Parque Nacional Lanín

Top choice national park in Parque Nacional Lanín

Image by fputruele Getty Images

Dominating the view in all directions along the Chilean border, the snowcapped cone of 3776m Volcán Lanín is the centerpiece of this national park, which extends 150km from Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi in the south to Lago Ñorquinco in the north. Come here for some of the region's best hiking, including the ascent of the star of the Lake District – the picture-perfect cone of Volcán Lanín.

Protecting 3790 sq km of native Patagonian forest, Parque Nacional Lanín is home to many of the same species that characterize more southerly Patagonian forests, such as the southern beeches – lenga, ñire and coihue. The area does host some unique specimens, though, such as the extensive stands of the broadleaf, deciduous southern beech, raulí, and the curious pehuén (monkey puzzle tree; Araucaria araucana), a pinelike conifer whose nuts have long been a dietary staple for the Pehuenches and Mapuches. Note, though, that only indigenous people may gather piñones (pine nuts) from the pehuénes.

The towns of San Martín de los Andes, Junín de los Andes and Aluminé are the best bases for exploring Lanín, its glacial lakes and the backcountry.

At the time of writing admission was charged to enter the park only if you were heading toward Puerta Canoa.