Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Siete Lagos - The Patagonian lake region!


Destination: San Martin de Los Andes, Villa la Angostura, Villa Traful & the 7 Lakes Region

Number of Days: 2

Times we took the: Boat/Ferry - 0 Bus/Minivan - 0 Train/Subway - 0 taxi/car - 1

Where we stayed: Rosa de los Viajes - 144 pesos/night - $41 with breakfast and Internet

Favorite Restaurant: Pizza Cala - they had the best empanadas we have ever had for $1 each (3.5 pesos)

Best of: Amazing mountain lake scenery and the ability to come and go as we wanted with our very own rental car!

Worst of: Renting a car in the lake region is NOT cheap...a basic little car costs $41 per day and the children in the area like to steal the hood ornaments (resulting in a $80 replacement fee).

With our own wheels we decided it was time to take a road trip! After months of traveling by bus it felt great to have our own wheels! We set off on a two day trip from Bariloche to San Martin de los Andes through Villa La Angostura and Villa Traful. This region, like most of Patagonia, is all about the gorgeous scenery with unspoiled mountain lakes framed by green mountains.

We drove from Bariloche to Villa la Angostura (or just Villa) the first morning. Villa is the self-proclaimed "Most beautiful town in Argentina" and they certainly try and live up to that claim. All the buildings are wood with black roofs giving it that middle of the mountains feel. We stopped in for coffee and a snack and did a little window shopping. One gets the feeling that the rich hang out here while the average Joe heads for Bariloche. Back in the car, we continue our drive north and began the Seven lakes road. There are actually nine lakes along the road that is a mixture of gravel and pavement that goes between Villa and San Martin do los Andes (or just San Martin). The drive would only take a couple of hours if you drove straight through. With the scenery is as beautiful as this, we took the rest of the day stopping at scenic overlooks both marked and unmarked.

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We spent the night in San Martin de los Andes, yet another ski village with beautiful buildings and scenery to rival the rest of the area. We also had our best empanadas here at a little hole in the wall called Pizza Cali. There is also one named the same in Buenos Aires, but we don't think they are affiliated as the menu and look of each are totally different.

The next morning we set out to do the Big circuit. instead of heading all the way back through Villa, you take a turn to the left and check out another town along the way called Villa Traful. Tranquil and extremely low key, Traful is the kind of place you go to have a quite get away. Overlooking one of the most scenic lakes, the town is small enough to be quiet, but large enough to give you a few restaurant and hotel options. The overlook below and the fly fishermen are all of Traful lake.

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The last half of the Big Circuit passes through a wind swept landscape with rock formations known as the enchanted valley. All in all the drive is certainly more than worth it to get your own car. There are public buses that can take you from town to town, but trust us, you will want to stop and appreciate the scenery!

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To see more photos of the seven lakes region please click here!

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