Bariloche (1-5 May)
As we now move on from Bariloche, on our way to Mendoza, and as we settle into another 20 hour bus trip - it is now time to reflect on the last 5 days.
Bariloche was everything and more than I had expected. We luckily arrived in the quiet period a couple of months before it starts to snow and the town is flooded with skiiers. We arrived in Bariloche in autumn so the landscape is coloured with the falling golden leaves of the passing season and the backdrop to this picturesque scenery are the snowcapped mountains which enclose the 7 lakes surrounding Bariloche.
After almost 4 weeks in and out of hostels we decided to give hostels a break. We checked into the Grand Bariloche Hotel where we had planned to stay for the next 4 nights. Looking forward to clean sheets, hot water and some personal space we quickly checked into our rooms and spread ourselves across the beds to soak up some of our almost forgotten home comforts. After a little R&R we strapped on some warm jackets and hit the town to orientate ourselves with our new home for the next few days. We arrived on a Friday night – none of us keen to get smashed on our first day in town we settled for the second best thing… a big steak dinner served with some local red wine and beer.
Not all the weather experienced in Bariloche was dry and warm as we had wished, however, we did manage to get a fair amount done. On our first day we headed off to Camp Anario (as per Jen this is meant to be one of the best view points in the world), well we certainly were not disappointed when we finally reached the top. Camp Anario is about 17km out of town, which is easily accessible on the local busses and then a short hike up to the view point. The short walk (as explained to us by the locals) was actually about 40 minutes straight up a mountain…this little walk was not taken to kindly by Bron and she produced many surprising words that cannot be found easily in the English oxford dictionary.(From Bron…. I might just add here chaps, that little legs and hills don’t go well together and my colourful vocab was justifie) Well, finally at the top, the views were breathtaking and had been worth the legwork. I wish cameras could capture the beauty of the 7 lakes as seen from the top. No matter how many pictures we took none of them get even close to showing you the natural beauty as seen by the human eye. From the top of the viewpoint we got a different perspective of Bariloche, the colours are more vivid than witnessed from ground level - all the yellows, oranges and greens all run into one another as the seven lakes spider web through Bariloche slicing the countryside into smaller more manageable pieces for us focus on.
Once we had gotten more settled in our local surroundings we managed to set ourselves up in an apartment, through one of the hostel owners, so we traded in our last 2 nights in the hotel for 3 nights in a cool little apartment. Keen for more exploring we pressed on, maybe a bit optimistically, to do a 30km cycle around the lakes. We weren’t gone long before we were sent back home by icy cold winds and rain. Not easily discouraged we returned the following day in better conditions to take on the ‘easy’ 30km route. Another awesome day…check out the pics of us donning the cycle wear. One common factor that revealed itself during the last few days is that Bron seems to have some form of turrets that is trigged during physical activity (Bron….On a personal note again, little legs and 30km bike rides also don’t go well together and the turrets was again justified as the boys power up the hills with no problem, leaving Jen and I behind to push our bikes up the hills and have locals laugh at us).
On our last full day, not to be put off by the freezing conditions and the ominous clouds we rented a car and headed off to see the Black Glacier. This was by far the coldest day we experienced in Bariloche but protected from the cold by our rented Renault Kangoo (only 5 seater car they had available… I promise) we set our sights on the Nahuel Huapi National Park. The glacier was less than 100kms from our apartment but after getting lost and taking millions of pictures we managed to find our way to the glacier 4 hours later. The drive on the way to the glacier was actually more exciting than that glacier itself as you drive right next to lakes and streams on a dirt road crossing over small bridges and weaving through the forest. On one of these bridges we managed to spot our 1st trout swimming below, which the Patagonian area is so famous for. I couldn’t believe my poor luck to find out that the fishing season ended on 30 April and we arrived on 1 May. Oh well, it just means I will have to come back again to fish these waters (Bron…. I’ll come back and tackle the 30km bike ride and mountain climb again)
After a long stint in the car we got to the glacier. The glacier is black because of the volcanic ash that fell in front on the mountain that thunders (named from all the avalanches and falling ice that is common on the mountain). The Black Glacier itself doesn’t really compare to the glacier we had seen in El Calafate, but well worth the trip and we all enjoyed our day with pilot Wilson in the driver’s seat. To be honest if it wasn’t signed posted it would have just looked like a big piece of rock. It did, however, give us a destination for our road trip and the day will go down as another successful day of sightseeing.
We are now off to Mendoza next to hopefully indulge in big red meat and big glasses of red wine that the area is known for.
Dean and Bron