Tips on visiting Los Alerces National Park

Trip Start Dec 02, 2008
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14
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Trip End Dec 26, 2008


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Where I stayed
Lago Verde Wilderness Resort

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Here are some tips about visiting Los Alerces National Park:

    The drive from Bariloche and the time in Los Alerces was definitely worth doing.  You get a sense of the raw beauty of Patagonia.  The rivers, lakes and mountains open your senses and give a feeling of breathing room that encourages rejuvenation.  The nearest town is Esquel, 70 km on the gravel road southeast of Lago Verde, which is in the north section of Los Alerces.  This park is for nature lovers; the park has been minimally commercially developed and still retains a wilderness feel; the western two thirds of the park has been designated a strict scientific reserve and is off limits.  If you are looking for a charming resort town experience with restaurants, shops and a selection of hotels, this would not be your park of choice.

    We were glad that we came in December.  We had good weather and there were not many other visitors in the north section of the park.  We were delighted that we had walking paths to ourselves, that the El Abuelo boat excursion wasn't packed, and that the Lago Verde Wilderness Resort campgrounds and other public campgrounds had only a few campers.  In the peak season of January and February, it would be unlikely to have the lake side in front of our Hosteria El Aura cabanas to ourselves and that precious silence in the night might have been missed.  We understand that the fall months are beautiful as the deciduous trees are in full bloom.

    Thanks to Anna from Wild Patagonia (http://www.wild-patagonia.com), we chose to stay in the northeastern section of the park as it is supposed to be the most interesting for the visitor and the area around Lago Verde is a convenient base for day trips.  This minimized the amount of time spent driving each day, leaving more time to enjoy outdoor activities of our choice. 

    Definitely be aware of the horse flies in December; we are not sure what other months they are here.  Some areas not so bad, but on the Laguna Escondido hike it was really bad. Pack long pants and shirts as well as hats for sun and bug protection.

    A must do is the boat and hike excursion to El Abuelo.  Reserve the boat ride in advance!  We did this through El Aura/Lago Verde Wilderness Resort.  They will have the tickets ready for you and if there are any scheduling changes, they will handle that for you.  If you are not staying at El Aura, be sure to check with the boat company a few days before to make sure that it is still going as scheduled. The company is BrazoSur and you want to take the Safari Lacustre; the website is  http://www.brazosur.com.ar

    We had a few hours on Lago Verde and Rio Arrayanes in a small boat and thoroughly enjoyed it! Consider a full day on the lakes; ask El Aura and they will arrange it.  Gabriel, Anna's husband, had suggested that we go by boat to the Estrecho del Monstruouso, near Lago Kruger.  With more time on the water, this would have been possible.

    To make the drive worth it from Bariloche, plan at least 3 nights, 2 full days.  We did 5 nights/4 days and felt it was just right for us.  Plan one day to do the excursion to El Abuelo.  There are a number of options to choose among in the north section of park.  These include:
The walk along the Rio Arrayanes (see day #11)
The Lago Verde Overlook and combined with the boat ride offered by El Aura (see day #9)
Lago Escondido hike (see day#10)
Full day on the water in a boat
Fly fishing - the area is famous for the rich colors of the lakes and fishing
Hiking - see guidebook reference below - includes all areas of the parks with easy, moderate and demanding hikes.  El Aura can also email you information on daylong guided hiking near the Torrecillas Glacier as well as a Three Lakes Four Rivers day excursion.

    Get a copy of the "Guias and Sendas Bosques for El Bolson and Parques Nacionales Lago Puelo and Los Alerces".  It includes English abstracts of hikes, walks and boat rides as well as a glossary/dictionary to help understand the Spanish.  The local maps are excellent and the Spanish is simple, so you can get the gist of what is written.  ISBN:  987-20080-7-8.  Website:  http://www.guiasendasybosques.com.ar  Anna gave us a copy, however it can be purchased on line and most likely locally. They have other titles within Patagonia. 

    If you are staying in the northern section of the park and arriving from the north, you will most likely not make the 55km drive on the gravel road to the park's information center.  So get information on what you are interested in doing before your arrival.
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