Our Patagonia lowlight: Bariloche
This post is only written thanks to a friend (thx Andi 😉 ), who convinced and inspired me to also share the bad experiences of our trip. After all she reminded me that my blog is about emotions too, meaning the good and the bad as well as the happy and the sad ones. And well, as you might guess due to the post’s headline, Bariloche was one of these bad experiences. So far probably even the worst or least enjoyable parts of our journey – for numerous reasons.
First of all and to be fair: Bariloche has a beautiful location as it is surrounded by lots of lakes on the one and mountains on the other side. Hence making Bariloche a popular travel destination, also for Argentinian’s, for summer as well as winter holidays.
There are also many options for activities, which we actually enjoyed as well:
Visit Llao Llao national park: The park is a little more than 20 km outside of the centre of Bariloche, but can easily be reached by bus. There are a several different treks (all marked on the map) to choos from. We can recommend a round-trip by doing all of them, which should take around 5 hours if you take it easy with many photo stops. The treks are mostly flat with some short uphill parts, which will be awarded with very beautiful views.
Visit Cerro Campanario: This is a nice look-out over the beautiful and mystic landscape 360° around Bariloche. There is also an option to take a seat lift up there, but the rather steep uphill walk only takes 30-45 minutes.
Hike to and sleep at Refugio Italia at Laguna Negra: The hike is very beautiful with the starting point next to the brewery “Berlina”, which cannot be missed in the Llao Llao national park. The majority of the trek leads right next to a river within a beautiful forest. The last hour gets a little challenging all the way up, across small snow fields, but next to a huge, wonderful waterfall. The Refugio itself is also very nice, but the prices are rather high with 15 EUR per person (excluding an extra fee for using the kitchen – best to bring cold food to snack if you are only staying for one night). Therefore the location is very pretty, right next to a huge Lagoon, with the possibility to camp (which would have been a pain that night due to very strong winds).
Enjoy an (or more) ice-cold beer at one of the breweries: The breweries “Berlina” and “Patagonia” are both located in the Llao Llao national park and serve (guess what) delicious and vast amounts of beer. If you have to choose, go to the Patagonia brewery, as it has better (to my taste) beer and (more important to me) a nicer location with a terrace and garden, overlooking once again the beautiful lakes around Bariloche.
Go to the cinema: One advantage of big cities is that they have cinemas *yeay* (luckely just in time for Georg, shortly after the launch of the latest Star Wars movie). Ticket prices at the cinema in Bariloche are afforadable, popcorn prices not so much^^. A rule that seems to apply all over the world.
Other possible activities in Bariloche, that we left out, include:
- Renting a bike and explore the city and surrounding areas (eg. the 120km Seven Lakes tour)
- Checking out the look-out points Cerro Otto (with a rotating / circulating bar on top) or Cerro Cathedral
- Making a multi-day hike from Refugio to Refugio (eg. Refugio Frey)
Still, we never felt 100% comfortable in Bariloche and here is why.
Firstly, it was Christmas, our first one not spent with our families back home in Austria. I have never been that much into Christmas or at least that was what I thought. But, well there seems to be something true about the saying that you only realise how much you miss something, once you don’t have it any more. Consequently, the 24th of December of 2017 goes officially in the books as my first day ever feeling truly homesick. Same is true for Georg, who also heartbreakingly missed his family and beloved grandmother.
Secondly, we just arrived from El Bolson, which was a small very comfortable, non touristy town with an eco-friendly vibe and nice outdoor markets. Bariloche (or at least the city centre) in contrast is very busy, filled with souvenir shops and even has a McDonald’s. All the calmness and relaxation was gone in an instant. At this point we were already used to the extensive garden of our prior hostel and of course the lovely company and friends, that we also just had to say good bye to.
Looking back we made the best of our stay. We switched to another hostel, 15 km outside of town, but therefore much closer to the national park. The Fortaleza Hostel felt like a large treehouse, yet not being on a tree though, and the staff was very friendly and helpful. Additionally we were able to meet up with friends (made in El Bolson), as they were also celebrating Christmas in Bariloche. So here’s to Nick and Lu (and her family), who saved our Christmas. Never forget our Christmas day at the Patagonian brewery and the spoiled dinner and happy hour beers in the Manush Pub.
In a nutshell if you are chasing after the perfect picture of Patagonia’s beautiful landscape you should not miss Bariloche. Apart from that we cannot really recommend Bariloche to anyone. But after all, not all places can be that overwhelming, otherwise we could not appreciate the really special places anymore.
PS there is also a serious lack of pictures of Bariloche as on one hand we did not take that much and second of all we lost our memory card with the pics couple of weeks later in the salt flat of Uyuni. More on this story to come soon …