The northern Lake District has become Patagonia’s most popular tourist region. Spread over three states and encompassing more than a million hectares (2½ million acres) of nature preserves, it offers more than natural beauty. The hundreds of sapphire lakes here allow visitors to experience an array of outdoor activities. Lakes such as Lago Nahuel Huapi and Lago Puelo are the focal points of eponymous national parks; at both you can choose between fishing, boating (whether in a kayak, raft, or motor launch), and swimming from a pretty playa.
Back on dry land other recreational opportunities await. In the warmer months, horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking are popular pastimes; climbing Volcán Lanín for a wraparound view of the sublime landscape is another memorable option. In winter, conversely, snow-sport enthusiasts head for the hills. Cerro Catedral (the continent’s oldest ski area) is notable for its size, terrain, and superb setting, while smaller areas like Chapelco attract mostly vacationing Argentineans and Brazilians.
A broad range of accommodations—ranging from rustic refugios and classic ranches to luxe destination hotels—cater to these travelers year-round. Yet despite growing popularity and heightened accessibility from developed towns like San Martín de los Andes and Bariloche, first-time visitors are constantly amazed at how easy it is to lose yourself in a silent forest, on a rugged mountaintop, or by one of the district’s beautiful namesake lakes.