Esquel to Bariloche

Posted: April 7, 2013 in Argentina, South America

After drying out from a huge soaking in Los Alerces NP, we left Esquel and headed north to a small town called El Bolson.  We went primarily to see the market that is held three times a week, and to take in the scenery of the surrounding area.

El Bolson

El Bolson

The market was similar to many hippy markets around the world, for those that have seen Nimbin in Oz, it was a carbon copy halfway around the world!  Replete with many dreadlocks and food stalls selling the cheapest food in the country, and the smell of a certain herb prevalent, it was a fun way to spend an hour, for the people watching value alone.

We then went for a walk out of town, and the picture above shows the scenery we were immersed in.  A good day in Bolson.

The next day we moved on to Bariloche, a city I had never heard of prior to arriving in Argentina.  A quick cursory read on the Internet quickly brought me up to speed.  A city sandwiched between a beautiful lake and towering mountains, a massive ski field just 20km from town, some of the best hiking in northern Patagonia, and a town famous for its chocolate, ice cream and gnomes.  Sound good?

It was AWESOME!

We spent a week in and around Bariloche.  Unbelievably, we had fluked the timing so that we were there the week before Easter.  What better place to be then the capital of chocolate in Argentina?

Oh, and this is a sample of how the Lake District looks:

Bariloche

Bariloche

The first few days were spent in a gorgeous four star hotel overlooking Lake Nahuel Huapi.  Finally, after the challenges of a very expensive Southern Patagonia, we had the Flashpacking back on track!  For the same price as a hostel in Ushuaia, we had a gigantic room with slate floors, a huge King size bed, a bathroom about the size of the aforementioned double room in Ushuaia, and the hotel had a swimming pool, sauna and gym!

So, a few days of rest and relaxation ensued, and we discovered that Bariloche is indeed very good at making some of the best chocolate in the world, and the ice cream is to die for….

We spent a day on top of Cerro Campanario, renowned by National Geographic as having one of the best ten views in the world.

Cerro Campanario

Cerro Campanario

After a great few days in and around Bariloche, including the best steak we have ever had (sorry Mr Bates!) at Alto el Fuego (twice!), we rented a car and headed north.  We primarily thought of renting the car to do the Seven Lakes route, a famous drive past some incredible scenery north of Bariloche, to a small town called San Martin de los Andes.  A bit of internet research led me to believe that there was something even better just past San Martin, in Lanin NP…

Seven Lakes Route

Seven Lakes Route

The Seven Lakes route lived up to the hype, as around every twist and turn on the road there were stunning vistas.  We did a hike in Los Arrayanes NP along the way, famous for one of the last surviving tracts of the Arrayanes tree, only found here in Argentina and in Japan.

Arrayanes NP

Arrayanes tree

We pushed on from San Martin de los Andes, to a small town called Junin de los Andes, and had a great lunch of fresh river trout.  We then headed along a very long, dusty dirt road to Lanin NP, home of the Volcano Lanin.

Lanin NP

Lanin NP

Absolutely amazing scenery, and at the end of the road a great campsite for the night, with a great view from the tent.

Lanin NP

Lanin NP

After some great hiking and scenery, we drove back to Bariloche, and headed out for a hike to Refugio Frey.  Considered one of the best hiking areas in all of Patagonia, it did not disappoint.

Refugio Frey

Refugio Frey

We took a chairlift/gondola combination from Catedral up to 2000m above seal level, and then hiked for a few hours through some amazing alpine scenery.

Refugio Frey

Refugio Frey

We then made our way to the campsite, for an amazing sunset (and pizza at the Refugio, how good to get a cooked meal in the middle of nowhere!).

Refugio Frey

Refugio Frey

The next day we hiked down to Catedral, and hopped on a quick bus to Bariloche, and ate far too many Easter eggs and ice cream for one last time!

We head to Cordoba next, a short 1500km away on an overnight bus, photos of Bariloche and the Lake district in the post below…

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Comments
  1. Matt Bates says:

    That’s the last bloody 400g dry aged striplion
    I feed you!!!

    • aussiegeek1 says:

      Fair call mate! You have got to make this a holiday spot for you, Rach and Oliver, the quality of the food is amazing! And the ski fields at bariloche looked pretty good too!

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