Bariloche is one of our favorite towns in Argentina, and also of many tourists that visit it every year. The reason is simple: it is a gorgeous place. San Carlos de Bariloche, commonly called just Bariloche is in the province of Río Negro, Argentina. It is one the most popular tourist destinations, no matter the Season. It offers many attractions all year round.
It is located in the Nahuel Huapi National Park, in the Southwest of the province of Río Negro, next to the Andes mountain range, on the southern shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi. Its natural reserves, which include lakes, forests and mountains, and its prominent ski centers are what makes this place a popular destination. In November 2012, Bariloche was named “the national capital of adventure tourism” under Law 26802 sanctioned by the Argentine National Congress. We were fortunate to travel several times to this incredible place.
1) Trekking or Hiking in Bariloche
Bariloche offers a broad band of activities, especially many options for hiking, of different difficulty. Among those that you can climb you have the hill Tronador, Campanario, Otto, López which you can hike for hours or days.
Two of the ones I liked the most were the trekking that goes from Frey, Jakob, Laguna Negra and Cerro López shelters. The duration of this crossing is approximately 5 days enjoying the landscape and is of high difficulty. On the other hand, if what you are looking for is something lighter, you can do it partially and climb only, for example, to Cerro López and hike for a few hours. Trails are well defined and a guide is not required. You can stay overnight in shelters, which can be a lot of fun. Here are some pics from one of my hikes a few years ago.
There is a river during your hike in Cerro López. It is said that if you take three sips from it, you will be back to Bariloche. So, of course, I take the three sips every time I go.
Another incredible option is to go to the Black Ventisquero, it is a few hours hiking. The Black Ventisquero is one of the fourteen glaciers of Cerro Tronador in the Nahuel Huapi National Park. Its name is due to the fact that the glacier, along its route, incorporates sedimentations that give its characteristic dark color, differentiating it from the other glaciers, which are normally white, such as the Perito Moreno glacier (to see more information about the glacier Perito Moreno see Hiking on Glaciers and What to do in El Calafate.
The Tronador hill has a height of 3478 meters above sea level and is named because of the roars that are produced by the detachments of the snow blocks. This retreating glacier is fed by the constant and thunderous avalanches of ice that crumble from the Manso glacier, some 700 m further up the mountain.
Besides hiking, there are several other activities to enjoy during the summer, such as sliding downhill. It is a fun activity for the whole family.
Below are some pics taken during the different hikes I took around Bariloche.
2) Enjoying the lakes of Bariloche
Lakes can be enjoyed in different ways. For the more adventurous, you can dive in different places, for example in the Nahuel Huapi Lake. Once I went for a dive in Nahuel Huapi Lake with my diving instructor, thinking it was just another dive. Once there I found out it was an underwater photography contest: the Underwater Photography Meeting, the annual sub photo competition. Here a few pics of my terrible pictures of that meeting (they have no filter or anything, obviously).
Beyond these activities, you can practice kayaking, kitesurfing (one of the best places to practice it is in the Nahuel Huapi and fishing in the lakes, or tours by boat. Victoria Island and Arrayanes Forest is an excursion that you must do, if you go to Bariloche.
Victoria Island and Arrayanes Forest, part of Puerto Pañuelo (the excursion can be half a day or full day and can be done all year), sailing for an hour, reaching the peninsula of Quetrihue (NOT of the Nahuel Huapi) where the legendary myrtle forest lives. Then sail to Anchorena Port, on Victoria Island. Walking the trails of this beautiful and ancient island, you will get to Playa del Toro, where you can see the cave paintings made by the original people who lived in this area, surrounded by a splendid beach of volcanic sand. It is an unforgettable experience!
Lolo did the trail in Arrayanes NP by bike. A one of a kind experience. See why at Biking in the Arrayanes.
You also have an option that can take one or more days, and you will need your passport. This option, called Cruce Andino, is an excellent way to travel the same route that the natives used more than 400 years ago. Depart from Puerto Pañuelo and sail for about an hour by the Blest arm, passing in front of Centinela Island, and after walking through Blest Bay and the Frías River, you will travel through the forest by bus around 3 km. The Frías River is bordered by a winding road full of landscapes, to Puerto Alegre, on the shores of Frías Lake. You will then embark there to sail this lake for about 25 minutes, until you reach the port Frias. After completing the procedures of migration and customs, a 4×4 especially adapted to travel the mountain range reaching the highest point of the crossing, and cross the international border with Chile, appreciating the dazzling landscapes of the Valdivian jungle, all the way to Peulla.
3) Bariloche´s Rivers and how to enjoy them
For the more adventurous, Bariloche has the option of kayaking and rafting. It is an excellent way to enjoy the rivers in Bariloche. You have different alternatives, such as booking the rafting excursion in Manso Frontera. When I did it, they told me it was a 4+ but now I know it was probably more like a 3+. I must admit that the company I did it with was very serious, we went with back-up kayaks and very well prepared guides.
4) Downtown Bariloche and more…
You must spend some time walking around downtown Bariloche (centro cívico). It has beautiful buildings, a gorgeous view of Nahuel Haupi Lake and a street with many bars, shops and the most tempting chocolate shops to try some of the best chocolate and candies of Argentina.
During a sunny afternoon, it is quite a treat to sit at the plaza, have some hot chocolate or maybe give mate a try. Check out our post about mate, the Argentine drink. The city itself is very colorful and a great place to spend a quiet day.
For more information on activities go to https://www.barilocheturismo.gob.ar/es the official site for Bariloche.
How to get to Bariloche
Bariloche has its own airport, and many airlines will take you there. Argentina is starting to operate more lowcost airlines, so you have many options.
You can also drive there. It is around 20-22 hours from Buenos Aires to Bariloche, so you will need a lot of time availability to do it by car.
Another option us by bus. You can take a bus in Retiro Station in Buenos Aires, as well as from many other Stations around Argentina.
Where to stay in Bariloche
There are a lot of alternatives, from budget hotels like hostels, cabins to the outskirts of the center (the further out the cheaper it gets, and there is a large amount of places on Bustillo avenue just outside the center). The you have luxury hotels such as Llao Llao., where you even have a golf course that is really worthwhile (for more information about the golf course, go to http://www.lmdgolf.com/)
What you should eat in Bariloche
You should try some of the steaming fondues (cheese or chocolate), the famous goulash (Colonia Suiza is ideal to try them) and the traditional trout, wild boar, deer and smoked cheeses (an excellent place to eat them is in the Edelweiss restaurant in the city of Bariloche.
Another good option is red or white meat salted with mushrooms from the area, trout in Papillote, cooked white wine or black butter.nAnd another dish that you can not leave without having tasted is the grilled Patagonian lamb.
For dessert the offers are also varied and exquisite, such as sweet cakes, homemade ice cream, hot cakes and suzette crepes, colored by natural raspberry sauces, boisenberrys, blackberries, elderberry and mosqueta.
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