Esquel is a relaxed Patagonian town in Chubut. It’s refreshing change from the sometimes tourist-inundated bustle of Bariloche.
Founded by adventurous Welsh immigrants who arrived in 1865, the little 28,000-person pueblo has a reputation as a sleepy place, but it’s a good place to stay to explore the surrounding area.
Scientists may be familiar with the name Esquel because of the Esquel pallasite meteorite found here in 1951 by a local farmer.
Oddly enough in chilly Patagonia, homeowners in Esquel seems to take huge pride in their front garden, and a stroll through town one will probably encounter several of the green-fingered inhabitants snipping away.
Aside from the rumbling antiquity of La Trochita, the town is a great base from which to enjoy some world-class Patagonia fishing and to explore the fabulous Alerces National Park, 50 km away.
The park is home to tranquil lakes and formidable hiking trails which wind past some of the world’s oldest Alcere (Fitzroy) trees.
The park is named for the lovely species, which can live to be 3,600 years old.
Those curious about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid can also make a pilgrimage to the cabins built by the North American banditos on the outskirts of Cholila, a sleepy village near the park.
Built in the traditional American style by Cassidy himself, they housed the outlaws during their exile from the U.S. authorities from 1901-1906.
During the winter months, Esquel and her surrounding hills offer excellent skiing opportunities, most notably at the small La Hoya ski resort, 13km away.
Esquel Travel Information: Hotels & Hostels
Most hostels and tourist services including the bus terminal, a short walk from the town center, are located on or just off Avenida Alvear, the town’s main drag .
The information center, Native Art Museum and post office can also be found at Avenidas Alvear and Fontana in the town’s center.
Esquel airport, 21km out of town, operates a regular service from Buenos Aires.
Plenty of accommodation options are available in Esquel, ranging from the typical backpackers’ lodgings to decent mid-range hotels — this isn’t exactly a luxury hotel town.
The trendy Planeta Hostel, ten minutes’ walk from the town center, offers clean and comfortable dorms or cozy private bedrooms and a well-equipped kitchen.
Casa del Pueblo is true to its name as a 40-person hostel run by a friendly Argentine-Swiss couple. This is a place to be social as there are only 6-bed and 10-bed dorm rooms available.
Hotel Sol de Sur is a three-star hotel with reasonable prices. It has a good central location and receives favorable reviews.
One of the town’s nicest places is the B&B, Hostería Canela. At 15km from La Hoya, it is a bit out of town but worth the five minute trek to get to know the gracious and eager-to-please hosts, Jorge and Veronica Miglioli — try Veronica’s homemade baked goods.
Esquel Apart, with its apartment-like accommodations, is another popular choice that rests only 12km from La Hoya ski center and 1.5km from town. The rooms are fully-equipped and visitors can select movies from the DVD library to watch in their room after a long day of skiing.
Hotel Tierra Mapuche has excellent mountain views, and is set in a cozy Patagonian-style building complete with a nice fireplace in the lounge area.
Across Patagonia, prices drop significantly outside of the peak summer months of January and February and the peak winter months of June and August.
Of the towns many restaurants, most are no-nonsense grills where Patagonian lamb (around AR$60) jostles alongside beef for pride of place on the chalkboard.
Pizzerias are common too, but with a butcher on every block, it makes more sense for budget travelers to buy their own fresh meat and vegetables and take advantage of the hostel kitchen. — George Warren
Lodging in Esquel
Las Bayas Hotel -$$$$
Avenida Alvear 985
Esquel Apart -$$$$
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Los Notros and Los Radales,
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Sol del Sur -$$$
9 de Julio 1094
Av. Hípolito Yrigoyen 1475
El Caminata Hostel-$
Av. Alvear 1780
Avenida Alvear 2833,
Casa del Pueblo
San Martin 661
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