Alpine architecture, trekking, micro-breweries, and Saint Bernard dogs chasing tourists. These are things you would associate with a European ski town. This is Bariloche, a town in the Northern Patagonian region of Argentina that is visited all year round for both the winter and summer activities
I was passing through Bariloche to break up the trip to Mendoza from Puerto Montt after getting off the Navimag ferry. The ride from Puerto Montt was about 6 hours and as usual, I was constantly amazed at the endless beauty of this area. We were now in the what they called the lake district of Northern Patagonia which covers both the Chile and Argentina. Each year, thousands of tourists flock here to trek, fish, ski and frolic around in the cool waters of the many lakes that are fed by the surrounding glaciers.
As I mentioned earlier, you wouldn’t be blamed if you mistook the place for being European. It’s a popular destination for Europeans who enjoy the fresh air and the scent of pine needles. It became a popular for Germans who fled after the war. For the conspiracy theorists, it’s said to the place where Adolf Hitler fled to after WWII.
I only had a couple of days to burn so decided to take on the advice of the hostel staff and do a 25km cycle along a couple of the lakes about 17km from town. It’s not the easiest ride with many hills but overall, it was worth it for the views especially at one of the restaurants on the hill just half way through the circuit. There were also many hidden bays where you could setup picnic and have a section of the lake all to yourself for pretty much the entire day. After the bike ride, I went up a chairlift to Cerro Campanario where you could get close to a 360 degree view of the surrounding areas. A perfect ending to a couple of days in a beautiful and peaceful town.
Other important information
Stayed: 1004 Penthouse Hostel. Don’t let the strange title fool you. This place is located on the top floor of an apartment block and has the most stunning views of the sunset over Rio Negro. They bake their own bread and the kitchen is huge with two stove tops and ovens. I couldn’t recommend this place highly enough.
Getting there: Frequent busses depart and arrive in Bariloche. The station is a few kilometres from the town which costs about $5 in a taxi to get to. There’s also an airport with frequent flights.
Cycling: Cordillera Bike Rental & Tours is located 18km from town. It’s only a 20 minute ride on the bus from town to the shop. Make sure you get a pre-paid bus card as the buses don’t accept cash. If you organise the bike from 1004 Penthouse Hostel, they will give you a discount on the bike rental as well as a bus card you can borrow and return without having to purchase a new card from a corner store.
Cerro Campanario: Just a 10 minute walk from Cordillera Bike Rental. You can walk up the hill which will take an hour or pay $7 for a lift up on the chair lift.