Established in 1937, the huge PARQUE NACIONAL LOS ALERCES in Chubut Province protects some of the most biologically important habitats and scenic landscapes in the region. Its superb lakes are famous for both their rich colours and their fishing, while most have a backdrop of sumptuous forests that quilt the surrounding mountain slopes. In the northeast of the park these lakes form a network centred on lagos Rivadavia, Menéndez and Futalaufquen, whose waters drain south to the dammed reservoir of Embalse Amutui Quimei, and from here into the Río Futaleufú (also called Río Grande). The western two-thirds of the park up against the Andes are off-limits, being designated a “strict scientific reserve”.

The vegetation changes considerably as you move east from the Chilean frontier into the area affected by the rain shadow cast by the cordillera. Near the border, rainfall exceeds 3000mm a year, enough to support the growth of dense Valdivian temperate rainforest (selva valdiviana) and, most interestingly, the species for which the park is named: the alerce. The ground is dominated by bamboo-like caña colihue, while two species of flower are everywhere: the orange or white-and-violet mutisias, with delicate spatula-like petals, and the amancay, a golden-yellow lily growing on stems 50cm to 1m high. In contrast, the eastern margin of the park is much drier. Cypress woodland and ñire scrub mark the transitional zone here between the wet forests and the arid steppe near Esquel.

The northeastern section of the park is the most interesting for the visitor, especially around the area of the beautiful but small Lago Verde. The transcendental Río Arrayanes drains Lago Verde and a suspension bridge gives access to a delightful hour-long loop walk that takes you along the riverbank to Puerto Chucao. For most visitors the highlight is the trip from Puerto Chucao across Menéndez to see El Abuelo, the ancient alerce.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Argentina features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Reaching new heights: what does it take to be a mountain guide?

Reaching new heights: what does it take to be a mountain guide?

For anyone who loves the outdoors, being a mountain guide might seem like the world’s coolest job – in both senses of the word. To find out what it’s rea…

08 Aug 2017 • Ros Walford local_activity Special feature
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
Beyond steak: how to order like a local in Buenos Aires

Beyond steak: how to order like a local in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is often associated with steaks, but they are far from the most common cut served up in the parrillas (meat restaurants) of Argentina's capital. …

20 Apr 2016 • Daniel Neilson insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook