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Isla Victoria (Victoria Island), Bariloche

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Argentina Travel > Argentina Tours > Isla Victoria: Bariloche, one island and a lot of history

The forest was dark and mysterious in the middle of the night. Only the thunder and the horses' casks were heard. The rain could barely filter through the trees and a group of riders in their gray coats were seen in the lighting. Though one might imagine stories of all kinds, they were simply guests at the Hosteria Nacional Isla Victoria (Victoria Island National Inn) enjoying a ride before entering the warm shelter of the five-star resort. The steps to follow once there were: get rid of their outfits, put on a swimsuit and a white robe, surrender to the water massage of the yacuzzi, wait for dinner in front of a fire -a daiquiri in one hand- and enjoy dinner cooked by Iñaqui (the chef)... Just the perfect cocktail to unwind and relax. An exact combination of wild nature and the latest technology.

A trip to Isla Victoria while in Bariloche Hotel Llao Llao Crusing through patagonian lakes
Isla Victoria - Bariloche

Cannoeing in Nahuel Huapi
Parapente in Bariloche


WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

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1. Isla Victoria

(Victoria Island) is the best synthesis of all the beauties in the southern lakes area. A few know, however, that this paradise has recently resurrected from its ashes. First, it was the loss of 60% of its original forest, which has been mostly recovered. Then, the fire of the first inn. Now, after the inauguration of the inn, the process has been reverted. The island is in order, waiting for visitors to share all its secrets.
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A typical tour when in Bariloche

One island, a lot of history. The island is magically unique. The biggest in Nahuel Huapi lake, its surface is 3,700 hectares, 20 kilometers long and 4 wide, which narrow to 1 kilometer in the central area. Its abundant nature is its main gift.

Its scenery consists of mild elevations with different kinds of forests, and pampas dominated by gramineous plants. The Andes cypress and coehue prevail both in coastal and inner terrains. There is also mayten, whitewood, holy wood and "radal". These are native forests where small communities of "nire" and arrayan can be found.

Man comes.

Archeological studies reveal that man was here at the beginning of the Christian era, though it is also possible that he came earlier.


The thick forest hides rock protections and caves used by old inhabitants where rupestrian paintings can be seen. "Araucanos", "tehuelches", and even "canoeros of Tierra del Fuego> " got to the island centuries before the Jesuits and conquerors did. The first historic reference of the place was written by the Spanish captain Juan Fernandez, who came to get Indian slaves and to look for an illusionary treasure: the fabulous riches of the Caesars' City.

In 1884, the island appeared in Rio Negro maps with three names: Larga (Long), Melendez and Victorica. Soon, Victorica changed to Victoria , a fashionable name in times when Buenos Aires society looked up to Paris and London.

Anchorena came to the island in the summer of 1902. He stayed for two weeks. Back in Buenos Aires , he tried to buy the island but couldn't. At the end, he managed to get a life concession for 200.000.- pesos. Planning to build a model Patagonia ranch, he raised houses for himself, the administration and the staff.
He also built a sawmill, a shipyard and a dock. He brought horses, cows, deer, wild boars and even some bears, which didn't survive.

In 1914, Paul Groussac wrote a satirical article in La Nacion newspaper about what he had seen in the area. Without mentioning him once, he talked of the mistaken work of an arrogant land owner. Offended, Anchorena left the island. Later, he gave it back to the government

Up to the mid 20's, the island was abandoned. 60 % of its forest was destroyed by felling. In 1924, the Agriculture minister, Tomas Le Breton, created a tree greenhouse for the reproduction of exotic species.

From the 30's up to the 50's, the forest activity was intense, developed by a group of engineers of Ukrainian origin. They took care of the trees, drew a complete map of the island and even distilled vodka.

In 1947, trying to preserve autochthonous animal species, a zoological station was founded in Puerto Radal, where species like the "pudu" were raised. The station stopped working in 1980. All the animals survive at present in the island, though pudues are difficult to see.


An Inn. The first "Victoria Island National Inn" was inaugurated in 1946. It was the place for romantic trips, specially for high-class honeymooners. But in 1982 it burned down, and only its rock and concrete basement remained.
Today, that unique place has come to life from its ashes. The new Inn , which opened in 2002, is in the same place and keeps its classical Andean style but with more space and comfort. "Here you can literally forget about the rest of the world, the noise, stress, pollution... You can simply relax and admire nature or adventure into the island", explains Daniela Donadio, Public Relations Manager of Mares del Sur, the firm that owns the inn.

In the rock basement of almost one meter high, there is a tasting room. "Our wines -exclusively national wines- are kept at room temperature. We're more open in the selection of other drinks", says Ignacio "Iñaqui" Goldin, the chef.

The reception, big rooms with fireplaces, the restaurant, the bar and a terrace are all on the main floor. There is also a spa-solarium, with a room for massages, sauna, yacuzzi and swimming-pool.

The first floor has 20 rooms and 2 suites. Twelve have afternoon sunlight and a magnificent view of Bahia Anchorena ( Anchorena Bay ). The other ten have morning sunlight and a view of Bosque de Grimm ( Grimm Forest ), the park that surrounds the hotel drawing a transition between architecture and nature.

From contemplation to action. If you want to go from quiet and meditation to adrenaline, the inn suggests several activities: trekking, riding and mountain biking. Other options are: kayaking, snorkeling (in Nahuel Huapi), and rappel.

The central area, around Puerto Anchorena and the National Inn, is intensely active, with high concentration of tourists. The south and north of the island are Wild Natural Reserves. Small groups with a guide can visit.

The inn has a group of skilled guides to take you to the best areas in the island. "We don't have a fixed schedule, and we don't want to say much, either. We like to surprise visitors. There are different programs: one, for example, is to "Piedras Blancas" (White Stones), you can go through Picada del Medio and return through "Camino de la Costa" (Coastal Way). It's about a 3-hour trekking, you can also horse ride or go by bike.
Further north is "Laguna del Pescado" (Fish Lake) where you can find tehuelche rupestrian paintings." Sure enough, nature and relax are perfectly balanced in Victoria, an island with a great secret: there is always another marvel to be discovered...

Images credit to:
http://www.barilochepatagonia.info

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