Probably the most popular thing to do while visiting Patagonia is the Seven Lakes Trail that goes from Bariloche to San Martin de Los Andes and is roughly 100 km.
Showing off landscapes of infinite mountains covered with snow and trees, surrounded by pristine blue-and-turquoise lakes, this place makes me feel as though I am in Canada or Alaska.
The number of lakes isn’t precisely seven, but no one’s counting and it doesn’t really matter.
Most people start off from Bariloche which is where the majority of buses arrive from Buenos Aires. The trail can be done by car, bus, bike or hitchhiking. It can take a couple of days or a week depending on how much time you have and how slow you want to go…
From Bariloche my friends and I headed to Villa La Angostura, but before we reached our destination we decided to visit a hidden waterfall located in between the frontier of Argentina and Chile.
Customs must be done from Argentina to Chile in the nearest crossing border from Villa La Angostura and 15 km.
You will see a small sign on the right that starts a two or three hour trek to Santa Ana waterfalls.
The trek is truly splendid, passing by gorgeous scenery and culminating in a massive cave seemingly carved by some UFO visit.
Another interesting trek around is through the ‘Bosque de los Arrayanes’ (Arrayanes forest).
This forest is one-of-a-kind in the world since conditions for these amazing types of trees to grow in large quantities are quite peculiar. The trek can be done walking or by bike. It consists of a 26 km round trip with steep slopes and beautiful sights. For the tired/lazy/hungover people there’s a ferry that goes straight to the end of the forest. The cinnamon coloured trees with milky spots can be quite breathtaking bathed in sunset lights.
Our next destination was San Martin de Los Andes, a wood curveted town facing the Lácar lake surrounded by mountains.
This sweet spot for snow loving sports fans in winter is even more popular in summer. We decided to stay two nights here and do numerous activities consisting mainly in treks, bike rides and beautiful sunset viewings.
At night you can hop from bar to bar experimenting with different local breweries. San Martin de los Andes is a really popular destination amongst Argentineans, some who came back religiously every year!
San Martin de los Andes marks the end of the trail.
In-between the places I have mentioned there are the other remaining lakes which also host popular villages such as Villa Traful or trendy camping sites with ever growing numbers of tourists. Most people return to the town of Bariloche for future travels which usually mean heading down south to famous hippie town El Bolson.
The seven lakes trail experience provides the perfect combo of stunning nature, party and culture in a laid back, backpacker-friendly atmosphere.
Depending on what type of trip you are looking for you can party every night until the sun comes up, improve your fitness with all sorts of activities, meditate and surrender to nature’s beauty or become an expert in local delicacies. All of this, whilst getting under the skin of the eighth biggest country in the world.
TOP TIPS FOR ANYONE DOING THE SEVEN LAKES TRAIL
- The one thing you mustn’t forget is a thermos flask with mate!
- Where to stay while doing the trail will depend on your budget and sense of adventure… Hostels are abundant. Camping spots are as well, either free or paid.
- The one season I would recommend on booking in advance is summer – December to March.
- Temperatures can drop pretty low, even in summer time so make sure you bring the right clothes.
- Do not miss out on local delights such as trout, deer, wild boar, homemade sauco or zarzamora jams.
- Be sure to sample the local breweries!
By Joaquin Hourbeigt
1 thought on “On the Trail of the Seven Lakes in Patagonia, Argentina”
Hi! I am looking into backpacking from Bariloche to San Martin. How many days did it take you and your friends to backpack? How many hours did you hike a day? And what gear did you need to pack? Thanks!