For the Easter week-end, I decided to cross the country with a short 13hrs bus drive and head to Bariloche for 4 days. It was short and sweet, but oh how beautiful. I wish we had longer, and will definitely go back in that area before the end of my trip in Argentina. Bariloche reminded me a lot of Whistler, BC and the Sea-to-Sky area. I found it to be vibrant, young and with endless activities to do for outdoorsy souls. Also, if you like chocolate, you will find there some of the best chocolate (if not the best) in Argentina. Make sure to visit Rapanui and Mamushka!
We stayed at the Achalay’s hostel near the Centro Civico of the city. It was a small and homie hostel with shared bathrooms, full-day breakfast and tons of information about the activities and the town. It was really clean and the bed are also very comfortable, which is great for a hostel! I would definitely recommend staying there. It’s just about a 5 to 10 minutes walk to the main areas of the town for the restaurants and close by to some of the best pubs and bars (not that I had any energy left after my days in Bariloche to go out at night!).
So we arrived early on the first day and went for a little walk around town, to grab a good lunch and buy some chocolate (of course). Just to give you an idea of how yummy it all looked and smelled, my vegan friend chose to not be vegan that week-end so that she could eat chocolate. We both declared it would have been a sacrilege to do otherwise! At 2PM we were picked up at our hostel by Pura Vida Patagonia, a company that organizes kayaking tours. I had booked for a half-day kayak adventure and a bunch of other girls from CII Teach Argentina decided to join us. So here we went, in our double kayaks, for a few hours of kayaking and drinking mate on the beach. The activity went very smoothly and it was very well organized. I would definitely recommend booking with them. The guides were all bilingual and I had a very good chat with them about activities to do in the area at different times of the year. We paid about 500 pesos per person and that included a snack and transfer from the hostels!
The food in Bariloche was also amazing. Actually the food in general in this country is amazing. There was a lot of European restaurants and we spoiled ourselves with a Fondue dinner and an Italian dinner during the week-end. I had probably the best cheese fondue I ever had in my life at a nice placed on the main street called La Marmite. When I travel I usually eat breakfast at the hostel, cook my own lunch and dinners to save money. But when I go out for food, I go full out. Add some nice Argentine red wine to it all!
The second day, we went for a trek to Refugio Frey that I will cover in a separate post, because there are a few technical details I would like to cover. On our 3rd day, I booked for a full-day horseback riding tour with arianepatagonia. Ariane is from France and I found her information in the Petit Routard travel book. She has lived in Bariloche for many years now and organises half-days, full-days or multi-days horseback riding tours in the Pampas around Bariloche. For those who love horseback riding, just do it. You will have a real gaucho experience, riding with one hand, followed by the 8 dogs who run around all day trying to hunt hares, have a pic-nic under the trees and drink wine (of course!). Ariane is very welcoming and it is also possible to book a room in her beautiful home if you would like to stay outside of the center of the town. We rode from 10:30AM to about 5:30PM with a 2hrs break for lunch. The area is really dry and dusty, so we embraced our inner gauchos with bandanas to protect ourselves from the sand.
On our last day we decided to relax our legs and went to enjoy the view at the Cerro Campanario (up the chairlift). It was 150 pesos to go up and down and there is a lovely small bakery-restaurant at the top with a 360 degrees view of the lakes and the Andes. You have to take the bus 20 from downtown and head to kilometer 18. Make sure to charge your bus SUBE card ahead of time, otherwise you can’t pay cash and they won’t let you in. We had to ask a lady in the bus to use her card for some of my friends and give her the cash to be able to come back – there is nowhere to charge your card near the Km 18! Just to keep in mind.
Overall I really loved Bariloche. I feel like it’s a place where I could see myself living, especially because it reminds me so much of home in Vancouver and BC. There is a lot I didn’t have time to do and I am planning on going back later to visit other smaller towns around such as El Bolson, San Martin de los Andes and Villa Agostura. If you have any suggestions, send them my way!