Tag Archives: Bariloche

Racing time

After the “Huemul Circuit” we needed one day of recovery, just relaxing at our campground. The weather was also pushing us for a break, as it was really windy and a constant rain started in the afternoon . So instead we wanted to cook a bit more fancy than just pasta and tomato sauce, but even the most simple dish can be quite difficult to make when all the supermarkets are empty. Looking back we were quite happy that we had brought our food for the trail from Chile.

Empty supermarkets were normal in El Chalten

The next day the weather was looking great again and we had all day until 8pm, when our bus was scheduled to leave for Bariloche. By the time we had repacked our backpacks, it was almost noon. However, we still wanted to get a closer look at one of the major attractions of El Chalten – Mount “Fitz Roy”. The hike to the viewpoint at the “Laguna de los Tres” takes usually a full day, but we had only half a day left.

On our last day in the area we decided to take a closer look at Mount “Fitz Roy”

Fortunately most of the trail is relatively flat, so we managed to keep up a fast pace up to the last steep ascend. In contrast to the “Huemul Circuit”, this hike was really crowded, as it is also a very popular hike with all the day-tourists, who come from El Calafate for just one day. Therefore, we didn’t want to stay at the laguna for much longer than a short snack break. The way back was a little faster so that we reached the campground on time to collect our belongings and head to the bus terminal.

It was a bit difficult to get a picture without tourists at the “Laguna de los Tres”
We passed by “Laguna Capri” on the way back down

For the next 24 hours the bus was our home, taking us more than 1300 kilometers north, back to Bariloche. It was a long way, but Benno’s flight was leaving from Santiago – even further north – and he had only about a week left. To reduce a bit of the hustle, we picked two towns, where we would spent most of the time. One of them was Bariloche, where I showed Benno my favorite spot in the area, “Cerro Campanario”, before discovering something new – “Cerro Catedral” and “Rifugio Frey”.

The view at “Cerro Campanario” was even better than last time

The hike around “Cerro Catedral” was another full day trip. Our travel guide had estimated the time for the whole trip to take around ten hours. As we needed to take a bus to the start of the trail, we were dependent on the bus schedule (once per hour), leaving us only about eleven hours in total. We could have taken two lifts up to save some time and most of the ascend, but it was way too expensive and we preferred to invest our money in a nice steak for dinner, which was about the same price.

The ascend from Villa Catedral was steep and mostly on ski slopes

During winter, the slopes of “Cerro Catedral” turn into the most famous ski resort of the area, so the way up was mostly on ski slopes or on gravel roads. However, higher up the trail was closed as they were working on the slopes. This turned out to be even better for us, because we were allowed to use the second lift for free. We also had a clear conscience, as we had intended to walk all the way, but couldn’t due to the trail closure.

We got lucky and had to take the second lift – for free
Beyond the pass lies the Nahuel Huapi National Park

The trail continued from the upper lift station. Shortly after we turned off the main trail, which was full of people who had taken the lift all the way, and like on the first part of the ascend we were the only ones on our trail. This time the landscape was completely different and the whole mountain side was covered in rocks of all sizes, which required a bit of scrambling (easy climbing) as well. It was a lot of fun and we enjoyed it very much, as we felt that we were good on time.

The landscape had changed and required some scrambling
Behind the broad mountain pass…

In the early afternoon we reached a broad mountain pass and started our descend into the neighboring valley, which contains two picturesque lagoons and the “Rifugio Frey”. Here, the number of tourists increased quite a lot, because there is an easier way to get to the hut. We chose to do this for the way back, as it is less steep. The trail was really pretty with all the flowers that were growing on the surrounding forest floor. However, the end turned out to be a bit tiring, because the landscape didn’t change as much anymore.

… lies a nice valley with two lakes
“Refugio Frey” is very popular with day tourists, who come from the other side
Ducks enjoying the solitude at “Laguna Tonchek”

In total it was still a nice hike and we even managed to finish it in only seven hours, including the breaks we took along the way. By the end of the day we got back to Bariloche quite early and still had some time to relax, before heading out for another grand steak at “El Boliche de Alberto”.

The forest floor is covered in flowers on the way back to Villa Catedral
The last part of the trail is along “Lago Gutierrez”

The German and the Jews

In the north of Argentina I had encountered mostly French tourists. Here, in Bariloche, it was different. Most people I met here were Israelis. Remember that not all Israelis are Jewish, but the ones I spent most time with were. The first one was Eduardo. For most of the year he lives in Buenos Aires, but for the summer months he is renting a cabin at the lakeside, where he also takes in couchsurfers. He’s learning Hebrew to rediscover his Jewish roots, so it was perfect that he had enough space for another couchsurfer, Dan.

The bus from Buenos Aires to Bariloche takes long, but is quite scenic

Dan is Jewish and comes from Israel. He is traveling South America now, after finishing his military service back in Israel. We spent the next day on bikes, discovering “Circuito Chico”, a loop road at the end of town. The road is very scenic, going through thick forests, passing by beautiful lakes and some hills with excellent views over the landscape.

Biking the “Circuito Chico” with Dan
View of the luxury hotel “Llao Llao”

Compared to the rest of my trip it was quite cold here, so I was happy for all the warm clothing I got in my Christmas package from home (thanks again!). Luckily the forests protected us from most of the heavy winds, which were blowing that day. Not so protected is the luxury hotel “Llao Llao”, which towers on top of a hill amidst the surrounding lakes like a fortress. Next to it stands a picturesque old wooden church, but unfortunately it was closed when we passed by.

The wooden chapel is coincidentally named “San Eduardo”

In the evening we decided to organize a two day trip to Mt. Tronador for the next day. Dan and his two Jewish Israeli friends, who were staying at a hostel, had planned to do it anyways and I was able to join them. We had a lot of hustle getting a tent and the bus tickets, as well as shopping for food and packing our bags. In the end we managed to get everything, except for enough sleep, and were ready for our next adventure.

Hiking around Mt. Tronador

The over-priced bus took us to “Pampa Linda”, the starting point for various hikes in the valleys around Mt. Tronador. The fact that we arrived here around midday didn’t keep us from adding another short hike (>300 m of altitude and around 2.5 km one way) to a viewpoint over the valley, because we had the rest of the day to reach the “Otto Meilinger Refugio”, where we were allowed to set up our camp.

The viewpoint over “Pampa Linda” – hiking with Nadav, Dor and Dan

I consider myself quite fit and experienced in hiking in the mountains, but Dan, Dor and Nadav showed me a new level. There might be other reasons, but I think it has mostly to do with their age (22) and the fact that they just finished their three years service in the Israelian military. This also had an effect on our diet during those two days, which consisted mostly of canned tuna and lentils as well as cookies. It was not my usual trail food, but it worked quite well and was weight effective.

The impressive glacier of Mt. Tronador

Even if I was slower than the others, we managed to pitch our tent and cook our dinner before the sunset. Afterwards it cooled down pretty quickly, as the hut is located right at the foot of the massive glacier that covers Mt. Tronador. In the end it was crowded, but probably warmer in our 3-person-tent, which had been rented to us as a 4-person-tent.

The proximity to the glacier promises a cold night
The camping at the “Otto Meiling Refugio” is for free
Amazing colors during the sunset over the Andes

The way back down was easier and allowed us for a little detour to the bottom of the waterfalls, which we had seen from the top the day before. In the afternoon the bus picked us up again in “Pampa Linda” and brought us back to Bariloche. And we were back in town just in time to go to Beit Chabat, a place where Jewish people get together for different occasions. Every Friday the Beit Chabats around the world offer the possibility for traveling Jews, or those without a family in the area, to celebrate the beginning of the Sabbath. I was curious how it would be, so I came along. First, the men pray and sing together, then they join the women at the tables for a story of one of the rabbis and in the end everyone shares a big dinner. As everything was in Hebrew, I didn’t understand most of it, but it was still a nice experience! (Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures, because it wasn’t allowed and didn’t feel appropriate.)

The glacial waterfall seen from the bottom

The next day, Dan and I went back to Eduardo’s place to pick up the rest of our luggage, which we had deposited there for our trip (thanks for that again!). As the weather was quite nice, we decided to do the short hike up to “Cerro Campanario”, which offers an even better view over the area than the “Circuito Chico”. And in the evening we met up with Dor and Nadav at “El Boliche del Alberto” to celebrate the end of a great week with one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.

Hiking “Cerro Campanario” with Eduardo and Dan
Picture perfect panorama of the lakes surrounding Bariloche
The grill of “El Boliche de Alberto” is located in the middle of the restaurant