Lake view from Circuito Chico

Lake view from Circuito Chico

On our recent trip to Argentina, we were lucky enough to have time to visit several destinations spread out in different parts of this vast country. One of the destinations we wanted to visit was Bariloche in the Lake District (officially, San Carlos de Bariloche in the province of Río Negro).

Biking along a mountain road

Biking along a mountain road

Bariloche is known for its serene Alpine scenery, lakes, and its exquisite artisan chocolate – which we felt obliged to try out in as many variations as possible. It’s a small town located right by the lake Nahuel Huapi. In the winter, you can ski in the nearby resorts, but we visited in spring – a good time for some biking along the mountain roads.

Pausing to admire view during bike ride

Rental bikes are available e.g. at the starting point for Circuito Chico, a scenic bike route where we saw some absolutely stunning views of the lake’s turquoise and blue water, mountains, pine trees and ferociously blossoming yellow flowers, which I soon noticed I was allergic to.

Most of the photos in this post are from our nice 27 km bike ride. Families were enjoying lakeside picnics and the bravest children were wading in the water, which must have still been chilly. It was so pretty and quiet, I could have stayed right there…

Lovely lake

Lovely lake

As everywhere in Argentina, we encountered domestic tourists visiting the country’s attractions, apparently taking small breaks from their big city lives to explore – it was nice seeing people take an interest in what their own country has to offer, especially since there’s so much nature to see in Argentina.

In Bariloche, many hotels catered for honeymooners or couples on romantic getaways, offering rooms with private jacuzzis and lake views for competitive rates.

Lake in the center of town

In central Bariloche

Rather confusingly, beautiful Bariloche with its Swiss cottage inspired buildings also has a reputation of having been a Nazi refuge… Another fact to confirm that paradise doesn’t really exist, is that arriving in Bariloche by long-haul bus we saw first some spectacular scenery for several hours (e.g. tiny El Bolsón looked tempting) and then as we approached our destination, we saw a sort of shanty town, reminding us that not everyone can afford to go on vacation like us.

It was quite strange to imagine those probably very hard-working people living like that while just a few kilometers away, in all directions, you had the most spectacular scenery, which they just couldn’t access. Not to mention the lavish hotels. The contrast was striking – though unfortunately not rare in this world. A little reality check.

Peeking through trees where we could...

Peeking through trees where we could…

Today, the small town of Bariloche has a rather touristy feel to it and we felt that we would get the most of our experience by staying in one of the peaceful hotels outside of town along the lakeside road, Bustillo. We found many good hotel deals to choose from since it wasn’t high season.

This chocolate was amazing, with whole raspberries inside

This chocolate was amazing, with whole raspberries inside

Before booking our hotel, we had read on various sites that walking along Bustillo would be impossible and so getting around would be difficult if we stayed at one of the hotels there. This was partly true, since Bustillo didn’t have any sidewalks and the traffic was rather busy. But we did do some walking.

We noticed that taxis were much cheaper in Bariloche than in some other parts of the country and a very good option for short travel in the area. We also took the local bus (you need to buy tickets in advance at the bus kiosk in the center of town).

Chocolate from Bariloche

Chocolate from Bariloche

A fun fact about Bustillo is that the road has no street numbers; instead, people talk of kilometer marks. For example, we got off the bus at km 18,3 to do our Circuito Chico bike ride.

Spring and yellow flowers

Spring and yellow flowers

We also met other foreigners biking around the same Circuito Chico route, some of them staying in accommodations or camping grounds further away from town than we were, closer to nature. One guy was rollerblading the bicycle route and some people were hiking along nature trails. The mood was sunny and cheerful.

Next up, I’ll be posting some views from Cerro Otto and Cerro Catedral, two summits we visited – we even did a little hike at Cerro Otto.

Bariloche with its lakes and mountains was stunning and such a relaxing place to visit. There’s probably a lot more we could have experienced in the area, but we were on a budget and couldn’t do everything imaginable. There’s no point in stressing about seeing absolutely everything everywhere you go, I’d rather enjoy what I do get to experience and make the most of it.

And I always say, Maybe next time!

36 responses to “Bariloche

    • Thanks! I do recommend Argentina as a travel destination! So much to see! It’s also very far from where I live, both geographically and culturally, but that only makes it more exotic 🙂 I’m happy you liked my pictures!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Argentina hasn’t been on my radar either time I went to South America. I was worried it was too expensive so did other countries instead. What did you think about the expense? What would be your must sees? Thanks, Cheryl

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right! Due to rapid inflation, it was much more expensive than our guide book and internet searches had led us to believe. I think our budget probably doubled from what we had expected. Groceries were mostly pretty expensive and so were domestic flights. Long-haul buses and bakery empanadas for dinner would be the more affordable way to go – we only took a night bus once due to the long distances but it was a positive experience and I would do it again. Hotel prices were mostly ok, since there were usually many to choose from and online comparison is so easy nowadays.

      My favorite was visiting Peninsula Valdes, near Puerto Madryn in Patagonia, a wildlife sanctuary where we saw Southern right whales and Magellanic penguins… Unforgettable!

      Ushuaia and going on a boat ride along the Beagle Channel were also pretty amazing. You could pretend you’re an explorer, hahah.. It would be nice to continue to Antarctica next time… 🙂 who knows?!

      What countries did you visit in South America and what would you recommend? I’ve only been to Argentina and Uruguay. So far!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the info. Whales and penguins are favs so that would make it most interesting. We have been to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and a long time ago, Suriname and French Guiana. Machu Picchu and the Inca trail (if you have the time and money) are a must see for Peru. Time needed for the Inca trail and money as well. You can see MP without too much cost and no time if need be. Ecuador is great but we didn’t have the money to do Galapagos and did the Inca trek instead. Colombia has a lot to offer as well and is not as scary as people think. I have been twice. I prefer countries such as Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia that have indigenous people and their markets. Bolivia has the Salar de Uyuni which is an amazing area filled with lakes, mountains, a salt desert and images that you would think are like the moon. Otherworldly. Bolivia is very popular on the backpack trail and has jungles as well. You can kind of do it all in any of these countries. I have been in the jungle in both Peru and Bolivia but preferred Bolivia’s jungle. I saw more in less time.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Bolivia certainly sounds interesting 🙂

          I just read a book about Machu Picchu and the Inca trail, that’s definitely something I’m also interested in! The archaeology and hiking. I wonder if you have pictures of it on your blog? I’ll have to check! I remember that you do have heaps of travel pictures there.

          Colombia does sound a bit scary, but I’ve also heard lots of good things about it, now reinforced by you 🙂 To me, Argentina and Uruguay were easy places to start to get to know South America; Argentina being so European in culture and Uruguay one of the safer and more stable countries there. So maybe we might venture a bit further…

          Liked by 1 person

          • I have a lot of pics of Peru on my blog, but Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia were done pre-digital so didn’t blog about them. Both Peru and Bolivia are set up very well for backpackers so you don’t have to be too brave or rich to do either… really. Just the flight of the ticket to get there and you can really do on a budget. Except unfortunately for the Inca trail that used to be cheap when I did it, but no longer is. You also have to reserve a spot to do the trail up to 6mths in advance.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Your wonderful photos make me want to be there right now! I would never have given Argentina more than a passing thought as a holiday destination before. Your post has given me somewhere else to consider for future trips, so a big thank you for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice to hear that! I was originally interested in Argentina because of the street tango but as we started researching travel destinations there, we soon realised there’s a whole miniature world to see… From jungle to glaciers, mountain to beaches, packing smartly was hard! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Really beautiful scenery. I’ve found that most countries we’ve visited have those shanty towns, which one often drives past on the way from the airport. A very grim reminder to always count our blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, the chocolates…!!!! 😉 Good to balance them with some active day hikes in Bariloche. That bus-boat trip must’ve been very long, where did you start from? Classical travel tale though… “I just bought a bus ticket…” haha! 😀


      • The bus-boat trip was quite long – three or four days at least – some of the places were just breathtakingly beautiful, just wild country, noone around. then a villa. I heard that – it was the days of the junta – some of the top military brass had holiday homes there. impossible for anyone else to reach.

        “i just bought a bus ticket” – huh, now you say it like that, i guess it is a classic travellers tale. I never thought of it like that – it’s just what happened! and im glad for it. being unprepared for the extreme beauty of the lakes and mountains of Los Andes made it all the more spectacular. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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