Before heading south to El Bolsón, we spent Friday exploring the town of Bariloche. The touristy part of town has a Swiss alpine resort feel (including a Saint Bernard with a whiskey barrel hanging from its neck) and borders a huge, beautiful lake with views of mountains across the water.
While in town we made sure to stop at an ATM to get more cash since it’s not always a guarantee that ATMs will be stocked with money. Even if they do have money they may not always accept your card, as we found out by being rejected from two of three banks in town.
We also went to a restaurant called La Marca for lunch which specializes in grilled meats. Although we didn’t know what “brochette” meant, Alastair ordered the lamb version and I ordered the chicken version. Our plates arrived with tasty noisette-style potatoes (I’m not positive but it seems the potatoes have been cooked, then mashed, then balled, then fried to perfection) and skewers with deliciously grilled meat, peppers, and onions (the waitress removed everything from the skewer before I could get a picture of the initial presentation). Yum!
The campground where we were staying (just outside Bariloche) does not have defined sites so vehicles and tents are placed somewhat haphazardly throughout the property and space can get incredibly tight. In the afternoon, a massive non-flashy bus/motorhome contraption being driven by an Argentinian hipster pulled up to the gate of the campground. After a brief discussion in the road with the camp administrator, the driver started maneuvering the beast and we assumed he was turning around to drive away. After all, there was no way this vehicle was going to fit anywhere on this crowded property, right? Wrong. The driver skillfully squeezed into a small opening amongst the other parked vehicles. It was one those moments you didn’t want to watch, but couldn’t look away.
Later that evening while relaxing at our campsite we could hear a live band nearby which served as nice background music (despite not being able to sing along). At one point, however, we realized they had switched from Spanish to English and were singing “So Happy Together” by The Turtles. We decided it was imperative to check these guys out in person. As we approached the concert (with an audience of about 20 people) we realized the band members looked awfully familiar. Turns out, our entertainment was being provided by none other than the hipsters from the bus/motorhome! It suddenly made much more sense why someone would bring such a gigantic vehicle into such a small campground. They had a family-friendly set and put on a show that made people laugh regardless of what language they spoke.
On Saturday morning we hit the road and drove a couple hours south to El Bolsón. We set up camp and spent a majority of the afternoon relaxing in the shade to try and escape the heat.
A hotter-than-expected Sunday resulted in a sweatier-than-expected hike from our campground up to Mirador Raquel. We’re guessing it was about 3800 feet of elevation gain and 11-ish miles roundtrip, with temperatures somewhere around 85 degrees (I’m solidifying my belief that I’m a low to mid 70s kind of girl). The route also included the sketchiest bridge I’ve ever crossed, with a 1-person limit due to weight restrictions and a massive wobble-factor.
Today (Monday) we switched campgrounds to have easier access to town and other hiking trails. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in finding our intended trail because our map did not accurately reflect the actual lay of the land. We wandered up a promising 4×4 track for awhile but it was eventually blocked by a gate with no trail sign or other indication that it’s totally cool for hikers to bypass the gate and continue on. We decided to go back down to the main road and settled for a short hike up Cerro Amigo. It still provided nice views of the city below and a quiet shady spot to enjoy lunch.