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LATIN AMERICA PATAGONIA DESTINATIONS


LEFT: Bariloche


RIGHT: Victoria Island


BELOW: Llao Llao Hotel


ASK THE EXPERT


Jessica Bain, director, Latin Routes “Patagonia is becoming increasingly popular and we anticipate the destination will grow even more in 2018 with the increased exposure the region is getting. The direct British Airways flight launched from Heathrow to Santiago last year is also having an impact, connecting the UK to Chilean Patagonia more easily. For clients looking to get a taste, recommend at least a week, and if it’s their main reason for going to Argentina or Chile, we suggest two. The region is especially well- suited to clients with an interest in adventure, photography and wildlife, alongside serious trekkers. It’s an adventurer’s paradise and has some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery on the whole continent.”


There’s a plethora of tours available


from the centre; we headed out on a day-long trip with local guides (bookable through Latin Routes), who took us wandering through dense forests surrounded by huge, towering trees in twisted, monster-like shapes with various surprises along the way. Think mate tea tasting beneath the shaded pines; a surprise picnic laid out in front of a mirror-flat lake; and a bagpipe-wielding Argentine suddenly appearing from the depths of the forest with whiskies for us to sample. Just as memorable was an excursion


to Isla Victoria, a 12-mile-long island reached via boat from a lake harbour just outside the town. This lush green, forested patch of land is a magnet for walkers, with sequoia, myrtle and cypress trees shooting up from a ground coloured orange by autumn’s leaves. Getting there was just as spectacular as the island itself, with


Surprises on our forest tour included mate tea tasting and a bagpipe- wielding Argentine offering us whiskies


pointed peaks draped in puffs of mist surrounding us like the mystical forms of Machu Picchu. Beyond the forests there’s plenty


more to see in this region too, including a handful of gaucho-style ranches serving up smoky lamb asados and trout straight from the lake. We visited Estancia Peuma Hue, a cosy, family-run eco-lodge set amid the emerald-green, grassy pastures of Nahuel Huapi National Park, where


horse riding for all levels is offered alongside trekking, kayaking, wine tasting, rafting and more – worth recommending to those wanting to get back to nature in tranquil surroundings. For clients looking to splash out on


a larger, luxury resort in the region, recommend Llao Llao Hotel. Home to a spa and golf course and located half an hour’s drive from Bariloche, it’s the area’s most-celebrated hotel and for good reason, with a remote, serene setting and rustic, traditional feel – all quaint wooden decor, antler-formed light fixtures and a cosy cocktail bar complete with a fireplace backing on to the sprawling lake and mountains.


w EL CALAFATE If northern Patagonia is the Switzerland of South America, then the south is its answer to Iceland. Here the scenery is more dramatic, with the Unesco-listed Los Glaciares


8 February 2018 travelweekly.co.uk 67


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