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Lakes District: Where to Base for 10 days

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Jun 27th, 2014, 12:35 PM
  #1
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Lakes District: Where to Base for 10 days

Hello, still here!
At the point of making reservations where we think we will need them for our retirement trip.

Thinking we will be in the Lakes District of Chile and Argentina for 3 weeks January and February. We would like to rent a place for 7-10 days of this timeframe and take day trips, both driving, hiking and cycling. Still sorting through the pros and cons of areas in Chile and Argentina. Have looked at Pucon, Puerto Varas, San Martin de los Andes, Bariloche and Villa Angustura.

We envision a place where we could eat out well, have a glass of wine in a lively place, take scenic car trips and do some hiking, etc. returning to a quiet apartment at end of day. We are willing to rent a car as needed.

I know we are going at a popular time of year and thought best reserve now.

Any thoughts appreciated.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 03:30 PM
  #2
 
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The thing is, that any day trip crossing the border isn't really a day trip. Add going and returning and you have used the day. It is a large area which includes the places you mention.

From Pucón you have good access to San Martin de Los Andes. From Bariloche you have good access to Villa la Angostura and Puerto Varas. But between San Martin and Bariloche you have a 3.5 hr road trip by the fastest route. Between Pucón and Puerto Varas would be 5 hr or so.

Have you considered a circular route? Something like: Bariloche/Villa la Angostura/Puerto Varas/Pucon/San Martin/Bariloche. You would not spend all your nights in one place. The places with the most to do if you are based in them are Bariloche, Pucón and Puerto Varas.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 05:39 PM
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I read your message to mean that in addition to traveling in the area for the other 1.5 to 2 weeks, you also want to base yourselves somewhere in the region for 7 to 10 days. If this is correct, my suggestion is to think about which area has things you'd like to do for a week or more, and which areas you'd rather pass through for a few days each.

Of the places you mention (Pucon, Puerto Varas, San Martin de los Andes, Bariloche and Villa Angustura), Bariloche would be the most lively, though personally I find it very touristy and would opt for a smaller town. I liked but didn't love Puerto Varas, and I don't think it is as nice as the other places on your list.

I would choose either Pucon, for the outdoor activities in the area, or Villa, because it is lovely and you can easily access Nahuel Huapi National Park, Los Arrayanes Nat'l Park, and the siete lagos. Since I like Argentine food and accents more than Chilean, and it is less rainy in Argentina, I'd probably choose Villa.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 07:10 PM
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My favorite place on your list is San Martin. I thought it a lovely town and much nicer than Bariloche. However, I'm not sure what day trips can be done from there.
I think the food is ARG is far superior to any I had in Chile.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 09:54 AM
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I would split your time between Chile and Argentina. Based on my experience I would chose Puerta Varas in Chile, but I had terrible weather in Pucon and there is more to do there if you have good weather, and Bariloche in Argentina for the spectacular views. I thought San Martin was a bit on the small side. Also, you can connect PV and Bariloche with the bus-and-boat tour. (Click on my name for my TR, or start here: http://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com/...go-llanquihue/ )

Another possibility in Argentina is El Bolson. I didn't get there, although I was tempted, because it's a bit out of the way, but from the description in my guidebook (Moon's "Patagonia") it would be a good place to chill out for a while, and hike, provided you're OK with "counterculture".
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Jun 28th, 2014, 04:51 PM
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Huentetu, Pantanal is right, we have 3 weeks to explore the Lakes region including Chile and Argentina and plan on a road trip for this. The week we are considering will be spent in one place and day trips will be for hiking, biking or short road trips. It sounds as if your suggestion of a circular route with a one week stay along the way is a good idea.

Pantanal and Yestravel, I am now torn between San Martin and Villa. Because we will be there a week we do want plenty of options for recreation and dinners out, etc. I had originally thought Bariloche as there are tons of outdoor activities available but our daughter stayed there for 2 weeks with her family and advised against it as too "touristy" and we will be there in the height of the tourist season. We did think of renting outside of town but her experience of the bus system for multiple trips in and out of town to eat, etc. put us off from that.

Thursdaysd, I have to laugh, not put off by counterculture as we once considered ourselves as such (maybe still) and we think being a vegetarian in Argentina may be a bit iffy, so counterculture reads a more veggie friendly place. El Bolson is also attractive as visiting the Los Alceres Park is high on our list. Our son-in-law thought it was heaven.

Frankly this whole last portion of our trip which comes after Patagonia is throwing me off some. I would be up to "winging it" more (read travel control freak here) but am worried about the fact that we will be in this area during high tourist season. But quite frankly I am reaching my limit on trip planning!

It might help to add that we will be finishing our trip in Santiago where I have planned 3 nights in Santiago and a 3 night stay in Valparaiso before flying home . So I will want to end up on the Chilean side of the Lakes region. Not sure if we have to fly out of Puerto Varas .

We actually have 35 days from leaving TDP to spend before shipping home from Santiago. But we did want to take a look at the southern part of the carretera austral during that time.

Will digest all you comments and hopefully it will call become clear. Any other thoughts will be appreciated. Thank you.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 05:33 PM
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I would not recommend winging it. I was there before high season and when I had to switch accommodation in Bariloche at very short notice there were not many options. I lucked out into a very nice place, but it was the fifth or sixth I tried.

I will repeat my recommendation for Bariloche over Villa or San Martin, unless you opt for El Bolson. They are ALL touristy, but I think there is more to do around Bariloche.

How do you feel about boats? I definitely recommend the bus-boat crossing between PV and Bariloche, but do you also know about the Navimag ferry up the Chilean coast?
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Jun 28th, 2014, 05:52 PM
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Puerto Varas is too small for an airport but Puerto Montt airport is just 20-30 minutes away.

Villa la Angostura is smaller than San Martin de los Andes. It is basically just one main road with small shops and some restaurants. Most of the nicer places to stay are outside the town but, if you have a car, that should not be a problem. I would not stay in the town unless you had to.

Villa la Angostura has one business: tourism. The much larger Bariloche is really a small city in an extraordinary location but does have traffic problems in summer. Again, there are places out along the lake on Avenida Bustillo which are very nice. The address will tell you how far from the center of Bariloche they are: Av Bustillo km. 14.5 means you would be 14.5 kilometres from town.

San Martin de los Andes is small, but bigger than Villa la Angostura, It is a pleasant town on the edge of Lake Lacar. There are excursions by road and by boat from there. You don't need a car in the town as it is flat, built on a grid system and full of restaurants and lodging. Their tourist info office is good.

Puerto Varas is nicer as a town than Pucón but Pucón has the hot springs in abundance and more outdoor activities. You are up against the Andes so you either cross to Argentina from there or backtrack to other destinations in the area. Huerquehue national park is very nearby and Conguillio (my favourite park) is not too far away. Puerto Varas is better placed to connect to other towns in the lake district.

All of them have something to be said in their favour. That's what makes deciding so difficult! Take a few days off to think about it and do look at some maps.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 07:36 PM
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I think Huentetu gives you great descriptions of your options. I would agree that the outskirts of Bariloche is nice and if you have a car, that might make it doable. But I agree that the bus service was pretty bad.

We stayed in Villarrico which is very close to Pucon. The owners of the B&B we stayed in had a host of activities that one could do. We were only there a few days, but there was plenty to do.

Agree that the boat bus boat deal is a great way to go for your circle.

You might check out our TR http://www.fodors.com/community/sout...-chile-arg.cfm. In the TR we give descriptions of the various towns you are considering.

I also agree with thursday -- I wouldn't chance winging it during high season.
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Jun 30th, 2014, 08:10 PM
  #10
 
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Huentetu has given good descriptions of the towns. While I loved Villa, and coming back each evening to our inexpensive but lovely hotel, with chairs on the lawn overlooking the lake, after a day of great local activities, we were only there for 3 days, so you may want to ensure there is enough to do for a week.

We are also vegetarians, and I found the food in Villa to be very good. In general, I found it much easier to get good meals as vegetarians in Argentina than Chile, as long as you like Italian food. I think it was easier to be vegetarian in Argentina, as a whole country, than any other country in South America except Suriname (except for in capitals/big cities).

I think San Martin or Villa would be nice for a week, though I also have to agree that there are fabulous hikes and outdoor activities out of Bariloche.
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Jul 2nd, 2014, 08:19 AM
  #11
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wow, lots to think about though the Lakes crossing is a now a for sure.

yestravel, thanks for the recommend of Villarriico. We will add that to the mix. And thanks for the link to your report. I had bookmarked it many moons ago but it got lost in the thousands of bookmarks for the trip planning.

Our plan is to go from Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales and then bus to Coyhaique or Puerto Arenas and fly to Balmaceda. After 2 weeks or so exploring the Carretera area we will move on to the Lakes region. It probably makes sense to cross over into Argentina and head north (still undecided for that 'stay put ' week) and then cross over to Chile as we end up in Santaigo for flight home. If we do the lakes crossing, how much time should we allocate to the Chilean side? And should we include a few days on Chiloe as it seems we will have to be in Puerto Montt to fly to Santiago. Am also considering a bus trip from the Lakes region to Santiago, any thoughts or experience with that trip?

Pantanal, thanks for the note on being a vegetarian. I am now more optimistic. BTW, do you remember the name of the "inexpensive but lovely hotel" you mention?
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Jul 2nd, 2014, 08:43 AM
  #12
 
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It was the Hotel Angostura, near the boat dock where you can rent bikes, take a boat to Arrayanes National Park, hike in the park and then cycle back to the hotel. A fun day! Don't forget to have alfajores for a snack at the confiteria at the park!
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Jul 2nd, 2014, 09:19 AM
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The bus/boat lake crossing, Cruce Andino, will mean rethinking where you rent a car, but it should reduce your costs a bit if you are not renting to cross a border. January is fairly crowded in Chile but February can be packed. That does limit wandering a bit ad just following your nose. A car does give you access to more lodging, so you may wish to risk it in places. Many of the nicest places are not right in towns. The only place where I think it is really worth staying in town is San Martin de los Andes. If you want the biggest variety of excursions and activities, Bariloche and Pucón fit the best, although they are not necessarily the nicest places to stay.

Once you have been on Ruta 7 (the Carretera Austral) and Torres del Paine, most scenery pales a bit by comparison. But, if the weather looks alright, Chiloe is still worth visiting. I don't think a day trip does it justice, so you would need a couple of days. The thing is, you could spend weeks exploring the lake district.

Most Argentines vacation in January, Chileans in February.
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Jul 2nd, 2014, 10:17 AM
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If you have extra time I would visit Chiloe, but I didn't love it. Before we went I had read mixed reviews of it, but still thought it sounded interesting so we went. It was ok, but by no means the highlight of our trip. I agree that a day trip is not enough time for Chiloe. Again, a description of our time there is in our TR.
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Jul 2nd, 2014, 11:29 AM
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I certainly wasn't wow'ed by Chiloe. i'd prefer Punta Varas.
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Sep 23rd, 2014, 02:23 PM
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ucon over Villarica..at the base of the volcano. Treat yourselves to a few nights or more at the unique Hotel Antumalal. Rates are within reason and the scenic experience on the shores of Lake Villarica is matchless. We enjoyed it immensin-house in the late '90's when it was owned by the original, a Czech named William...we had come across it in a Conde' Nast Travelarticle on the lake crossing.. Fine restaurant and a quick ride into downtown Pucon and the Black sand beach of Pucon.

From Pucon there are unpaved roads leading to other lake district locales like Pangiapuli and Frutillar...may be paved by now...You can always backtrack to the Pan Am if the gravel roads are bothersome to you. We kinda loved the rural feel and sparse traffic aspect. I'll search for and post my pics showing many of the places mentioned, including the two day lake crossing. It was April and their autumn had set in with a bite!(se
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Sep 23rd, 2014, 02:48 PM
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Above should read, "I'd take Pucon over Villarica"...and the correct spelling is Panguipuli. Puerto Octay has a strong German heritage, larger Temuco is home to many native Mapuche Indians.

https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...ocheArgentina#
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Sep 23rd, 2014, 03:15 PM
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If Antumalal is out of your price range, seems like there are now many more options especially in Pucon. Looks like Antumalal is running a late summer special(March) at $138 per person for a two day stay. Look it up.
Enjoy your travels.
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Sep 23rd, 2014, 11:26 PM
  #19
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Thank you , Tower. Loved the photos of Iguazu.

Our flights are made for Iguauzu 2-5 November, hopefully the weather won't be unbearable at that time.
I have read that you may need to pay for a visa to enter the Brazilian side and we did not feel the expense was justified. Is this not true?

Well, we did pick Pucon. We did look at the Antumalal but we are in Pucon for New Years week and the prices were just too high. It looks like a lovely property. We will have a rental car so,plan on day trips so appreciate your suggestions. We will be in San Martin for Christmas week. What's not to like???
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Sep 24th, 2014, 12:14 AM
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If you are a US citizen, officially you need a visa for Brazil. However, the bus I took from Argentina direct to Iguazu did not require passengers to get off and get a visa (click on my name for my TR), so you might try winging it. The views are very good on the Brazilian side, and you get close to the bottom of Devil's Throat, but I think they are better on the Argentinian side.
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