After my lovely stay in San Martin, I decided to keep going with my North Patagonia trip and visit Villa la Angostura, another lake-side town where hiking and swimming are possible in the same place!
The Road of the Seven Lakes
San Martin links to Villa via the “Road of the 7 Lakes”, which literally is a 100km-ish stretch full of beautiful lakes and view points. I had the usual choice of getting a direct bus, however I wanted to stop along the way to see them all.
With car rentals WAY out of my budget (they were charging me twice because I would have not taken the car back to San Martin), I went asking the various tourist agencies in San Martin if I could do something pretty unusual (later, they told me this is very common instead): take part in an organised day tour, but take the suitcase with me and be left in Villa instead of going back to San Martin.
Money talks, so 650 pesos later I booked a mini-bus tour towards Villa. We stopped every now and again and the tourist guide was really nice. Honestly, the best lake is the very last, Lago Nahuel Huapi (and actually there are 8 lakes and not 7), so the tour is not a must-do as many websites preach. Anyway here are the pictures of the various stops, enjoy!
Villa la Angostura: a beautiful, lay-back town
Villa is still an under-developed touristy town with a much wider layout than San Martin, where you can instead walk from one side to the other in 30 minutes.
Villa is quite unusual, and really requires either a bike, a rental car or strong legs in order to enjoy it all. Starting from the town center, with lively restaurants, unfinished footpaths and wooden buildings, you can reach the Lake Correntoso after 4km towards the North West; you can go to the Port and the promontory 4km South; and you can drive East towards Bariloche and the ski resort.
This time I opted in for a hostel, which at the end was pretty comfy as it was located on the North side, somewhat halfway between the three ends of the town.
My Villa la Angostura experience started with a super tasty trout (I miss Irish salmon a lot!), and then I relaxed for the rest of the day with my usual cafe con leche.
I really liked Villa (probably more than San Martin I have to say) – for some reason it’s not extremely touristy and there are different things to do without any pressure. Houses are all lovely and built with stones and wood, my favourite style.
The whole town has a strict developing plan and no building is higher than 2 floors. The only thing is that most of the roads and footpaths are unfinished, and they can get really dusty at times – unless it rains of course.
Prices are not bad, and definitely not as high as Southern Patagonia…
Hike at Mirador Belvedere & Filo Falso
One of the days I packed a few sandwiches and apples and I went on a hike, starting from the hostel itself.
The hike – actually it’s more like a walk – to the Mirador Belvedere lasts for no longer than 40 minutes from the base of the trail. Once I got there and looked at the view (nice, but not satisfying), I saw a sign that said “3 hours to Filo Falso”, the mountain peak I originally wanted to hike.
Being ready for it, I just started the real hike – it would have been such a let down if I didn’t do it! Yet, this was one of the toughest hikes I’ve ever done – the trail was VERY steep, and I had to stop along the way quite a few times to catch my breath.
Well, the reward was exceptional. I reached a hill with a cross and the views of the lakes, the whole valley, the town and surrounding mountains were just amazing.
Clearly, I was not happy yet. I could see a much higher peak, apparently not that far from the cross, so I went for it. This time, I had to use my hands quite often and walk over sand, gravel, volcanic ashes and unstable rocks – pretty dangerous I have to say.
Oh, but I felt good once on top! I sat there for a few minutes, dried my t-shirt, looked at the eagles and had lunch. The view was just breathtaking!
Getting down was actually as tough as going up, quite rare I’d say. Thankfully I found 2 sturdy wooden sticks which helped me during the descent. Back at the hostel I felt very tired and soar, but happy I was able to hike Filo Falso without the need of transportation.
Rio Correntoso, the shortest river in the world?
The day after the hike I was pretty tired, so I took it “easy” and did a 8km loop to visit the North West side…
I got to the Rio Correntoso, which locals claim quite interestingly “the world’s shortest river”. It’s a 200m river (I wonder when it is a river and when it is just a stream?) that connects the Lake Correntoso to the Lake Nahuel Huapi, and looks beautiful.
Both lakes (so, on either side of the river) have lovely beaches. The one on the Correntoso lake is ideal for kayaking, beach volley and swimming – the one on the Nahuel Huapi is perfect for fly-fishing.
The views are awesome – once again.
The Quetrihué Peninsula & Los Arrayanes National Park
The day after I went to the Quetrihué Peninsula, a promontory that features a long walk in the forest, lovely flora and fauna.
It’s a 26km loop walk. Besides, I decided to walk to the entrance of the Park from my hostel, making it 30km (yes, I was tired after 30km, and I took a bus back to the town center instead).
The first 1km is VERY tough, no matter if you ascend or descend. I honestly thought I was never going to get to the end, but I did!
If you ask me if it was worth it, I’d honestly say this is an overrated hike/walk. For the first 8 kilometers nothing happens, and on the way up I started to feel pretty hungry and bored (maybe this is why I didn’t like it much).
But then, you get to enter the Arrayan tree forest, and here you get to see a unique species that only grows in the Chilean and Argentinian Andes. It looks really cool and, moreover, at the end of the walk you can sit on the beach and have lunch there (like I did).
On the way back I enjoyed the walk better, maybe because I took it easy and stopped several times to take a few pictures. It wasn’t as tough as the way over thankfully.
My 4 day stay in Villa was just wonderful. I believe this was one of the best locations I’ve visited so far… but I knew things were going to get even better.
Next stop – the glacier and a bit of hiking during Christmas.
Happy Holidays to you all and you’ll be amazed at my next article… keep sharing, commenting, liking and follow me during this adventure – your support is helping me a lot!