Nahuel Huapi National Park
The Nahuel Huapi National Park is an extensive protected area located southwest of the province of Neuquén and west of the Río Negro, in the Argentine Patagonia. The national protected area of Nahuel Huapi - out of a total of 709 474 ha - is subdivided into three zones with different levels of protection. The first one is the Nahuel Huapi national park, with 473 352 ha and with an optimal state of conservation; the second is the Nahuel Huapi national reserve, 160 686 ha, located east of the first but with a state of preservation less than the park, to have a less strict category than the previous to be encompassed mostly in private areas. The latter is subdivided into two national reserves called Zona Centro and Zona Gutiérrez.1 Finally, the third zone is the strict Nahuel Huapi natural reserve, of 75 436 ha, distributed in 6 sectors designated by Decree No. 2149/90 of 10. October 1990, which, due to its biological characteristics, must enjoy a much more rigorous degree of protection.3 It forms part of the Andean North Patagonian biosphere reserve since 2007.4
It is the oldest of the Argentine national parks. It was created by the Argentine government in 1934, on the basis of the donation of 3 square leagues (7000 ha) by Francisco Pascasio Moreno for this purpose. The park covers 717 261 ha, 5 in a strip of about 60 km wide by 170 km from north to south, lying on the Andes mountain range.6 Nahuel Huapi Park is internationally famous for its attractive geography in the which highlights Lake Nahuel Huapi, and Cerro Tronador which are complemented by a varied set of mountains, valleys, more than 60 lakes and lagoons, 7 and countless streams. The park, located between the altitudes of 700 masl and 3400 masl, stands out for its representative ecosystems of the Patagonian Andes, inhabiting more than a thousand superior botanical species, 8 and about 300 species of vertebrate animals. They are distributed in four environments: the high Andean, the Patagonian Andean forest, the humid forest and the Patagonian steppe.9
The geology of the Nahuel Huapi area is characterized by remnants of ancient rocks. Initially, the area was a relatively shallow seabed; 200 million years ago, volcanic phenomena began to appear with the eruption of igneous rocks. About 65 million years ago, the Cordillera de los Andes began its growth process, driven by the subduction of the Nazca plate beneath the Suramericana plate. In this process, the crust fractured, giving rise to a series of volcanoes. Later, about 2.5 million years ago, the accumulation of snow and ice began, forming glaciers in the mountain areas, which were descending through the valleys. The descending movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted numerous valleys with U-shaped profiles, which are part of the landscape that can be seen today.
The park is managed by the Administration of National Parks, which promoted the visit to the park and its various attractions by establishing an important tourist infrastructure, which included - for example - the construction of the Llao Llao Hotel and the Cathedral of Bariloche. The most populated city within the park is San Carlos de Bariloche located on the southern margin of Lake Nahuel Huapi, which serves as the main base for tourist activities, recreation, sports, and nature research that take place in the park . Villa La Angostura is another town located on the north shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi, within the confines of the park.
The Nahuel Huapi offers numerous alternatives for tourism and enjoyment of visitors that add up to 600,000 people per year.10 Activities that can be performed include hiking, skiing, rock and ice climbing, horseback riding, camping, sailing, fishing and boat trips and by car. During the winter, winter sports, including skiing, can be practiced at Cerro Catedral and Cerro Bayo.
A large number of species of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have been counted, including several that are threatened or in danger of extinction. The extensive forests and natural environments include a rich variety of plants, with a profusion of coihues, cypresses and larches. Among its characteristic fauna are condors, deer, wild boars, pumas and guanacos. In recent times, the threat posed by the activities carried out by man in the region has increased for the integrity of the park, its natural environments and the species that dwell in it.
The Nahuel Huapi National park is the oldest of Argentina's parks and was founded in 1934.
Flora and fauna
Since Buenos Aires by plane, Aerolineas Argentinas. By bus Via Bariloche and Crucero del Norte. By car see in the web INTERPATAGONIA or automovilclub guide.
At certain access points to the park you are required to pay the Park Entrance Fee of AR$50 (May. 2011). This fee is payable if going to Pampa Linda (Tronador) and if entering the park on a boat excursion; there is also also a AR$11 port tax. Access to the refuges in the National Park around Bariloche are free: Refugio Frey, Refugio Lopez, Refugio San Martin & Refugio Italia (you need to pay if staying overnight, but camping next to the refuges is free).
There is an excellent local public transport system from the centre of Bariloche to Llao Llao, Colonia Suiza and Cerro Catedral. There are tourist buses leaving to Pampa Linda (Tronador) on a daily basis during the summer.
The area is rightly famous for its barbecued meats, Parrillas "Boliche de Alberto" fondue "La Alpina", pizza "El Mundo de la Pizza", trout and deer "familia Weiss". Palacios Street has a lot of restaurants.
"Blest" the best beer. Wilkenny, Pilgrim, The map room, South bar - they are all a safe bet. Sip a little mate as well.
Most of the cheap accommodation is in the centre of the town for more information pass by the tourist office on Centro Civico where they have a full list of budget and not so budget accommodation.
Bariloches budget accommodation quickly gets fully booked, so make your reservations in advance, particularly during high season.
Camping in the National Park is permitted in the designated areas. There are free wilderness camp sites and paid sites with facilities.
If you go trekking you are required to register your intentions with the National Park, do so at their Information Centre (San Martin 24) or