Los Alerces National Park, a first approach to Patagonia

nicolas grafia | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Patagonia​ ​is a synonym of ​nature​, fresh air, pure water, ​wildlife​, and natural resources. In ​Los Alerces National Park,​ you will find all that and more in one place. From ancient ​Alerces​ trees to massive ​glaciers​, you will discover an endless repository of magnificent landscapes​ while having access to fantastic ​trekking​ paths and gorgeous and colorful lakes. This marvelous park is an excellent destination for both groups and solo travelers, who are looking for a first approach to ​Patagonia. ​ Due to its location (less than an hour from the city of Esquel) and the vast range of possible activities that can be carried out there, the park is typically frequented.  

Los Alerces National Park was established in 1902, while the natural reserve was created in 1937. The protected area covers a zone of 2,596 km². Its name was inspired by one of the most popular and appreciated trees in the region: the "alerce," an ancient tree species typically found in the cold forests of southern Argentina and Chile. Actually, in the old days, the Alerce was called Lehuan by Mapuches, the ancient tribe that used to live in the region. Many people still call it that way. This species is one of the biggest and most long-lived on the earth. They can live up to 4,000 years and easily reach more than 50 meters in height. Within the park, there are five lakes - the Futalaufquen, Verde, Krüger, Rivadavia, Menéndez and the Arrayanes river.

© istock/David González Rebollo

Many different species of animals and birds live and roam the park. The Huemul, a deer-like mammal, is the most emblematic animal of the park, however, if you are lucky enough, you will also meet here Patagonian woodpeckers, condors, eagles, marsupials, pumas (wild feline native to Argentina), "Huillín" (otters-like mammals), deer, otters, and wild boars among many others. Apart from Alerces, the park also hosts a wide variety of plant species that creates incredible landscapes with colors that change in every season. Do not forget to bring your camera fully charged and keep it ready.

This impressive natural reserve offers a broad range of activities, so you can pick those that suit you best. Among the main attractions, visiting Torrecillas glacier and the millenary Alerce are must-do activities. The glacier, formed twenty-four thousand years ago, is located in the westside of the park, near the border with Chile and it is still today, an unveiled treasure. To get there is necessary to walk through some trekking paths and to take a boat ride; it might sound harsh, but it really worths the effort. The millenary Alerce, or "the grandfather," is a 2600+ years old and 50+ meters high Alerce tree, that dazzles even the most indifferent visitor. On your way to the tree, you will pass through incredible forests, rope bridges, and much more.

Regarding accommodation, it is possible to sleep either in Esquel or in Villa Futalaufquen, the only city located inside the park where you will find camping areas, cabins, and some basic supplies- it depends on your budget and whether you have a car. If you choose to stay in Esquel, you can get to the park by car (there are plenty of car rental companies) or, during the weekends, there are low-cost buses that take you there. If you decide to sleep in Esquel, make the most out of it and visit Trevelin to discover the Wales community in Argentina and its customs.

© istock/xeni4ka

Los Alerces is indeed an awesome park that will captivate every single visitor. It is a park that offers so many different activities that can be combined in endless ways, depending on what you like the most. I strongly recommend you to visit this impressive park where you will experience a fantastic connection with both nature and yourself. In short, it is an immense forest-heaven where both professional photographers and Instagram master-users will indeed discover the perfect scenario for the most unforgettable creations.

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