When most people think of epic golf vacation destinations, the majestic world of Patagonia may not be top of mind, but if you love adventure and an escape from the everyday grind, then add this magical destination to your bucket list.
San Carlos de Bariloche, more commonly known as Bariloche, is a beautiful lake town located about 850 miles southwest of Buenos Aires, nestled within Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina’s oldest national park. The town is a two hour and 20-minute flight from Buenos Aires—a lengthy trip to the depths of South America, yes, but the experience is well worth the trek. With countless outdoor activities, endless panoramic views and delicious food to satiate your appetite, it’s the perfect getaway for a couple, group of friends or the entire family. A half-hour drive from the city center is where you’ll find Llao Llao Resort, Golf and Spa—located atop a hill with 360-degree views of the surrounding lakes, forests, and mountains, making this a perfect retreat for nature lovers.
Llao Llao Resort, Golf & Spa has mastered the perfect blend of relaxation, entertainment and exquisite dining. Whether you’re on a romantic getaway or family vacation, you’ll find everything you need at Llao Llao—kayaking, biking, spa, fitness, golf, and more. The majestic hotel, which dates back to the 1930s, fuses traditional lodge architecture with modern design and elegance. This gem has been considered a tradition by Argentines for decades and many bring their families every year to spend a few weeks together. Rooms start at $215/night.
Forget Mark Twain’s quip, “Golf is a good walk spoiled”—not even a rainy day can spoil a round of golf at Llao Llao Golf Course, which strikes a harmonious balance between tradition, challenge, and pristine beauty. Originally built in 1942, the golf course is one of the few in the world located inside a national park. Every hole on the course offers breath-taking views of Lake Nahuel Huapi, ancient pine tree forests and the surrounding Andes Mountains. Whether you’re a scratch golfer or 25 handicap, there’s plenty to love. From the tips the course plays 6,000 yards, making it an enjoyable track for all. The best part is, you only pay $30 to play 18 holes! Ditch the riding cart and get a pull cart, which gives you more time to enjoy the views while burning off the world-renowned Bariloche chocolate and empanadas you’ll gorge on upon arrival.
Boat Tour to Puerto Blest and Cascada de los Cantaros
Enjoy views of the Andes as you make your way to Blest Bay and the Frías lake, whose rare minty green waters are formed from the glaciers on Mount Tronador—the natural border between Argentina and Chile.
Hike to Cerro Campanario
There are many great trails to choose from of all different skill levels (none which disappoint), but a great starter is to the top of Cerro Campanario located off the main road between Llao Llao and Bariloche. It’s a 30-minute moderate hike up to a lookout tower offering unmatched panoramic views, a vivid botanical garden and a café with delicious cakes at the top (hey you earned it). You can also bypass the hike and pay to take a relaxing ski lift to the top.
Visit the chocolate shops in town
Chocolate lovers rejoice! Spend an afternoon in downtown Bariloche where you’ll find nearly a dozen glorious chocolate stores with every type of delectable treat imaginable.
Whether you’re a craft beer fan or not, there’s much to enjoy at this popular brewery. Take in breath-taking panoramas and cerveza artisanal (craft beer) while sitting on the patio or walking around the grounds.
DINE AT LA SALAMANDRA
A local told us, “if you want a true taste of Argentina, go to La Salamandra.” This place did not disappoint! The well-crafted menu includes steak, salmon, and arguably the best empanadas in Bariloche. A reservation is a must—the restaurant is in a quaint, saloon-style cottage and entirely run by one wonderful couple (a woman from Brazil and man from Argentina who met skiing in West Virginia of all places).
WHEN TO GO
There is beauty to enjoy during all four seasons in Bariloche, but for summer activities, the best time to go is mid-December through mid-March. Seven to 10 days makes perfect trip to Patagonia, giving you time to enjoy all the activities that make Bariloche, Argentina such a special place. You’ll return home daydreaming about your perfect day on the course, epic hike to the top of Cerro Tronador, sunset boat ride on lake Nahuel Huapi and tranquil spa experience at Llao Llao Resort, Golf & Spa. You’ll find it easier than you think to unplug from the everyday grind and simply enjoy the crystal sapphire lakes, smell of pines and surrounding mountains that sculpt the beauty of Bariloche, Argentina.
After working many golf industry jobs, including pro shop assistant, caddie, and associate magazine editor, Christina now works independently as a marketing and writing consultant for small and start-up businesses.