In the Cordillera region of Chubut province, some 300 kilometers south of Bariloche, and 650 km west of Trelew, lies the city of Esquel. This is an important town that in this region opens the gateway to a landscape of dazzling natural beauty to the traveler.
Its name derives from the Mapuche word Esguel, meaning "prickly seed", and the first mention of it ("Esguel-kaik") is in the memoirs of the English seaman George Chartown Musters ("My Life Among the Patagones") who led an expedition in 1870/71 from Punta Arenas (Chile) to Carmen de Patagones, following the trail used by a tribe of Tehuelches.
It was founded in 1906, when Gerardo Morelli set up the first telegraph office. It currently boasts the main local communications services with the rest of the country and the rest of the world, and has become a well--balanced combination of a tourist spot and vigorous modern city.
The city can be reached along National Route Nº 258 from Bariloche, or along National Route Nº 25 from Trelew , or else from Comodoro Rivadavia, by National Route Nº 40. You can also get there by air with Aerolíneas Argentinas, that has four weekly frequencies.
The city is in a hollow in the hills, 550 m above sea level, and seems to be occupying the stage of an amphitheater. Around it stand Mt Nahuel Pan (2,240 meters above sea level) and the Esquel Range, featuring the hill by the same name (2,145 meters above sea level), and Mt La Hoya (2,100 meters above sea level), hosting the city's skiing complex.
Provided with extremely attractive surroundings, Esquel is today the most important service city close to Los Alerces National Park. With a varied and increasing lodging capacity, gastronomy services and an important tourism infrastructure, the city has changed its profile a great deal over the last few decades.
Although it still provides services to the rural activities - and in fact this daily feature of its activity adds attraction for tourists - it has a high index of public employment because of the numerous provincial organisms that are based in the city.
Esquel is trying to define a tourism profile by integrating with Los Alerces district (with the towns of Trevelin, Tecka, Corcovado and Cholila), forming part as well of the Lake Belt that includes the 42nd parallel Andean districts and Pico al Sur River District, as well as important cities such as San Martín de los Andes (Neuquén) and Bariloche (Río Negro).
Harsh winters and warm summers are the weather extremes of the city. Esquel and its area of influence possess attractions and services that waken the interest of travelers, giving it incalculable national and international tourism possibilities.
Its imposing natural environment includes a number of open air activities for visitors. Tourists can enjoy the quietude of the scenery, the rushing river rapids, horse-trekking with their friends or catching the fish of their dreams.
You will also find every convenience for skiing in the La Hoya winter sports center, that offers a wide skiing area and all services for you to enjoy skiing, sunbathing and looking out at the wonderful landscapes during your winter stay.
Let alone the above, only 45 km from Esquel lies Los Alerces National Park. In this park, lakes, rivers and forests offer a thousand scenic views of Andean Patagonia. If you have a little spare time, a visit to the "Alerzal Milenario" (Thousand-Year-Old Larch Forest) boasting specimens 3,000 years old and making them some of the oldest living things on the planet is well worthwhile.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Esquel with its over 28,000 inhabitants, important hotel service structure, restaurants, entertainments and transport services provides visitors with all the splendor of the so-called "Comarca de los Alerces" (Larch District).
A wide and permanently growing service structure offers tourists the best options for adventure, excursions and treks that you can enjoy on your own, or with any of the local tourist agencies.
Trekking, horse riding, fishing, hunting on skis, mountaineering, mountain bike, 4 x 4 touring, and any other activity you can imagine, always surrounded by exceptionally beautiful landscapes: ancient trees, roaring rivers, hundreds of expanses of water sheltered by mysterious woods form a region that features surprise, delight, adrenalin and vertigo at every step.
The store network selling the clothes, gear and other items necessary for different activities (fishing, skiing, mountaineering, etc.) guarantees a quality supply. Regional craft items are always a temptation, whether they be craft textiles made by the descendants of the native inhabitants or the edible delicacies made from local flora and fauna food items, which as well as being on sale can be sampled at any of the different restaurants in Esquel.
In this prime fishing area hunting is also a favorite pastime, with many game species, among them bustards.
Many lake excursions are possible over lakes Futalaufquen, Menéndez, Cisne, Verde, Rosario and Rivadavia. There are several specialized agencies that can take you on thrilling tours or on sporting outings.
The Esquel ski complex has just inaugurated a new beginners' run as well as more snow cannon.
Finally, a historic "Express" train daily plying a dream landscape fascinates railway enthusiasts because it functions with its original locomotives and wagons.
LOS ALERCES AND TREVELÍN NATIONAL PARKS
Among waterfalls, streams and beautiful landscapes, this is a first approach to the edges of the beautiful Valdivian forest (cold wet forest). Trekking or lake excursions and the ability to organize one's base of operations in one of the Park campsites makes this an interesting option. One can also visit Trevelín, the first community in this area, founded by Welsh pioneers from Puerto Madryn, who decided to sample living in a new territory.
FUTALEUFU HYDROELECTRIC DAM
A very special spot in the middle of the Patagonian steppe. It offers the history and legends of a sparsely inhabited land. It is a major development of the seventies, whose function was to generate energy to satisfy the demands of Aluar aluminum factory on the Chubut coast.
A CHILEAN ESCAPADE, LAGO PUELO AND BOLSÓN
The San Rafael glacier, located on the lake by the same name in Chile, offers one the ideal excuse to do a very special excursion across the Cordillera forests near Esquel, the beautiful Valdivian forest in Chile and return to the north part of Santa Cruz. At least 200 kilometers along a pleasant road winding among the Pre-Cordillera hills, to get to Lago Puelo National Park that offers beautiful scenery and countless activities.
A winter sports center for the whole family. With sun-protected snow, it allows skiing up to mid-October at very competitive rates. Most rivers in the area empty into the Pacific Ocean, allowing fishing of species that would normally be only found in Chilean rivers. You can try your hand in the Futalaufquen or in other nearby fishing streams.
ESQUEL SURROUNDING AREA
The departure point for green and very Welsh Trevelin and Los Alerces National Park, with its beautiful scenic routes and its spring through fall fishing activity and winter skiing. Patagonia's most famous train leaves this spot also: La Trochita.