I wonder if anyone could give me some advice on a possible itinerary in Patagonia and the Lake District.
At this stage we plan to arrive in BA, late on the 16th Dec and leave again on the 6th January. During this time we would like to see Barioloche and the lakes district, spend time in the central patagonia, take the boat from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia and spend a couple of nights in BA before going home.
We hate to have to be committed to flight time and so were thinking of the following itinerary:
17th-19th Barioloche (by air from BA)
20th-27th Barioloche to Punta Arenas via various sights (by bus)
28th-31st Punta Arenas to Ushuaia by boat
1st-3rd Ushuaia and surrounds
4th-6th Jan BA (by air from Ushuaia)
6th Jan Leave BA
Please feel free to tell me to rearrange or drop something. Your advice and suggestions would be appreciated.
I'd say you plan to do too much in only 2,5 weeks. In any case, you can safely skip Bariloche itself; it's a dull ski resort, where not much is going on during summer. Be sure to take a bit more time for hiking in the area, though; there's a load of wonderful 3-5 day trails that you might be interested in.
If you want go by bus through central patagonia, take the scenic route on road 40; it's more expensive than via Esquel, but definitely worth your while. But if I were you I'd rethink this altogether. Two weeks is basically too little to go to Tierra del Fuego, where connections are not so terrific, and where there's so much to see. Also, I've heard different stories about the boat trip, but most people seem to think it a waste of money. In any case, the boats' schedule is not very reliable; be sure to book well in advance.
A nice alternative, depending on how much you like hiking, would be to go to El Calafate (perito moreno glacier; I could have done without, but many people are crazy about it) and El Chaltén; esp. hiking in the el chaltén area was a wonderful experience. On your way back, you might even be able to catch some whales on the peninsula valdés.
good luck planning,
(I just re-read what I wrote and a lot of it sounds negative. I want to be clear about my intentions, I want you to be aware of a few things but am not in any way trying to discourage you. I figure with good info from someone who has JUST DONE THE SAME THING, you can plan your vacation and have a great time!)
To save you some pain when you get here, I'd have to agree with Niels, your itinerary has too much in two weeks. I just did the BA - Ushuaia - Southern Patagonia circuit, and while I had a lot of time and took it slowly, it took much longer than I thought.
In particular, transportation when you arrive will be booked well in advance. Due to the weak Argentine economy, the locals have rediscovered travel in their own country and are flocking south during the summer. (I got stuck in Peninsula Valdez for a week in January because there were not hostels, buses or flights available in Ushuaia. It was my fault for not booking ahead, but it gives an idea of the demand we're talking about).
Bariloche to Punta Arenas is 1930 KM over some of the worst roads in Argentina. Ruta 40 is bumpy and slow, and the Punta Arenas to Ushuaia boat does not run daily. May I suggest flights into and out of Ushuaia if you plan to go? But to be honest, I'd skip Ushuaia unless you need to tell your friends you were at the end of the world.
The national parks Niels mentioned, Fitz Roy and Torres del Paine are much more beautiful (if you like mountains and hiking.) Fitz Roy is particularly suited for great day hikes (you don't have to camp to see the best parts of the park).
Hope this helps, and let me know if you want any more info. I'm here right now, be glad to add what I can.