rgentina. The name conjures up images of Evita Peron, soccer player Diego Maradona (considered by many to be the greatest footballer of all time), the pampas and its colorful gauchos, the tango, the long beaches along its Atlantic coast, Buenos Aires and Carnival.
But there is so much more. Beyond its beaten tourist paths lies a country of astounding variety that offers up a full range of experiences to savor and enjoy.
The most visited country in South America and the fourth most visited in the Americas, Argentina is the second largest country in South America. It covers nearly 1.5 million square miles, or 29 % of the area of Europe; it stretches 2,150 miles from north to south and nearly 1,000 miles from east to west. She claims international frontiers that stretch across nearly 16,000 miles, most of it being along the Atlantic ocean, but on the west Argentina is bounded by Chile across the Andes mountains. The Argentine Andes rise to a height of 22,831 ft. at Aconcagua, the highest elevation in the Americas.
One of the largest regions of Argentina is known as Patagonia. This is the south of Argentina, from the Andes to the Atlantic coast, and is one of the most beautiful, varied and wildest regions in the world. (It was off the coast of Patagonia that researchers made the startling discovery that Southern Right whales enjoyed swimming across a certain bay, then using their great tails as sails to sail back across to the other side– apparently just for fun.) Patagonia was one of the special places chosen by PBS as a “Living Eden”. That should tell you something.
Patagonia has an area of around 300,000 square miles and comprises five provinces: Neuquén, Rio Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego. Its tourist capital is the world-famous city of San Carlos de Bariloche.
The province of Neuquén is a land of deep lakes and soaring mountains dotted by thousands of apple-growing farms. In the Seven Lakes area of Neuquén there is a lake called Nahuel Huapi. It is glacial in origin, fiord-like with its deeply cleft coasts and numerous little bays. Its water is clean and clear and achingly blue.
San Carlos de Bariloche, located on the southern coast of that lake, will be your starting point. Two hours by plane from Buenos Aires, Bariloche is in the center of the Nahuel Huapi National Park. The city has a permanent population of 108,205 according to the 2010 census. Remarkable for its beauty, this is one of the most important tourist centers in Argentina and special enough for a vacation desination in its own right. A strong Swiss influence along with the beauty of its flowers and gardens (and its chocolate production!), contributes to the charm of this alpine city. The climate is continental cold, with an average winter temperature of 35 F and, in the summer, an average of 65 F.
For those historians or conspiracy lovers among you, Bariloche made headlines in the international press in 1995 when it became known as a haven for Nazi war criminals such as the former SS Hauptsturmführer Erich Priebke. Priebke had been the director of the German School of Bariloche for many years.
In his 2004 book Bariloche nazi-guía turística, Argentine author Abel Basti claims that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun lived in the surroundings of Bariloche for many years after World War II. The estate of Inalco has been pointed out by Abel Basti as the place that Argentine Nazis chose as Hitler’s refuge.
Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler, published by British authors Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams, proposed that Hitler and Eva Braun hid at Hacienda San Ramon, six miles east of Bariloche, until the early 1960s. This account is disputed by other historians.
Besides tourism and the many activities and services associated with it, Bariloche is also home of advanced scientific and technological activities. The Centro Atómico Bariloche is a research center of the National Atomic Energy Commission, where basic and applied research in many areas of the physical sciences is carried out. Inside it, the Instituto Balseiro, a higher education institution of the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, with a small and carefully selected number of students, awards degrees in Physics, and in Nuclear and Mechanical Engineering, and Masters and Doctorate degrees in Physics and in Engineering. The city also hosts INVAP(AP=Applied INV=Research), a high technology company that designs and builds nuclear reactors, state-of-the-art radars and space satellites, among other projects.
Leaving Bariloche there is a route that borders the northern margin of Nahuel Huapi Lake past Puerto Manzano to Villa La Angostura, your ultimate destination.
Now you’re in fairytale land.
La Angostura is considered among the main attractions of Argentina’s Andean Patagonia not only because of the wooden town itself, but also because of the beauty of its sights. On its west side is the Nahuel Huapi Lake, and to the east, the Correntoso Lake. Both lakes are connected by the Correntoso River, which, with 200 meters of length, is one of the sport fishing destinations around La Angostura.
The architecture of the town follows a stylized Alpine wooden style similar to that of Bariloche’s city centre. There are shops and restaurants of artisanal products such as chocolate, beer and trout. It’s categorised as a mountain village, even though it has approximately 11,000 inhabitants.
Only 45 k from the border with Chile, this village is set in a lovely spot surrounded by beaches and thick forests. It has all the amenities you could ask for, from specialty boutiques for shopping to gourmet restaurants to live entertainment. Asado criollo (local style barbecue) is a favorite here— accompanied by a fine Argentinian wine— or the staff almost anywhere will be happy to cook up your catch of the day for you.
In the summertime, which is December through March, you might want to try your hand at fly fishing, mountain biking, trekking, tennis, bird watching or boating. Among the main attractions, the Myrtle Forest, an exclusive natural relic in the area, can be accessed on foot, by bike or on a catamaran sailing across the lake.
In winter skiing is king. Cerro Bayo, a double summitted mountain, is the main place for this activity, just 6 miles from Villa La Angostura in a postcard setting. It has 11 ski lifts and 12 miles of ski trails. The lifts can carry 4,000 skiers per hour. This ski resort is located between 3,445 and 5,840 feet above sea level.
The place where you will want to stay is the wonderful dual-affiliated Interval International (Select) / RCI Gold Crown resort Bahia Manzano, with lake views from every rustic apartment and bungalow. The apartments are made of native woods and stone and will keep you cozy, spoiled and as well entertained as you please.
Comprised of 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units, some suites feature fireplaces, along with partial kitchens with microwaves. The 3-bedrooms feature full kitchens, two bathrooms and sleep eight in privacy.
Surrounded by forests and hills, Bahia Manzano is beautiful in every season (remember that because it’s in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed from the Northern Hemisphere). A restaurant and parrilla, exercise room, paddleball and tennis courts, heated outdoor swimming pool, and clubhouse are on-site. Also on the grounds are a tea house, sauna, and children’s playroom, and just about everything else you might need or want.
Americans have not discovered this magnificent area in great numbers yet, which can be to your advantage. If you like to take your vacations in places that are not on the main tourist routes, if you like a little adventure without having to suffer for it, if you enjoy nature and outdoor activities– this could very well be the right place for you. And bring the kids!
Give Bahia Manzano a whirl, and don’t wait too long. The big world of tourism is beginning to discover it!
Some websites you might want to visit for more information:
- http://www.bahiamanzano.com The resort’s website
- http://www.villalaangostura.net.ar/ Spanish; This site has some lovely photos
- http://laangostura.com/ Spanish and English; Images, maps and a good information, travel and tourist guide of Villa La Angostura and surroundings.
- http://www.patagonia-argentina.com/en/ All about Patagonia
- http://www.neuquentur.gov.ar/ About the province of Neuquen (in Spanish and English)
- http://www.patagonia-travel.com/ Spanish and English; Patagonia travel guide
“On the Road” is a compilation of destination ideas, resort reviews, videos and more gathered from a variety of sources that includes our readers.
The purpose of "On the Road" is to showcase some of the magnificent places in the world to visit, to give you an idea for someplace to go that you might previously not have thought of or known about. In most cases, but not all, we have provided a brief overview of a timeshare resort in the spotlighted area. Most of those resorts are either RCI Gold Crown or I.I. Premier quality. However, these resorts are not usually the only timeshare resorts in the area; be sure to check in your exchange catalog for a complete listing of available resorts. Check it out--- enjoy yourself, go somewhere new this year!
Readers are encouraged to contribute their own stories and photos. Email email@example.com and put "On the Road" in the Subject line so we'll know what it's about.