San Carlos de Bariloche (days 14-17)
1574 km from Buenos Aires
Travel agency: Bariloche Select
13 km from the airport, Bariloche is just about 70 km from the pacific ocean (vs the 1500 from the Atlantic) with stronger connections to Chile than the distant city of Buenos Aires. It takes its name from the Mapuche language (the indigenous people) meaning “people who live behind the mountain” being situated surrounded by the mountains, with one side overlooking the massive Nahuel Huapí lake. This peculiar position gives to Bariloche unique climatic condition, allowing snow over the mountains during the winter.
That’s why Bariloche is one of the most important ski resorts of the South America and it has also been inhabited by middle europeans such as Austrians, Germans and even the Swiss (there still a Colonia Suiza a few km from the city centre) over the centuries and now the city is well known as the Argentinian Swiss!
Before travelling to Bariloche I had been fascinated by an article about the Huemul project: the secret project of a German/Austrian scientist who in the 50s convinced Peron that he could produce nuclear energy in some strange way, different from the others. The project was very expensive but it has never been finished and now the Huemul island has been abandoned with all its facilities, mysteries and secrets! Unfortunately it’s not possible to reach the island unless you know someone with a boat around there!
Anyway the city is a bit too touristic for my tastes: if in the winter it is a ski destination, during the summer it becomes the destination for the end of school trips. You can find lots of clubs and noisy groups of young people. Despite this if you stay a bit away from the main streets of the city center you’ll find several very nice areas like the Belgrano district or the long promenade over the lake.
This was the worst excursion of the whole trip for many reasons. A half day excursion of about 65 km, mostly skirting lake Nahuel Huapí.
Departing from Bariloche along the Costanera avenue. You will see Huemul island, then Campanario hill, Llao Llao peninsula.
At Campanario hill there is a chair lift. The panoramic view is one of the most impressive of the region which is worth a stop and the chair lift ticket.
You’ll have a stop also in a factory shop of rosa mosqueta products…not really interesting!
After passing by the Llao Llao peninsula, you will cross a bridge that joins the lake Nahuel Huapí and Moreno. Finally, you arrive around the lagoon and start your return to Bariloche.
But you can organize it by yourself. There are regular bus (public transport) to the Llao Llao Peninsula, if you have the patience to wait for it! Also if you’re renting a car for the 7 lakes walk, you can spend a few hours going there before to give the car back.
Go to Puerto Panuelo (25 km from the city centre, in Llao-Llao Peninsual) and buy a ticket for the boat to the Isla Victoria.
You can go down at Quetrihué peninsula in the Los Arrayanes National Park. Walking a decking path you are into a dense forest with unique features: wide stem, with showy cinnamon-coloured bark with white spots and heights exceeding 15 meters, giving this place a magical appearance. It’s nice but can be missed if you don’t have enough time.
If you go, don’t forget to have a break on the beach at the right of the dock.
Then the boat will bring you to Isla Victoria where you can choose between different options: Sendero Ex Vivero Nacional, Sendero de Interpretacion “Antonio Pargade”, Puerto Gross and old town, cave paintings and Playa del Toro, Cerro Bella Vista Balcony , among others. Some of these are not available without a guide, so look for more information in Bariloche before to face the visit on your own.
We’ve choose Cerro Bella Vista for time reasons. But if you go there in the morning (and without the excursion we were linked with!), you’ll have all the time to visit every part of the island you like. There is a restaurant where you can find food.
Are you wandering what happened on day 16? Don’t miss the next post!