Nestled in the foothills of the Andes and alongside Lago Nahuel Huapi is San Carlos de Bariloche. While there were no direct buses from Pucón in Chile, I took a bus for 4 hours across the Andes and south to the city of San Martin de los Andes. There I waited for several hours before catching another 4-hour bus south to Bariloche.
Somehow I’d messed up my booking at the hostel and there was no room for me when I arrived. But they were kindly able to arrange a room in an empty hostel nearby for the night. I returned the following night when my booking was actually due to start.
While Bariloche is set up for hiking, mountaineering and skiing, there’s more to the city than just the standard Patagonian wonders. With a heavy Swiss influence, Bariloche has become famous for its chocolate with more than a dozen boutique chocolate vendors in the city.
The mountains near Bariloche have plentiful hikes, but as it was nearing winter many of the longer trails were closed. I chose a couple of shorter hikes to work in with a two-week spanish course I’d booked, to revise what I’d learned and to help with my confidence.
Booking the course was easy, the hostel manager rang for me and that afternoon I went down to meet to the director of the spanish school, took a placement test and sat in on a spanish cooking lesson. Beyond the lessons there were additional means to practice the language such as the cooking class, a city tour and going out for drinks.
My hostel was 41 Below and was owned by a kiwi guy, although he’d retired from running it. There I met a lively bunch of people and enjoyed several dinners and nights out with them – just not so much on school nights!
Because of the Swiss influence in the area, the city’s architecture has a European feel, especially the cathedral – which was actually built in 1946 to resemble the buildings of Europe a thousand years earlier.
The state buildings around the city centre also have a European feel…
Worked around my spanish course:
- I had great steak and red wine meals at Alto el Fuego restaurant
- I climbed Cerro López to Refugio López on a day walk.
- I hiked up Cerro Catedral for an overnight stay at Refugio Frey
- I tried chocolate from each of the different vendors
- I caught a bus south for 100km to the hippy town of El Bolsón
Other things to do near Bariloche:
- Sail on Lago Gutierrez in summer
- Ski Cerro Catedral in winter
- Hire bikes and ride the 60km Circuito Chico
- Explore Llao Llao peninsula
The Trail Wanderer