Patagonia is heaven for those who love the outdoors. The Nahuel Huapi National Park has a good range of marked treks available ranging from short well-marked trails through to serious multi day mountain excursions for experts only.
After our experience in Villa Traful climbing Cerro Negro, we decided to hunt out a few baby/kid-friendly walks in the Villa la Angostura area. Our little one had been a proper trooper on our big trek putting up with a long day and a lot of brambles and branches, so we wanted to find routes which were a little more baby friendly.
If you’re in the area with a baby or family and want to get out into the outdoors then any of these 3 are good choices though the Belverdere viewpoint does require a decent climb and the waterfalls require careful supervision.
Los Arrayanes National Park (Route 13): This trek is on the Quetrihué Peninsula in the Nahuel Huapi lake and the focus is the Arraynes forest (Chilean myrtle) at the Southern tip. There are multiple options open to you: the full round trip which we did (c. 22km); you can take a boat on the out or return leg reducing the distance to 12km; or finally, take a boat in both directions and simply undertake the 2km loop. Distances are marked every 500m and there is no risk of getting lost. Only the very start as you enter the peninsular is steep, with steps for a short section. It’s a great relaxing woodland walk and worth the small national park entry fee. A rustic café at the end ensures all calories consumed are more than replaced. The route can also be cycled though you would need to carry your bike for the initial short stretch.
Mirador Belvedere and Cascada Inacayal (Route 9): This trek initially takes you to a viewpoint over Lake Correntoso. The climb is fairly steep and takes 30-60 minutes on a wide and clear track, but is fine if you are using a baby carrier or if your kids are a little older. You can also find locals to take you up on horseback for the riders out there. From the viewpoint you can turn back and retrace your steps or you can continue for an additional 30 minutes on a smaller route which weaves through the forest. Signs are broken and missing but the route is clear enough. The route takes you to the top of the waterfall which is a perfect spot for a picnic lunch. The stream tumbles a long way to the valley floor below and there is no railing so be sure to keep any kids close to you. Take care on the descent, the markings are unclear and I suspect with some new building there has been some rerouting, google maps came in handy to get us back to the road. For the more adventurous you can continue after the waterfall on a steep climb and then connect up to another route back to Villa la Angostura.
Senda Camino Viejo (Marked as route 6 on the map, but described in route 7): This is another easy out-and-back woodland walk or bike ride of 7km one-way, though the initial stretch is on dirt-tracks in the small village of Correntoso so can be driven to make this a 7km round trip. Once you hit the end of the driveable road (a nicer place to start in my view) the route is very clear, but finding the start is a little tricky. If you follow the small white (generally blank!) sign posts then you reach some bollards which mark the end of the road. It’s pretty flat apart from the final stretch on the Northern end, staying in the forest throughout. I chose to do this one as a run, continuing from the end on the road to reach the Southern edge of lake Espejo Grande.
Getting some treks done with a 9 month old is great and our son absolutely loved these though the 22km trip was perhaps a bit little too long as we set off fairly late.
Make sure when you are in town to have dinner at Chop Chop Parilla (superb steak and mind-blowing lamb), Pistach (for great food and something a little different from the standard fare), and a few of the local Cervecerias for craft beers.