Driving Argentina’s Seven Lakes drive from Villa la Angostura to San Martin de los Andes

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
7
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
1
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
3
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
6
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
4
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
5
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
52 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
South America
country
Argentina
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 40
Time of year visited
January
Primary Tags
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RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
257th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 80% SUMMARY RATING: Worth doing

Summary

The Lake District area of Argentina really is beautiful.  Not quite as dramatic as down in Patagonia or as mind-blowing as that in Peru, but a more picture-perfect countryside that you could imagine a couple of hobbits living out their days in

I found in particular the Chico Circuit by Bariloche a fantastic experience (details – Cycling and drinking craft beers around the Chico Circuit in Bariloche), but for the route from Villa la Angostura to San Martin de los Andes I was unfortunately a bit underwhelmed.  It’s probably because our expectations were so high after seeing the wonders in this part of the world, but either way we found ourselves less having an amazing experience and more just having a pleasant drive

For sure this would be a great place to completely relax for a few days, enjoy the scenery by one of the lakes and go for some easy walks through the forest, and I would stress that Bariolche and its immediate surroundings are a highlight of this part of the world, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to make the drive from Villa la Angostura to San Martin de los Andes

highlights

#1 Driving along the route and stopping for the beautiful vistas with waterfalls cascading into the lakes

#2 Taking a dip in the oh so cold, but oh so refreshing, lakes

#3 Heading off for an early morning walk to catch the sun appearing over Lake Lake Lacar

Rough itinerary

We went south to north, but doesn’t really matter whether you start from San Martin de los Andes or Villa la Angostura

  • Start off with a swim to wake yourself up in one of the bays near Villa la Angostura (Bahia Manzano is nice)
  • Make your way slowly along the Lake route through Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi
  • Choose any spot to stop for lunch
  • Finish up in San Martin de los Andes and, if still enough light, make your way up to the viewing point Mirador Bandurrias

Travel Tips

  • A day is easily enough to make the drive, which is around 100kms and takes about 2 hours.  Obviously you will want to stop off for taking photos, possibly swimming and for lunch
  • We spent the night at the end of the route in San Martin de los Andes at Hosteria La Posta del Cazador which was nice and family-run, and ate in the evening at Bamboo Brasas, which was also nice.  As with all things Argentina, you simply must make sure you eat at one of the parrillias (Argentinian grill)
  • From the hotel in San Martin de los Andes, there is a really nice walk up to Mirador Bandurrias which takes around 1.5-2 hours there and back and rewards you of some great views of Lake Lacar, especially in the early morning
  • The water for swimming is cold . . . but must be done!  We took a dip at Bahia Manzano near Puerto Manzano, which was super pretty with the boats nearby and the wooden chalets overlooking from the forest
  • Make sure you fill up on petrol beforehand as there were surprisingly few petrol stations on the way

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone