Reasons to go to Nahuel Huapi National Park

  • Year-round destination in the centre of Argentina's Lake District.
  • Water sports on the lake, and a spectacular alpine setting for hiking and exploring by mountain bike.
  • Easily accessible from Bariloche, or from Chile via the Cruce Andino cross-border route

Guide to Nahuel Huapi National Park

Nahuel Huapi National Park

Nahuel Huapi National Park  (Parque Nacional Huapi in Spanish) owes its existence to the celebrated Argentine scientist-explorer 'Perito' Francisco Moreno, who donated a small section of the future park to the government in 1903, declaring that its sublime beauty should be preserved in perpetuity for the public. In 1934 it was officially gazetted as Argentina's first national park. It now covers nearly 720,000 hectares in Neuquén and Río Negro provinces.

The azure many-fingered 100km-long Lake Nahuel Huapi is the largest body of water in the park, which also includes Lakes Traful, Falkner and half a dozen others – all carved out by ancient glaciers, many of which still drain into the park. The western edge of the park is formed by the spine of the Andes which makes up the border with Chile, overlooked by the 3478m peak of the extinct volcano Cerro Tronador and Cerro Catedral, a popular winter sports destination.

In the summer months the park is a wonderful place for trekking, kayaking and white-water rafting.

What to see & do in Nahuel Huapi National Park

Hiking

Nahuel Huapi National Park

Hiking Hut to Hut in Bariloche, Nahuel Huapi NP

The jumble of mountains that dominate the southern part of the park, between Lake Nahuel Huapi and Lake Mascardi are a hiker's paradise, and are easily accessible from Bariloche. One of the best hikes is a three-night option from Cerro Catedral, traversing passes on trails leading around a succession of tiny blue lakes, and sleeping in a different mountain refugios each night. The trails are open from November to April, after which the Patagonian winter transforms Cerro Catedral into a ski resort (those who want some winter walking can hire snowshoes rather than skis).

In the west of the park, there is further hiking to be had at Pampa Linda in the shadow of Cerro Tronador. The glaciers of Ventisquero Negro and Castaño Overo are easily accessible by walkers. It's possible to trek to Cerro Tronador (a two day walk), but the peak itself is only accessible by climbers with a guide and ice wall experience.

Kayaking & Rafting

Kayaking in Nahuel Huapi National Park

Kayaking in Nahuel Huapi National Park

The Argentine Lake District's dramatic landscapes were carved out of the mountains over millennia by glaciers, and the same meltwaters make this one of the best regions for gentle exploration by kayak or on a more adrenaline-pumping white water rafting excursion. The calm waters of pocket-sized Lake Perito Moreno, barely separated from the Lake Nahuel Huapi itself by the Llao Llao peninsula is a great place to take to the water if you're a first-time kayaker.

On the main lake, the finger-like Brazo Tristesa is also popular with kayakers. The turquoise crystal waters of the Manso River are fed by the glaciers of Cerro Tronador and are perfect for rafting adventure as it passes through rocky escarpments and alpine forest. The river is at its liveliest during the Patagonian summer, with rapids running all the way up to Class 4. 

Things to do in Nahuel Huapi

Home to impressive Andes landscapes, vast Lakes and the fast flowing Rio Manso, Nahuel Huapi National Park is the perfect place for Trekking, Kayaking or Whitewater Rafting. Or if you fancy a bit of everything, take a look at our multi-sport adventures.

Swoop Says background image

Swoop says

The gateway to Nahuel Huapi National Park, Bariloche has become a very important tourist centre in Argentina. This city on the shore of the Lago Nahuel Huapi and is surrounded by the wonderful Lakes and Mountains of the park – spend some there in one of our recommended hotels.

Where to Stay in the Argentine Lakes?

Accommodation options in the Argentinian lakes range from luxury lodges and working estancias set in beautiful scenery, to hotels and hostels in the regions towns.

Accommodation Options

Landmarks in Nahuel Huapi

How to get to Nahuel Huapi National Park

Bariloche, on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi, is the gateway city to Nahuel Huapi National Park. San Carlos de Bariloche airport (code BRC) is 15km east of the city, and has several flights a day to and from Buenos Aires (two hours).

Bariloche is a four drive to San Martín de los Andes, with Villa la Angostura lying roughly halfway between the two.

Puerto Pañuelo on the Llao Llao peninsula on Lake Nahuel Huapi is the Argentine ferry terminus of the Cruce Andino cross border route to Chile, which takes a combination of boats and buses to link Bariloche to Puerto Varas and on to Puerto Montt. The whole trip takes a long half-day.

Ready to plan your Patagonia adventure?

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Next we'll discuss the options, shortlist the best trips for you and present you our impartial recommendations.

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Whatever your budget, group size, length of stay, preferred activity or appetite for adventure, we can help.

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