Thursday – 19/03/15
Kayli and I made it on the bus to Bariloche! I don’t think I can describe my excitement about this, as the 2 weeks leading up to this have been a mountain of stress of planning, paying money, figuring out classes at the university, and facing a never-ending stream of problems (every day there was at least one) on details regarding our trip. Even the day we left, we still didn’t have our tickets printed and the university’s travel agent (the notorious Agustin) wasn’t able to give them to me until less than 2 hours before our bus was departing (when I still had to take the colectivo to my house (30 minutes) and then a colectivo to the bus station (30 minutes)). Getting to and thru the bus station was a tad confusing, but nothing felt so good as plopping down on that bus seat and knowing WE MADE IT!
The bus is incredible. If you travel Argentina and have the convince of time, take the migros. They are double decker buses with comfy seats, full meals, and even give you pillows and a blanket. Kayli and I opted for the cama ejectivo, the medium level seat that reclines pretty far and has a good amount of space, over the semi cama (the smaller seats that don’t recline much) considering this is a 22 hour drive. We are in hour 16 of 22, had a delicious Argentine bus dinner of milonesa (a thin, breaded chicken) and of course, an alfajore. Getting excited to get to Bariloche, but have no complaints about sitting on this comfy bus.
Ruben is the hostel owner here. One of a kind haha. We had decided to stay at universal travelers lodge sold by the promise of micro beer on tap and a warm pool. Originally we had planned to spend three nights in Bariloche then head South to El Bolson and camp for two nights. Immediately upon arriving at the hostel we decided there was to much to do just in Bariloche and booked two more nights along with rental bikes for the following day. We ate at Antares microbrewery for dinner (with Ruben) and had incredible food; enormous deer steaks with a tasty mustard sauce and potatoes, not to mention the beer.
Friday – 20/03/15
Favorite day of the trip!
Got out to the bike rental place around 11 to start our trek along the Circuito Chico. It was not only a killer workout, but had absolutely spectacular views. The first point of awe was Punto Panorámico, with incredible views of the massive Lago P. Moreno Oeste.
We illegally biked down a trail to view a small arrayan forest near Bahia Lopez and then continued on the main route until turning onto a dirt road toward Villa Tacul to make it down to a spectacular beach. The perfect spot for lunch. Was wonderful to eat, laying in the sun, and obviously taking loads of pictures.
We headed back onto the dirt road to find the other beach and came across a sign to Cerro Llao Llao. Taking the bait we headed up the trail head with our bikes. An hour later we found ourselves having pretty much carried our bikes up the tight rocky switch backs, sweat running down our back, and completely exhausted. At this point (yes an hour into the hike) we decided to check the map to see how far we had to go and if the hike actually completed a circle making it necessary to bring our bikes. Of course it was one way up, and one way down.
Shaking our heads, we locked our bikes to a tree and continued up the mountain to arrive at the most stunning view of the week. Absolutely amazing.
After soaking in as much of that view as possible we headed back down, dragging the bikes with us. The bike ride ended with a beautiful single track ride through the forest.
On our way back to town we stopped at Cerro Campanario to take in yet another view, this one famous for being a stunning 360. Setting our minds to it we hiked up the dusty and extremely vertical mountain, reaching the top in 25 long minutes. But the view was worth it, along with the carne empanada and licuado (fruit smoothie).
The promise of an amazing sushi spread Ruben was ordering in at the hostel and our absolutely exhausted legs drew us back to the travelers lodge. We feasted on delicious ceviche, hot rolls, and amazing variety of 5 different cold rolls for only $10 a person …. Gotta love it here :) finished our incredible day soaking our sore muscles in the heated pool until we couldn’t fight the overwhelming tiredness.
Saturday – 21/03/15
After a long debate between our minds and muscles, we opted for a short hike to a beach instead of the originally planned full day hike to the top of a Cerro or Refugio. On our way out the door Ruben questioned if we wanted to rent his kayak and get to the beach by water versus land, our legs did not need much convincing.
Ruben loaded up the kayak and the three of us headed to Lago Guitérrez. We were quickly learning that there was no such thing as a boring conversation with Ruben, and this car ride was no exception. Topics ranged from tinder and dating to inappropriate drawn out jokes to debating on weird versus normal people, all future conversations followed this same suit. :)
When Kayli and I pushed the kayak off the shore we were completely amazed by how clear the water was, but our amazement quickly changed to absolute awe as we could see the bottom perfectly at 10 feet, 20 feet, 25 feet, 30 feet … Multiple times we would take our paddles and push them as far down in the water as possible to make sure that our eyes weren’t playing tricks on us. The paddle looked like it wasn’t even halfway to the bottom.
Motivated to find the beach we set off down the lake. What started as a totally still day was slowly starting to get windier, but with the wind at our back we weren’t very aware until we turned and could see white caps on some of the waves. Having already came so far we wanted to see if Playa Muñoz (our beach of destination) was just around the next point. Heading to the middle of the lake we started to notice the rugged, only found in Patagonia mountains hiding behind the hill that came down into the lake. We sat in the middle of that lake, took pictures, and enjoyed observing it all from the water.
We started heading back to eat lunch on a little beach we saw earlier, not wanting to get blown to far down the lake. One solid back and arm workout later we made it to our little beach and got all set up for a wonderful lunch. But it was not meant to be. The second we sat down and opened up our food we were swarmed by bees. Kayli, who is deathly afraid of them, couldn’t sit and had to walk around the beach letting little screams escape every so often as one got to close. Bees have never bothered me much, but once I started eating my boiled egg about 5 of them swarmed the egg, would dodge my waving hands, and came at me. Eventually I threw the egg to get them away. Needless to say the lunch couldn’t be enjoyed, the bees got about half our food, and we spent about 20 minutes using our long paddles to get the trash away from the swarm to not litter on the beach.
Getting back in our kayak, neither of us were to keen to go back to shore. Luckily the wind had died down and the Lago was a perfect mirror. So we stayed close enough to the shore to see bottom and floated slowly back to where we started searching the bottom for fish (there were none) and treasures.
Had the best Mexican food I’ve had in months for dinner at Dia de Los Zapatos following a tasty beer from Manush cerveceria. We finished the evening playing drinking games with other travelers in the hostel and going to bed happy, full, and sunburnt.
Sunday – 22/03/15
My absolute favorite part about the hostel was all the wonderful people we met there. Throughout the weekend we befriended people from a variety of locations in Europe. Two girls and a guy from London, who were traveling for 6 months around all of Latin America; a Dutch couple who had just stayed in Buenos Aires for 2 months and are now traveling Argentina for the next couple months; and two Germans who had just started their Latin American traveling adventure, one traveling for 3 months the other for 1 month.
When the Germans, Malte and Mikele, heard we were renting a car to spend a day in El Bolson and asked if they could tag along, we were more than happy to have the company. After picking up the rental car (which is a whole other complicated story) the 4 of us headed to Colonia Suiza to check out their famous Sunday ferira. It was fun wandering the stands in the cute tiny town, tasting beers and eating Argentine food and fries.
We continued on our way to El Bolson while getting an education on German rap and becoming friends with these awesome guys. Downtown El Bolson was pretty and the main park was a huge ferira with a drum circle and pond with paddle boats in the middle.
My treasure of the day was a maté (the gourd cup you drink Yerba maté out of) with bees and a honeycomb carved into it, perfect and memorable for our constant battles with the bees in this region of Argentina. We also befriended the cutest pup, who was our constant companion for most of the afternoon.
Thanks to a “true” El Bolson local we became aware of a quick hike up Cerro Amigos that has a view point that looks over the town. We trekked up and enjoyed a wonderful sunset at the top.
Monday – 23/03/15
¡Camino de Los Siete Lagos!
Thanks to our party bus sized rental car we were able to do the famous Camino de Los Siete Lagos with 4 other companions, Malte, Mikele, and the Dutch couple, Wilco and Caroline. This driving route is around 400 kilometers, takes about 10 hours and is one of the best ways to see the majority of these beautiful lakes in northern Patagonia.
Our route was leaving from Bariloche and heading North up Ruta 40, staying left to eventually head thru Villa La Angostura. We stayed on the 40 until turning around at Lago Machónico instead of continuing all the way up to San Martin de Los Andes. On the way back we took a right on the 65 in order to have a slightly different route home and see Lago Traful. The trip took a total of 11 hours which included many stops and spending an hour at Lago Falkner. We were able to see views of Lago Nanuel Huapi, Brazo Huemul, Esperanza, Brazo Ultima, Lago Espejo, Lago Correntoso, Lago Espejo Chico, Brazo Norte, Lago Falkner, Lago Machónico, a waterfall lookout, and Lago Traful.
The first 2 hours of the drive had spectacular expansive views of Lago Nanuel Huapi and all of its Brazos. All we wanted was to ditch the car and get a boat! :)
Villa La Angostura definitely was a highlight on the trip, by far the cutest town I have seen in Argentina. Wooden buildings, fun shops, and adorable restaurants. Kayli and got a cafe from an enchanting Irish pub (yes an Irish pub) that had the best outdoor seating and fun eclectic indoor restaurant. I would love to come back and spend a week there at some point.
We also stopped at a beach campsite at the beginning of Lago Espejo and enjoyed another spectacular view. Would be an AWESOME spot for lunch.
We didn’t make it all the way to San Martin de Los Andes, as a group we preferred to be lazy on a beach at Lago Falkner and enjoy the bottle of wine and chocolate we brought.
We took a dirt road (the 65) on the way home in order to see Lago Traful even though it probably tacked on a good hour and a half to our trip. The panoramic mirador at the far side was incredible.
For the last 3 hours back there was a drastic change of scenery from lakes and green, to enormous red rocks and rivers.
We stopped for sunset right outside of Bariloche in Dina Huapi on Lago Nanuel Huapi. A perfect end to a fun 11 hour trip taking a time lapse of the sun going down and watching the fly fisherman in the river!
Feeling as though we couldn’t leave Bariloche without a good parrilla dinner. We walked to parrilla de Alto Fuego, which was AMAZING! Kayli & I split a lomo (filet) of some of the best steak I’ve ever had with chimichurri, fries, and a bottle of wine in this wonderfully decorated restaurant.
Back at the hostel we hung out with our German friends one last time, saying goodbye with promises of visits to Hamberg. Honestly a perfect final evening to a great trip.