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San Carlos de Bariloche, usually known as Bariloche, is a city in the province of Río Negro, Argentina, situated in the foothills of the Andes on the southern shores of Nahuel Huapi lake and is surrounded by the Nahuel Huapi National Park. After an extensive public works and architectural buildup the city emerged in the 1930s and 1940s as a major tourism centre with ski, trekking and mountaineering facilities apart from numerous restaurants, cafés and chocolate shops. The city has a permanent population of 108,205 according to the 2010 census.
Bariloche has a cool Mediterranean climate with dry, windy summers and rainy winters, which grades to an alpine sub polar oceanic climate at higher altitudes. Generally speaking, the summer season (mid-December to early March) is characterized by long stretches of windy, sunny weather, with pleasant afternoons of 18 to 26 °C (64 to 79 °F) and cold nights of 2 to 9 °C (36 to 48 °F). Autumn brings colder temperatures in March, then stormier weather in April and May. By mid-May the first snows fall, and winter lasts until early September, bringing stormy weather with mixed precipitation (snow, rain, sleet), occasional snowstorms and highs between 0 and 12 °C (32 and 54 °F), lows between −12 and 4 °C (10 and 39 °F). Spring is very windy and variable; temperatures may reach 25 °C (77 °F) in October and then plummet to −6 °C (21 °F) following a late-season snowfall. On average, there are a handful of snowy days between 5 and 15 centimeters (2 and 6 in) every year, and many more days with mixed precipitation.
Bariloche is the starting point for visiting Western Patagonian National Parks. Please, visit the following links to know more about the Argentinean National Parks located in Patagonia.
Nahuel Huapi National Park
Los Glaciares National Park
Los Arrayanes National Park
Los Alerces National Park
Lanin National Park
Lago Puelo National Park
Perito Moreno National Park
Established in 1934, the Nahuel Huapi National Park is the oldest national park in Argentina. It surrounds Nahuel Huapi lake in the foothills of the Patagonian Andes. The largest of the national parks in the region, it has an area of 7,050 km2 (2,720 sq mi), or nearly 2 million acres. Its landscapes represent the north Patagonian Andean Zone consisting of three types, namely, the Altoandino (with perpetual snow above an altitude of 1,600 metres (5,200 ft)), the Andino-Patagónico (in the lower reaches of the hills) and the Patagonian steppe. It also represents small parts of the Valdivian Forest. The national par k is dominated by the high mountain chain of the Andes, many lakes, rapid rivers, waterfalls, snow-clad peaks, glaciers and extensive forests. It is bordered by Chile on its western side.
The park derives its name from the lake which it surrounds, namely the “Nahuel Huapi”. In the Mapuche language, nahuel means “jaguar” and huapi means “island”. The existence in past times of jaguars in this area is controversial.
The largest city and a base for tourism is San Carlos de Bariloche, which is surrounded by the park. San Carlos de Bariloche is the main hub when visiting the lake, and is known as the “Gateway to Patagonia”, the “Chocolate Capital” and the “Honeymoon Capital” of Argentina. However, the city and other settlements are zoned outside the limits of the park. A further subzoning into the north, south and southern zones has been implemented with an exclusive recreational area named the Cerro Cathedral. Villa La Angostura is another lakeside resort also within the boundaries of the park.
The area is known as the Argentine Lake District,as there are many lakes in the park, including Nahuel Huapi, Mascardi, Gutierrez, Traful, Guillelmo, and Perito Moreno Lakes. Cerro Catedral is a 2,388 metres (7,835 ft) high peak within the park and an important ski resort. Cerro Tronador, on the Chilean border, is the highest mountain in the park at 3,491 metres (11,45 3 ft). Bordering the park to the north is the Lanín National Park.
The park’s ecology consists of Patagonian steppe at lower elevations and Valdivian temperate forests at higher elevations. It is notable for its rich wildlife due to its many biotopes, attributed to the varied altitude and precipitation range.
Xerophytic Patagonian flora is dominant in the eastern half of the park while the western half is covered profusely with temperate rain forests. The dominant tree species in the park are the lengas (Notophagus pumilio), coihue (N. dombeyi), and the ñires (N. antarctica). Other varieties of trees seen in the park are the Chilean cedar (Austrocedrus chilensis), Winter’s bark (Drimys winteri), and Patagonian cypress, a slow-growing conifer which is also present. Other flora includes arrayanes, the caña colihue reeds, amancayes and arvejillas. The llao llao fungus has irregular growth patterns on the trees and is a symbol of the area; it is also the name of the Llao Llao Hotel, a famous resort. The Valdivian rain forest is well forested with fine arrayan trees with crumbling bark. Bamboo cane grows in abundance.
Animals include river otters (Lontra longicaudis), southern Andean huemuls (Hippocamelus bisulcus), pudus (Pudu pudu) the smallest cervid of the world and fromerly considered endangered, two species of foxes, cougars, guanacos and maras. Huillin (Lontra provocax), an endangered native otter, can be observed in the park. Avifauna reported include Magellanic Woodpeckers, green Austral Parakeets, Choiques (Pterocnemia pennata), geese, ducks, swans, blue-eyed cormorants, raptors and many species of softbills such as the Austral Robin (Turdus falckandicus).
Photos courtesy of Juan Teloni, Ricardo Moller Jensen, Carlos Cabrera, Ramon Moller Jensen, Fabian Llanos, Facundo Vital, Diana Weyland, Jorge Martin Spinuzza, Heraldo Norambuena Ramirez, Lalo Navarro, Evangelina Indelicato and Miguel D. Saggese