This is the route between San martin de Los Andes and San Carlos de Bariloche. A lot of travelers I met did this route only through bus but I found it to be one of the most beautiful places I saw during my entire trip. It was peaceful, the people were supremely helpful, all the places I saw were breathtakingly beautiful. Everything there worked for me. I wouldn’t miss any opportunity to go back there.
Major stops that can be made –
San Martin de Los Andes:
This was my first stop and I spent my maximum time here but that’s also because of my wonderful hosts. I just didn’t feel like leaving them. It’s a good place to relax. The lake (Lago Lacar) is so beautiful, I couldn’t take my eyes off it even though it was absolutely freezing.
The place minus the lake is also very beautiful. It’s a small town with wooden houses and colorful rose plants in the garden. Longer days are a blessing.
This is a little detour from the road of seven lakes but this is my favorite lake of all.
I went hitchhiking to Villa Traful as a one day trip. I barely spoke any Spanish at that time and couldn’t believe how patient people were with me. They would stop and wait for me to use google translator to translate their response.
I eventually found a ride and the people were so amazing they made all the waiting worth it. They were going on a day trip to somewhere before Villa Traful but they changed their plans to accompany me and we ended up spending the entire day together. I got back to San Martin de los Andes with them.
They ensured I’m getting pictures at every picturesque place, try the local food, they shared their homemade sandwiches with me, and the guy lent me his jacket when it was freezing.
This lake is my favorite mostly because it’s least crowded. In fact, it was empty. It’s very green, there’s ample camping area but the strong wind could be a deterrent in camping there.
Villa lo Angostura:
I stopped here only briefly as a break from hitchhiking. If I had more time in the country, I would have stayed here for a day at least. It seemed like a beautiful little town by the lake.
San Carlos de Bariloche:
This is one of the most popular destinations in this area so it’s very touristy. I personally like San Martin de los Andes better solely because it’s less crowded. There’s definitely a lot more to do in Bariloche though.
Other places to visit around this route:
I made a day trip here from San Martin de Los Andes and I thank my stars for making it there. There’s no Bus that goes and I was anyway going to hitchhike. I started pretty late during the day and had no clue what am I getting myself into.
The park is off the main road which makes hitchhiking slightly difficult. I was very lucky to find this amazing family that was returning from a big vacation and decided to go with me to wrap their vacation.
We couldn’t walk around the volcano as it was too cloudy that day. But the national park itself is very beautiful. The park is shared with Chile. So, in case you want to do the entire route, carry your passport.
This is after Bariloche and on the way to El Chaltén (Where most of the travelers head next).
The route to El Bolson is equally beautiful and it has some good trekking locations around it.
This is by far my favorite place but I do not recommend it unless you’re volunteering there because the place is about staying with farmers. Hotel would be an absolutely different experience and I’m not sure if it would be a good one.
Suggestions on doing this route:
Carry a tent and camp at San Martin de los Andes, Villa Traful, Villa lo Angostura, and Bariloche. In that order. The camping site at Villa Traful is right by the lake which I’m sure would be a wonderful experience.
Also, hitchhiking I felt was the best way to travel from point to another. It’s safe, people are used to it, and this way you get to enjoy the route. It is truly mesmerizing with colorful flowers on both sides and view of blue lakes kept me smiling all the while.