Very few of my fellow travellers spoke fondly of Bariloche – too touristy was the general comment. Some of my Argentinian hosts even echoed the sentiment. After 2 days there I have to agree. If you have a car I think the situation would be quite different – as there is indeed a lot to see.
The Argentine Lake District’s largest city, San Carlos de Bariloche attracts scores of travelers in both summer and winter. It’s finely located on the shores of beautiful Lago Nahuel Huapi, and lofty mountain peaks are visible from all around. While Bariloche’s center bustles with tourists shopping at myriad chocolate shops, souvenir stores and trendy boutiques, the real attractions lie outside the city: Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi offers spectacular hiking, and there’s also great camping, trekking, rafting, fishing and skiing in the area. Despite the heavy touristy feel, Bariloche is a good place to stop, hang out, get errands done and enjoy some good food.
It says a lot about a restaurant when there is a queue of some 20 people half an hour before it even opens. The steak was cooked to perfection and the mixta ensalada and glass of Malbec were welcome accompaniments.
For me, Bariloche was merely a stop over and an exit point from which to fly to El Calafate. It poured with rain for the two whole days I was there. However, I managed to get all my errands done, but failed to buy that elusive travel towel. The clouds had disappeared and the sun was shining on the day that I was due to leave.
My flight was due to depart at 11am, but within half an hour of arriving at the airport those fateful words ‘delayed’ appeared on the overhead monitors! Information was sketchy – they had no idea when the flight would now depart. By 1pm there was still no information. We were offered a free meal. Finally, at 9pm it was announced that the flight would depart at 10.30pm. Thankfully I spent a large proportion of the day with Ben and Robyn, a delightful couple from England, who made the waiting so much more bearable.
I arrived at my hostel in El Calafate at around 2am the next morning.
Next stage: Glacier Perito Moreno.