most popular trekking destinations in the country.

The overnight adventure starts at a ski resort near the top of the Cerro Catedral lift and travels through natives forests, allowing you to observe the local fauna and flora. In fact, you will be accompanied by stunning landscapes, including forests, lakes, and towering peaks, the entire way.

The trail follows the left-hand side of the small stream flowing out of Laguna Schmall and zig-zags down one of numerous paths into the valley below. Either continue to the left of the Laguna Toncek or cross the flat-bottomed valley to the right-hand side of the lake (take your pick!) arriving at Emilio Frey Refuge, located 5577 feet (1700 m) above sea level. There, you will be served dinner and spend the night in sheltered tent sites.

The next morning, after breakfast at camp, you'll descend the normal route through the forest, about 3 to 4 hours to the base of the ski resort at Cerro/Villa Catedral. You will then be transferred back to your hotel in Bariloche in the late afternoon.

Day 6: Kayaking & Trekking on Mascardi Lake

Enjoy lunch on the shore of Lago Mascardi
Enjoy lunch on the shore of Lago Mascardi

Today is a special day, with a combined excursion that mixes kayaking on Lago Mascardi with a nature trek through the forest. The adventure begins with a pickup at your hotel followed by a 45-minute drive south of Bariloche along the famed Ruta 40 to the lake.

Your first destination is a lakeshore campsite owned by the local indigenous community. Here you'll hop into your kayak and begin paddling for Playa Leones, the most beautiful beach on Mascardi. Once you arrive at this tranquil pebble beach you'll be able to relax on shore and enjoy the surrounding wilderness.  

Afterward, you'll embark on a nature trek through native coihue forest until you reach a secluded lagoon. Then it's time to head back to Playa Leones, where you'll enjoy lunch while relaxing on the shore. Finally, you'll kayak back to the starting point and return to Bariloche in the late afternoon.

Day 7: Bariloche to Buenos Aires - Departure

Goodbye, Argentina!
Goodbye, Argentina!

Having experienced Argentina's unforgettable south, you will transfer from your hotel to the airport and hop a flight back to Buenos Aires. This is where you started your journey and it's also where everything comes full circle, as you'll now take a connecting flight back home. 

Despite the bittersweet goodbye, rest assured that we will be waiting for you with open arms should you ever decide to return!

Map

Map of Trekking in Bariloche - 7 Days
Map of Trekking in Bariloche - 7 Days