We’ve learned over the last ten months that it’s always more fun when you see, smell, feel, and experience a place for the first time with your very own senses. As a result, we often try to avoid looking at pictures of our next destination prior to our arrival or listen to lengthy descriptions about a place from fellow travelers. It’s obviously sometimes easier said than done but we did our best not to take too many sneak peaks when it came to Bariloche, a city in northern Patagonia.
After a twelve hour night bus ride from Trelew, we were groggy eyed and half asleep when we arrived in Bariloche. The weather matched our physical state as we were welcomed with grey skies, gusty winds, bone chilling temperatures and a wintery mix of both rain and snow. I started having flashbacks to dreary winters in Cincinnati and I panicked thinking, “Where are we and what are we doing here?” This wasn’t what I had envisioned when it came to Bariloche…
Thankfully, the dismal weather wasn’t looking to stay for long and once those initial grey clouds parted, the most breathtaking and picturesque scenery that I’ve been lucky enough to lay my eyes on was revealed. The city itself sits along a vibrant blue lake and is surrounded by towering mountains with glistening snowy peaks in almost every direction! Within seconds of taking in the amazing view from our hostel, Penthouse 1004, I was already enamored with the city!
We had originally planned to do some longer day hikes and potentially a multi-day trek as we had heard it’s a great spot to get your heart rate up with views along the way that don’t disappoint. However, we found that a lot of the trails were closed due to not yet ideal trekking conditions as it wasn’t quite summer. We then moved to plan B which ended up being so much fun that it could have easily have made for an excellent plan A.
Here is what our “plan B” in Bariloche looked like…
A 30-45 minute hike up to Cerro Campanero
We were told by someone at our hostel that at the top we’ll enjoy “one of the best panoramic views in the world.” It’s an awfully bold statement if you ask me but she couldn’t have been more right! Cerro Campanero is a short bus ride from the center of town making it very accessible. Once we arrived up top, we warmed up and reward ourselves with hot chocolate at the small restaurant.
A walk (or bike ride) around the Chico Circuit
We were told that there is a bike rental shop to the right of the entrance to Cerro Campanero so if you start your day early enough you can enjoy a bike ride in the afternoon after your hike. We decided against the bikes and opted to go for a stroll by foot!
If you’re in the area, stop and check out Llao Llao Hotel & Resort which boasts a whopping five stars.
A hike up to the top of Cerro Llao Llao
Here we found more breathtaking views of the many lakes and mountains in a slightly more natural environment. Sorry, no cafés selling hot beverages up here!
A climb up to Cerro Otto for more breathtaking views but from a different perspective
We strapped our hiking boots on and made the rather steep climb up to the top of Cerro Otto. If you’re feeling less ambitious or just short on time, take the gondola up to the top. Be sure to check out the revolving restaurant for constant 360 degree views and of course, some hot chocolate!
There are also a few different hikes that you can do once you arrive at the top of Cerro Otto. We struck out with these hikes though because the area was closed the day we went due to the condition of the trails. It’s probably for the best though. It was rather windy and our calves were still feeling the burn from our hike up!
Last but certainly not least, channel the professional taste tester in you and try an assortment of chocolates!
It’s no secret that Bariloche is the chocolate capital of Argentina! There are chocolate shops lining the main streets in town and you could honestly spend the better part of a day sampling various forms of chocolate at each place – candies, ice creams, cakes as well as hot chocolate. Rapa Nui came recommended to us by our Argentinean friends so that’s where we put our taste testing skills to work!
Whether it be your plan A or your plan B, you are bound to enjoy every second of your time in Bariloche! The fun starts but certainly doesn’t end with hiking, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, boating… and the list goes on and on!