How to do the route of the 7 lakes in Patagonia, which joins San Martín de los Andes with Villa la Angostura. In this article we will delve into them.
Let’s locate ourselves on the map. We are in the province of Neuquén, the gateway to Patagonia Argentina for those coming from the north or center of the country. A small province but that can give you these spectacular landscapes in little more than 100 kms of travel. Yes, it would take anyone 1 hour to do this distance, but with such viewpoints, curves, switchbacks and more viewpoints, it will take you at least 2.5 hours.
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How to do the route of the 7 lakes in Patagonia
The route where the 7-Lake Road is located is nothing more and nothing less than the mythical Route 40. A rugged route that runs through the most beautiful landscapes of Argentina and connects more than 5,100 kms from La Quiaca in the province of Jujuy to Cabo Virgenes in the province of Santa Cruz. A route that all travelers dream of doing.
To do the 7 Lakes Route, we start in the city of San Martin de los Andes, which is located in the Lanin National Park, but most of the lakes we will cross until we reach Villa La Angostura are, in fact, inside the Nahuel Huapi National Park. It can also be done the other way around, from Villa La Angostura to San Martín de los Andes.
Although there are groups that make the trip between San Martín de los Andes and Villa La Angostura, the truth is that it is very difficult to find theor it is more convenient to do it by caras to have the freedom to stop whenever you wantor in an excursionYou will not only stop there, but they will also be able to explain things to you.
How to do the 7 lakes route from Bariloche
If you want to do the route of the 7 lakes from Bariloche by car, you have to take route 40 towards Villa La Angostura passing through Dina Huapi. A few meters from losing sight of Lake Nahuel Huapi, there is an intersection of routes 237 and 40. At this intersection, turn left and take Route 40 again towards the town of Villa La Angostura.
If you do not have a car, there are excursions that leave from Bariloche and travel the 7 Lakes Route from Villa La Angostura to San Martin de los Andes, returning the same day to Bariloche.
What are the 7 lakes of the Camino
The 7 lakes are:
– Lake Lácar
– Machónico Lake
– Falkner Lake
– Villarino Lake
– Hidden Lake
– Correntoso Lake
– Mirror Lake
Most of the lakes in the area have been named after Perito Francisco Moreno, a scientist, naturalist, traveler and geographer who was one of the precursors of the National Parks.
Isn’t Lake Nahuel Huapi part of the 7 Lakes Route? In theory no, but if we take the delimitation made by the majority that it is the road that joins San Martín de los Andes with Villa la Angostura. If you are looking for a viewpoint, then you should include it, since there are some viewpoints to this lake before arriving to this last city.
When it is convenient to do the route of the 7 lakes in Patagonia
While all times of the year are a beautiful time to hike this route, the viewpoints of the 7 Lakes Trail are best enjoyed outside of the winter season, when the route can be snowy or icy.
And then, if you have to choose a time in the day to do them, the best time is in the morning/midday. Most of the lakes and viewpoints are on the right side of the road if you are coming from the north. In the afternoon the sun starts to set on that side and the photos will be against it.
Throughout the tour, you can learn about the history of the place and the most characteristic flora and fauna thanks to the informative signs at each one. Regarding the latter, in this area one can find the “huemul”, an endangered deer; the golden green frog, whose skin works like that of the chameleon, that is, it changes color (depending on the occasion); the pancora, a small freshwater crab; or the huillín, a kind of otter.
Viewpoints of the route of the 7 Lakes
1) Viewpoints of Lake Lácar leaving from San Martín de los Andes
Leaving San Martín de los Andes, you will see a few viewpoints overlooking Lake Lácar. It is “dispensable” to stop to take pictures if you have already climbed to the Bandurrias or Arrayanes viewpoints, but if not, you can also see the snow-capped mountains and the city from another perspective. They are on Route 40 and you have to drive carefully, because there are usually a lot of people drinking mates, walking or chatting.
2) Viewpoint of Pil Pil stream valley
We did not stop at the viewpoint marked on the map, but a couple of curves before. Here you will not see “lakes”, but a beautiful valley with rural areas inhabited by Mapuche communities.
Next is the Arroyo Partido viewpoint, but we don’t stop here. I also wanted to tell you about its peculiarity: it is a stream that originates from the melt waters of Cerro Chapelco and reaches a point, at the height of the viewpoint, where the riverbed divides in two. The waters of one of the streams will end up flowing into the Pacific Ocean and the waters of the other into the Atlantic Ocean, not directly, but through other lakes and rivers where their waters end up.
3) Machónico Lake viewpoint
Machónico means “water with pancora” in the Mapuche language. Although we have to keep clarifying, at least what a pancora is, which is a very common freshwater crab in this area. The lake stretches along the viewpoint and the road and it is impossible to cover it in a single photo (unless you take a panoramic one). It is of glacial origin and it is very common to find people kayaking and other activities in the summer.
Next is the viewpoint of the Vuliñanco waterfall, but we don’t stop here either.
4) Falkner Lake viewpoint
Falkner Lake is one of the viewpoints on the 7 Lakes route that is best seen in the afternoon because, coming from the north, it is on the left side of the route and the sun illuminates the landscape better (the camera is not backlit). The parking lot of this lake is almost on the shore of the lake and not in a viewpoint from the heights.
Access to the water is easy and it is a beautiful place to have a picnic and drink some mates. The name is given by the hill that rises next to it, but actually comes from a Jesuit priest of the eighteenth century, Thomas Falkner. Another of the hills that imposes on the other side, in front of the Falkner, is the Cerro del Buque.
5) Lake Villarino viewpoint
Basilio Villarino was an 18th century explorer who helped with the Spanish colonization of the area, thanks to the diaries and maps he prepared. The viewpoint is not the prettiest, it is somewhat obscured by trees, but it still allows a glimpse of the dark blue of the lake.
6) Escondido Lake Overlook
As its name suggests, this lake is located right next to Route 40 but behind leafy trees through which you can barely see the green of the water. It is one of the smallest lakes in the circuit and has a magical color.
7) Correntoso Lake viewpoint
The name comes from the river that feeds this lake and that after a short journey flows into the Nahuel Huapi Lake. There are a couple of viewpoints on route 40 overlooking this lake and even the river flowing into the Nahuel Huapi.
8) Mirror Lake viewpoint
Like the Escondido Lake, this lake owes its name to the reflection of its waters. When we spent that afternoon, it was not mirrored because of the wind, but the previous day the lake was calmer and it was mirrored (although we did not stop to take pictures). The most outstanding peak is Campana. This is one of the viewpoints of the 7 Lakes route that we liked the most.
9) Viewpoint of Nahuel Huapi Lake
Before reaching Villa La Angostura, there are some viewpoints overlooking Lake Nahuel Huapi. But we have not stopped there, we have stopped on the way to Bariloche. We have been in Bahía Mansa and Brava, in Bahía Manzano and we have bordered the Huemul arm.
This photo is from a stop we made at a viewpoint, which had a small monolith with a flag of Argentina. From there, behind the dark blue of the lake and at the foot of the snow-capped mountains, you can see the city of Bariloche.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
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- Asia tickets with 12Go
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