VILLA LA ANGOSTURA
For all those that have ever enjoyed a magic and pleasant dream, make it come true by visiting Villa La Angostura, located at the south-western tip of the Province of Neuquén
Here in Villa La Angostura you indulge in walking through leafy carpets and fresh snow, among the amancay and the mutisia, under the eternally watchful eye of the coihues and the ñires, to the sweet warble of the diuca-finches and the ibises.
At every corner of Villa La Angostura you will discover the sheer delight of living and sharing your joy with others. The amazing power of this harmonious influence is so strong that it can "wipe away the cares of a lifetime".
Your trip to this fantasy spot starts at Bariloche's Civic Center, heading along Avenida 12 de Octubre, that connects with National Route Nº 237. At kilometer 21 you take the left fork along National Route Nº 231. When you get to kilometer 81 you will be at this major tourism spot.
The "Villa" is at 870 meters above sea level, on the northeast shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi, framed by tall snowcapped peaks and surrounded by thick woodland. It is a heavenly spot in every season of the year.
It got its name from the Isthmus or "Angostura" ("narrowing") of the Quetrihué Peninsula, near the slopes of mounts Bayo (1,782 m), Incayal (1,849 m) and Belvedere (1,992 m).
Founded officially in 1932, in a mountain and lake area, La Angostura incorporated to its gentle urban layout a golf course, a "country" (gated residential compound), a ski center in Mt Bayo and an excellent hotel infrastructure facing lakes Nahuel Huapi and Correntoso.
The latter fact makes it specially suited to the practicing of nautical activities, especially fishing, all kinds of navigation (windsurf, sailboats and cruise ships) and, obviously, trekking, horse riding, mountain biking, hang-gliding and delta wing gliding.
The sport fishing here has achieved great renown due to the size of specimens caught at the mouth of the Correntoso river (this river, which connects lakes Correntoso and Nahuel Huapi, is considered to be the world's shortest river), and in the Ragintuco and La Estacada streams.
The northern sector of Lake Nahuel Huapi is the venue for boat fishing enthusiasts.
One of the first strolls one should take through the city is the sightseeing tour of local architecture, which is well reflected in the Asunción Chapel and the Messidor Castle.
One and a half kilometers from the small town stands the Asunción Chapel, built in the 1940s by Alejandro Bustillo, one of the four religious buildings specially designed for Nahuel Huapi National Park (including Llao Llao, Villa Catedral and San Carlos de Bariloche). It is a stone and log construction with larch wood roof tiles in a natural araucaria forest woodland setting.
Another imposing edifice created by Alejandro Bustillo is the Messidor residence, a replica of a mountain-style French chateau that lies a few meters away from the chapel. In 1964 it was ceded to the Neuquén provincial government to become the official residence of the province's governor and to be sporadically used as a guest house for distinguished visitors.
From Villa La Angostura along pathways of great natural beauty you get to San Martín de los Andes, some 110 kilometers away along the Seven Lakes Route; you also get to the Chilean border, with the Argentine Customs 23 kilometers away at El Rincón and the Chilean one 42 kilometers away at Pajarito.
Its beauty and peacefulness offer you a different kind of winter holiday in the surroundings of two magnificent national parks, Los Arrayanes and Nahuel Huapi.
CERRO BAYO IN WINTER
A SKI RESORT
In recent years one cannot but associate Villa La Angostura with Mt Bayo, an Alpine skiing resort created in the mid-seventies that currently offers year-round attractions: ski runs in winter, and wonderful panoramic views at other times of the year.
It is located only 9 kilometers from the "Villa", surrounded by forests and offering a spectacular view of Lake Nahuel Huapi. This resort offers the ideal facilities for both beginners and advanced skiers.
The skiing season starts halfway June until the end of September and depending on the climate it might last until halfway October. It is a season of heavy rainfall (some 3,000 mm between June and October). When the snow melts, the Cerro suddenly appears thickly blanketed with greenery and flowers.
On Mt Bayo tourists will find 16 well appointed runs for all skill levels and 10 high-quality elevation devices, plus a first rate ski school with highly qualified instructors and a wide range of other services.
The following elevation devices may be used: Two double chairlifts, five teleskis, a T-Bar teleski and two Baby-Lifts, with a total capacity of 4,500 skiers an hour. The 16 runs are a total 20 kilometers long, and you can also ski outside the runs on a 200 hectare surface whose tree-covered slopes offer snowboarders deep-snow "surfing" thrills.
Ten percent of the runs are designed for beginners, 40% for intermediate level learners, 35% for advanced learners and the remaining 15% for experts.
A large number of restaurants strategically placed on the Cerro enable skiers to savor some excellent cooking accompanied by warm wine, while sunning themselves on the open-air terraces.
Events and Services
Not all is skiing and enjoying nature in Villa La Angostura. Another special feature if the local gastronomy offer: wild boar, venison, trout, mushrooms and home-made farm cooking such as jams, jellies and liqueurs are all readily available for the delight of visitors, as also the local craftwork in silver, wood, dried flowers and regional textiles, all in the cordially welcoming atmosphere that the local inhabitants prepare for visitors. During the winter season there are numerous events to attend and participate in, such as the Torchlight descent of the mountain, Argentine Snowboard Circuit competitions, festivals and music concerts.
Excursions and bike tours
Another activity is the lake excursion from Puerto Angostura to the Arrayanes Forest. The latter is a unique curiosity in the world, with its cinnamon-hued trees. You can do cycling excursions on the mountainsides or simply ride around the area, discovering places like Cumelen, Puerto Manzano, Arauco and Inalco.
CERRO BAYO IN SUMMER
HORSE RIDING TREK TO THE LOOKOUT POINTS
A few kilometers away from the center of the "Villa", you have the chance to do an entertaining horse trek through the Mt Bayo Ski Resort. You start the excursion at the foot of the mountain.
Here you will find the guía baqueano (tracker guide), who will accompany you on the excursion. Your horse will be gentle and used to taking tourists on mountain treks to enjoy the majestic local landscapes.
Once all is set and you are on your horse, you leave along a lane heading up to the intermediate slopes of the Cerro. Here, the important thing is to find a pace which will enable the animal to make a steady ascent. A good idea is to let your horse stride along so that it doesn't tire halfway up and come to a stop.
During your ascent, your guide will tell you the story of how the Ski Resort was founded, stressing that this is the country's only privately-owned resort of this kind. Slowly you will find yourselves entering a wooded area, where the vegetation will become leafier and more ancient, because this is a place of lengas and coihues that are hundreds of years old.
The trekker will soon discover that the track he is on is actually used as a ski run for beginners in the winter season. The zigzagging run will take him all around the base of the Cerro, with hairpin bends that must be negotiated on horseback.
Almost without realizing it, the trekker will find himself/herself at the middle of the Bayo mountain slope, where one can view the constant flow of travelers in the chairlifts and the machinery that is used in winter to sweep and compact the snow on the runs.
Ascending a bit further, he/she will be told that the altitude is 1,500 meters above sea level, a height from which an impressive landscape unfolds to view.
After another few minutes, the tourist will be at 2,000 meters, where the horses will be left to graze and have a well-earned rest, and the group will walk to the Mt Bayo Lookout Point. Here the panorama is unique. In an atmosphere of silence and absolute peace, our gaze will stray across an impressive view to be lost on a hazy horizon.
Tourists will be able to admire the crystal-clear waters of Lake Nahuel Huapi, and on the other side make out San Carlos de Bariloche, on its right Victoria Island, and beyond the Quetrihué Peninsula and the different arms of the lake.
Facing them will majestically rise the permanently snowcapped peak of Mt Tronador, with the urban resort spreading below and the Correntoso lake just visible on the right.
After a few minutes spent basking in this view and frantically snapping dreamlike shots with their cameras, the tourists will reluctantly mount to return to the foot of the Cerro.
CERRO BAYO IN SUMMER
BONITO RIVER WATERFALL
You are recommended to take a guide along, whether you do this excursion on foot, by bike or on horseback. Your trek starts toward San Carlos de Bariloche, starting from the offices of the Tourism Board. After three kilometers you turn left along Provincial Route Nº 66 (a gravel track). In a six-kilometer stretch the traveler will be offered splendid and variegated panoramic views of Villa La Angostura: Cumelén and Las Balsas bays, Puerto Manzano, Quetrihué peninsula and others.
Five kilometers from this stretch you will find a sign (on the right) pointing towards the 200 m long trail leading to the Bonito River waterfall: this is a 35 meter-high fall over a fracture in the basaltic ground rock. The water has sculpted an 8-meter diameter basin forming a lovely emerald-green pool. From this point you can also visit Mt Bayo.
FOURTRAX ON THE SLOPES OF CERRO BAYO
In Villa La Angostura you can do a fun tour on fourtrax motor bikes, going through a leafy coihue wood on a specially conditioned trail.
These excursions start from La Piedra Recreational Center, three kilometers from the center of the "Villa" on the road to Mt Bayo. Here tourists will be provided with all they need to thoroughly enjoy this ride.
You don't need any experience to drive a fourtrax. Five minutes will be enough to learn to drive one of these centrifugal 90 CC bikes, enabling you to have an unforgettable ride.
As you plunge into the depths of the dense woodland, your guide will tell you what gear to engage when tackling the different slopes. The circuit presents a gradually increasing difficulty level.
Climbing the small hills to the roar of your engine is a fascinating experience. After 30 minutes of steady driving over the slopes of Mt Bayo you will stop and turn off your engines to enjoy the spectacular panoramic view in silence: the Bonito River valley, lake Nahuel Huapi, Quetrihué peninsula, Victoria Island and even Última Esperanza arm of the lake, as well as the view on the "Villa" itself.
Correntoso River, so named because of the torrential force of the water currents and originating from the difference in level between the Correntoso and Nahuel Huapi lakes, offers tourists abundant salmon and trout fishing, as it forms a "bottleneck" between the two lakes.
To get here, all you have to do is take the trail leading to the Seven Lakes or the Chilean border. After only a few kilometers you will find yourself on the Correntoso River Bridge, which offers an exquisite view of the short river channeling the waters of Lake Correntoso into Lake Nahuel Huapi.
To the south, Lake Nahuel Huapi appears surrounded by hills and dense woodlands. High up, and commanding the area above the mouth of the Correntoso, stands the Hotel El Correntoso, a beautiful old building that used to be the gathering place for tourists in this area early last century. To the north may be seen Lake Correntoso, a narrow lake extending in a north-south direction.
This 20 m long and 35 m high bridge is a landmark, acting as a divider between the two lake areas, namely:
Area A, north of the river mouth where regulations forbid fishing, as the trout in the area spawn here, an activity that can be watched from the old footbridge.
And Area B, at the river mouth, the favorite spot for fly fishing due to the wide range of rainbow, brown and stream trout that congregate here.
It is worth your while to get down and take a walk along the short eastern river bank. The gravel track fork in the road lies some 500 m before you get to the bridge, on the left (at a point where there is a signboard for the campsite).
The river bed (this river is one of the shortest ones in the world: 300 meters long) is spattered with basalt-type rocks. Continuing along the gravel track, you get to the south shore of Lake Correntoso.
LAKE CORRENTOSO BATHING POOL
Some five kilometers from the center of the city you can enjoy a beautiful afternoon by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Correntoso, in the bathing pool by the same name where visitors can comfortably dive because its waters are warmer than those of Lake Nahuel Huapi.
This lake extends in a north-south direction and is surrounded by high mountains. Its waters are green and transparent and its shores are profusely indented. It has a large fish population, including excellent specimens of rainbow and stream trout.
On the south shore, near the campsite, a warm-watered sandy beach is the starting point for activities such as swimming, kayaking and windsurfing. Together with sport fishing, these are the main attractions this lake offers and the reason why so many hotels and tourist cabins have been set up on its shores.
The volcanic sand beach is used for beach activities such as volleyball, quoits and mini-soccer. Besides, horse trekking excursions along the shore are popular.
The beachside campsite is fully equipped to receive tourists, with plenty of space in the shade for tents, drinking water, restrooms and stores that are open all day long, some of which sell fast food.
If you go along the gravel track that follows the southern shore of the lake, you can return along the Los Arrayanes Avenue to the "Villa". Otherwise, you can return along Route Nº 231 you took to get here.