Easily one of the most beautiful attractions in central Patagonia, the dense forests, lakes, lagoons, hills, and tall glaciers that make up Los Alerces National Park sprawl across an impressive 631,000 acres. Just 45 kilometers from Esquel, The Park was established in 1937 with the main purpose to protect the forests of the "alerce" (larch) tree, an endangered confier from the southern region with the striking ability to survive thousands of years and reach a dynamic 70 meters in height. In addition to these giant wonders, found mainly in the western zone of the park, there are also lenga, coigue, and cypress trees, beautiful flora, an array of native fauna, countless lakes such as the Futalaufguen, Menendez, and Rivadavia, and hilly strips of land such as Las Piramides and Torrecilals Hill.
Trails and Sights
The Park boasts some twenty different excursion trails, fit for vehicular as well as horseback and mountain biking expeditions. Some of the most popular and majestic trails include the following:
Cinco Saltos Trail: An intermediately difficult ascent, this trail takes roughly two and a half hours, with a departure from Puerto Limonao and a destination at Los Pumas stream waterfalls.
Mt. Alto El Dedal Trail: This five to six hour, difficult ascent departs from Puerto Bustillo and arrives at a vantage point located at the top of the hill, from which can be seen Futalaufquen Lake, the Sutiacion Range, and the Desaguadero river valley.
Trail to Kruger Lake: This twelve-hour walk of intermediate-low difficulty begins at Puerto Limonao and ascends to Kruger Lake, where camping is allowed.
Trail to Cascada Stream: Beginning at Villa Futalaufguen, this trail winds along the eastern slopes of the Sitacion range, for a hike of about four to five hours.
Trail to Escondida Lagoon: This intermediate difficulty ascent takes about four hours, leading hikers from the Arrayanes river to the Escondida lagoon.
Trail to Mt. Alto el Pestiso: This difficult ascent takes about six hours, beginning at Puerto Mermoud on the shore of Lake Verde and finishing atop the hill.
Also worth a visit is the fascinating region of prehistoric colonization, composed of the remains from two settlements of hunter-gatherers dating back to 2,200 years ago. The settlements are located at the banks of the Desaguadero river, entitled the "Alero del Shaman" and the "Sendero de Interpretacion," and are characterized by cave paintings with circles, cruciform designs, shapes, and human figures. Visitors can truly appreciate evidence of this cultural activity by means of the "Sendero de Interpretaction," created especially for this purpose.
How to Get There
Los Alerces National Park can be accessed via the route that connects Trevelin to Esquel, Route N 259 and N 71. After about 10 kilometers, turn right onto Route 258, which leads directly to the Park.
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