Stretching north to south over a distance of some 400 miles in northwest Patagonia, along the border with Chile, Argentina’s Lake District is a region of amazing beauty that boasts some of the clearest skies on Earth.
So bright is the light in January ― which is midsummer in southern Argentina, lying as it does deep in the southern hemisphere ― and so vast and deep-blue are the skies above massive Lago Nahuel Huapi (a fiercely protected national park that forms the centerpiece of the Lake District) that one’s eyes are often dazzled.
Lying as far south as it does, Argentina’s Lake District has a huge advantage in summer for the sightseer: In midsummer, the days stay light till midnight. This makes for days of 19 or 20 hours of bright daylight and on days without much cloud cover ― of which there are many in midsummer ― you can plan long days of sightseeing yet still have time for a leisurely breakfast, a relaxed lunch and then dine in the evening as the Argentineans do, leaving it very late to go out to eat.
In the touristy little city of San Carlos de Bariloche, as in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, the residents and tourists don’t go out to eat until 9, 10 or even 11 p.m. Should you want to dine earlier, you can, and you’ll find uncrowded restaurants (an advantage in many people’s eyes); but if you want to leave it late in Bariloche to look for dinner, you certainly can.
Wait until you feel hungry and then when you go out you’ll find it easy to navigate your way around, because it’s still daylight ― or, for the very late diners, twilight ― when you sally forth to do battle with your Argentinean-style steak, grilled chicken or delicious trucho (pronounced “troo-cho”, this is river trout, a mouth-watering specialty of the region).
Argentina’s Lake District effectively extends all the way north from Parque Nacional Los Alerces, about 200 miles south of Bariloche, up through Lago Puelo and El Bolson to Bariloche and on through Lago Nahuel Huapi and up past the iconic Volcan Lanin, which is about 100 miles north of Bariloche. Volcan Lanin is a 3,776-metre (12,388-foot), classically shaped extinct volcano that many say is one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. The Lake District extends about another 100 miles north of the famous volcano.