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Villa La Angostura, Alpine views in wooden Garden of Patagonia

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Marla Martin |
Villa La Angostura
South America   A nice and colorful city in Argentina very near to paradise

Villa La Angostura, a town in the Argentine province of Neuquén, is one of the most beautiful locations in the mountainous parts of Patagonia. It is where the wealthy of Argentina tend to summer or ski. It is where it pays to be and be seen.

La AngosturaVilla La Angostura is called Jardín de la Patagonia (Garden of Patagonia) and that name describes it so well. It's just a few kilometers away from Chile, you just have to go through the Cardenal Antonio Samoré Pass, and is a very populat tourist destination through the year. The city has two attractions that are well-appreciated among visitors: it's Alpine-like wooden architecture, and the beauty of its surroundings. And it's hard to say what is more beautiful of those two.

La Angostura shoppingIts architecture is unique: a stylized Alpine wooden style. Certainly, not something you'd expect in Patagonia, or this part of the world for that matter. This small town of some 12,000 inhabitants, not counting tourists, looks like someone took a village from Switzerland and moved it to South America. Its shops and restaurant and houses are something so close to a Disney movie with a lot to rest your eyes on although it's not a big metropolis.

La Angostura pierThe center of the town is set by the lake, something different from "usual" towns where the main street lined with shops and buildings and restaurant is the considered the center. Instead, a wooden pier running out into the crystal waters greets you along with the small fishing boats and private homes. But there are nice upscale spa hotels here too, Las Balsas comes to mind, and that is the perfect starting point for your exploration of Villa La Angostura or surrounding nature.

La Angostura city centerAnd unlike other towns, citizens of Villa La Angostura know exactly when it is their town's birthday: May 15, 1932. On that day the Correntoso radiotelegraphic station was inaugurated and following the narrowness (Angostura) the town got its name. Building that cozy mountain village, its builders used stone, wood and other material they were able to find in the area, today we would call it eco-building, and the town blends perfectly with nature around it.

La Angostura cafeThe first thing you will notice here is excellent food. Local Patagonian lamb, delicious trout, mushrooms from the forest, are simply gorgeous. And international cuisine... You don't know how good may a hamburger or pizza taste if you didn't taste it here! And pasta, thanks to its Italian roots, may stand shoulder to shoulder to best pasta recipes you may find in Italy. Ask any tourist and they tell you that's not exaggeration. So, we simply must mention a few places.

La Angostura diningFonda Almafuerte is a simple place where there's no rush and slow food movement, although they don't call it that way here, is on its best. The tortilla española and trout are a piece of heaven. Excellent pasta you may find in La Tasca Nice, and a takeout restaurant La Crepe makes crepes that heal. With salmon or pancetta or even Nutella, order whatever you want, you can miss. It also has outdoor seating so you can eat heavenly food and enjoy the city center.

Nahuel Huapi LakeOn Villa La Angostura's west side there is Nahuel Huapi Lake with all kinds of trout you may catch, on the east there is Correntoso Lake. You may go from one to another via Correntoso River, a great fishing river. Or, you may enjoy windsurfing or kayaking. Or, beaches! Yes, beaches in Patagonia! Your destinations are Brava, Mansa and Bahía Manzano beaches. Do not miss them. After that, it's time go out of town and see what South American nature can offer. And it can offer a lot.

Cerro BayoFrom June to September Cerro Bayo is the center of the skiing world, as well as Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes. And you won't take just any road, you will use the Seven Lakes road, one the of the most scenic driving roads that connects lakes and mountains on its way. And of course, you will take Cardenal Samoré Pass that make it possible to cross the Andes in just a few hours and you will end up in Chile. But that's for another South American story.

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