Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Rainbow Tour of the Seven Lakes Road from Bariloche, Argentina

Leaving San Carlos de Bariloche a Rainbow Greets Us

By Roy Heale

One of the most beautiful journeys by car in Argentina is the Seven Lakes' road. Starting in San Carlos de Bariloche the road connects to Villa La Angostura and San Martin de Los Andes for a full day excursion. Along the route are the seven lakes: Machónico, Falkner---where there is a 20meter waterfall---Villarino, Escondido, Correntoso, Espejo and Nahuel Huapi. Plus at the end of the journey the eighth lake is Lacar where San Martin de los Andes is situated on the shore. The road also traverses three national parks: Lanín, Arrayanes, and Nahuel Huapi. This is truly a scenic journey full of wonderful photo opportunities and memories that make for a perfect journey. It is almost 200kms from Bariloche to San Martin de Los Andes---40 of which are across a gravel road--- and the entire journey is surrounded by spectacular mountain vistas, lakes, unspoiled forests, and parks.

During my visit to Argentina's Lake District my host and tour guide Cristian Signorelli from Bariloche Gay Travel made certain that I experienced this distinctive adventure before I left the region. We met early at my hotel for breakfast and then headed out in our car for a day full of activities. It is possible to enjoy this one day excursion on a tour bus, but I recommend a private guide in order to move at your own pace, stopping to enjoy everything this magnificent day trip has to offer.

It was a slightly cloudy and rainy start to the day but that could not daunt my excitement.

I new this was going to be a mystical gay day when at the start of our journey we were greeted by a dramatic rainbow just as we were leaving San Carlos de Bariloche. A sight that always surpasses the rain or clouds, especially when one can almost here Judy Garland's voice singing those inspiring, familiar words.

The first stop was at the quaint small town of Villa La Angostura situated on the northern shore of Lake Nahuel. This is a year-round destination for fishing, hiking, mountain biking, camping, sailing kayaking, and more including skiing during July, August, and September. The small town site is full of shops, restaurants, and parks with a resident population of about 12,000 people. As we strolled around the village and along the shoreline of the lake we were once again greeted by a rainbow stretching from a mountain peak to the lake. I began to wonder how Cristian organized and planned his gay tours!

After a short refreshing visit around the town and the traditional sharing of mate we were back in the car and on the road to San Martin De Los Andes. On this section of the journey the road winds its way though mountain peaks, alongside the lake shores, though small settlements, forests, and open valleys. Wild flowers and berries adorn the embankments, waterfalls appear by surprise accompanied by small creeks and rivulets. Throughout the journey it is constantly reassuring how this wonderful countryside has been unspoiled by any kind of major commercial development.

We arrived in San Martin de Los Andes just in time for a parilla lunch of beef, salad, and patatas fritas accompanied by a good Malbec. This is another quaint Andean town with year-round tourism and outdoor activities for all to enjoy.

For our return journey we headed back via the highway through the more desert-like region of the Andes Mountains where lakes are not commonplace and the vegetation is more arid. However, Cristian told me if we were lucky there might be a sighting of the region's indigenous bird of prey---the Condor with its three meter wingspan---cruising the wind currents high above.

Sure enough, after about one hour of driving in the afternoon sunshine, Cristian spotted a Condor in the sky and stopped the car for me to take a picture. By the time we were both out of the car, and to our amazement, we were surrounded by what seemed like at least one hundred Condors hovering above. Both of us were completely mesmerized by the sight and they seemed curious about us for several minutes. Then as quickly as they appeared they vanished again. As a local resident Cristian was astounded and impressed upon me that most people were lucky to see just one Condor. He had never before seen or even heard of an entire flock of them traveling together. In fact many people search the skies and never even see one lone Condor. It is important to note that Condors usually travel alone or in pairs making this a very rare sight to behold.

Cristian Spots The First Condor

Suddenly The Flock Arrives!

By the time we arrived back in Bariloche I had spent yet another unforgettable and very gay day in the spectacular Argentina Lake District which was full of memories to last a lifetime.

Two rainbows in one day and The Flight Of The Condors...amazing!

After an incredible week in the Lake District my observations rate this as a wonderful gay-friendly playground and the perfect place for that long-awaited gay honeymoon! Cristian Signorelli of Bariloche Gay Travel will plan your visit so that your memories will be deserving of how long you may have waited for your wedding.

Whether you want to go skiing in the winter, sit on the beach during the summer, or climb a mountain peak, this region has everything for the perfect gay getaway.

For More Information Visit:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Argentina Gives Go-Ahead for Same-Sex Marriages

By Roy Heale
Buenos Aires, Argentina

It's a case of deja vu for me personally! As a young gay teenager growing up in London, England I never thought I would live long enough to see the legalization of same-sex marriages. Now I have been fortunate enough to live in two countries and be a witness as this important “equality” legislation is passed---Canada and now Argentina.

After a fourteen hour marathon session of debates and speeches on July 15th., 2010 Argentina has become the first country in Latin America to legalize gay marriage after the Government Upper House, the Senate, voted in favor of same-sex marriage legislation. Coincidentally, 2010 is Argentina's Bicentennial Year and this is an amazing way to celebrate this country's history as a tolerant society.

The country's Lower House, the Chamber of Deputies, had already approved the legislation a few weeks earlier.

The vote in the Senate, which endorsed the bill by just six votes, approved the legislation---backed by President Cristina Fernandez's centre-left government---passed by 33 votes to 27 with three abstentions.

The law, which also allows same-sex couples to adopt, had met with strong vocal opposition from the Catholic Church and other religious groups. Outside Congress, as the debate continued into the early hours of the morning, supporters and opponents of the bill held rival but mostly peaceful demonstrations. Local television stations covered the entire debate with a live broadcast and follow-up interviews and comments after the vote was completed.

A few gay marriages have occurred recently in Argentina, some of which were annulled by the Supreme Court, creating a legal controversy.

In Buenos Aires and some provinces same-sex Civil Unions have been legal for some time but there was no law to regulate it on a national level.

Argentina's capital is widely considered to be among the most gay-friendly cities in Latin America. It was the first Latin American city to legalise same-sex unions.

Same-sex civil unions are also legal in Mexico, some states in Brazil, and Uruguay, while gay marriage is legal in Mexico City. But Argentina will go down in history as the first South American country to legalize same-sex marriages and adoptions nationally.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

LGBT Travel Industry Gathers in Buenos Aires For Third Annual GNETWORK360 Conference

By Roy Heale
In South America July usually signifies the cold of winter, but in Buenos Aires from July 21st to 23rd the temperature will heat up when hundreds of LGBT tourism industry professionals gather together for the third annual GNETWORK 360 conference. This important award-winning FREE event is the major global gathering each year for LGBT travel and tourism networking, educational forums, panel discussions, exchange of ideas, and renewing old acquaintances or making new ones.

Recently the IGLTA (International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association) recognized the GNETWORK360 conference as “The Best LGBT Networking Event” and presented the convention producers, Pablo De Luca and Gustavo Noguera, with an award. The presentation ceremony took place at the IGLTA Annual Convention in Antwerp, Belgium in June 2010. However, this recognition is something which delegates to the two prior conferences are already cognizant. Previous experience may also be the reason why over 300 travel industry delegates have already registered for this year's assemblage in Buenos Aires.

The conference welcome and keynote address will be given by the new Argentina Minister of Tourism, Carlos Enrique Meyer. In June of this year Argentinean President, H.E. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, announced the action to separate the Ministry of Tourism from the existing Ministry of Industry and Tourism and named Meyer, previously Secretary of State for Tourism, as Minister of this new government department. This recognition of the importance of the multi-billion dollar tourism industry to the Argentine economy may perhaps also lead to a new emphasis on the growing sector of LGBT tourism in this country.

During the course of these three days there will be approximately twenty-four distinguished guest speakers, presenters, and members of discussion panels from eight different countries. Delegates can attend a total of sixteen official sessions and receptions. These global LGBT travel industry leaders will share their knowledge and experiences with delegates. Topics will range from Social Network Marketing Tools, to LGBT Diversity, Distinguishing the Lesbian Tourist, The Economic Impact of Gay Tourism, Equality at IBM, and specific Destination Success stories. The expert presenters will travel from Europe, South and North America to share their stories and discuss issues of importance to anyone connected to the travel industry, whether large or small businesses, or individual entrepreneurs.

In the evening of July 23rd starting at 7PM there will also be a Marketplace and Cocktail Reception followed by the closing festivities.

Throughout the three days coffee and lunch breaks will provide numerous networking moments for delegates to spend time getting to know each other and learn about business or networking opportunities. These individual encounters and sharing of knowledge or experiences has been the main benefit of GNETWORK360 in the past and this year is sure to prove no exception.

Perhaps the most unique highlight of this conference is that it is absolutely FREE for all travel and tourism delegates. Truly a unique opportunity to benefit from this experience without having to pay a high price tag for the privilege of attending. Online registration and detailed schedule information is now available at or questions can be directed to: for answers.

Also, at this year's conference the GNETWORK360 organizers will present, for the FIRST time, two new awards to an individual and a company who in the past year have made major contributions to the LGBT community in Argentina.

If your daily life involves the tourism industry, whether you are a hotel employee, a tour guide, a travel consultant, or other member of the industry, then this conference has been designed just for you. So be sure to mark your calendar with the dates July 21 to 23 and head to the Axel Hotel, Buenos Aires Auditorium, and Palacio Alsina to share the experience.

Visit for Complete Conference Details and Online Registration