My first ever visit
However, I’m generally a very forgiving person, so I was willing to give Argentina another chance. It is a huge country, after all, and I had only seen a tiny corner. Plus, my visit had been impacted by a lot of bad timing, bad
Argentina’s chance at redemption came when I decided to do a short visit to Bariloche while I was travelling South in Chile, as it’s just over the border. Needless to say, I arrived with rather limited expectations.
And boy, did Argentina deliver.
It didn’t just make use of its second chance, it pulled all the stops to make my time in Bariloche one of the most memorable ones of my whole trip, and more than enough to forgive Argentina for anything that may have gone wrong before.
How did it do that? Three words: hiking, wildlife and chocolate!
Let me explain.
A hiker’s paradise
If there’s one thing you can do in Bariloche, it’s hiking. It’s sitting right on Lake Nahuel Huapi and there are several National Parks and designated hiking areas all right around it. Most of them you can reach very easily and cheaply with the local buses, and then choose between plenty of hiking trails of different difficulties and lengths.
Whether it’s a 20km full-day hike or just a 2km stroll to an idyllic waterfall, Bariloche has it all. You can also grab a tent and head out for a multiple day hike. While I didn’t do that, the landscape is certainly impressive enough to keep you in awe for several days in a row.
One of my favourite hikes was in the Parque Municipal Llao Llao. It’s quite an easy walk, because the trail is mostly flat, except for one climb up to the lookout point. You wouldn’t even have to do that one, but the view is certainly worth facing some uphill climbing. The rest of the trails lead through the forest and along the lake shores, with plenty of beautiful spots for taking a break while indulging in the outstanding views.
A bird’s paradise
Another favourite of mine was the hike up to Cerro Otto because I spotted a lot of birds along the way. Woodpeckers were busy hammering away at the trees, without bothering about my presence and my camera.
Up at the final lookout, a Southern Crested Caracara was sitting up on the highest point and enjoying the views. He didn’t care about my presence any more than the woodpeckers had and we enjoyed the spectacular panorama together, just the two of us.
The town itself
Bariloche is quite a cute place, right on the lake shore. There’s an old fort in the city centre, from which the main streets spread out. The town climbs up the hill from the waterfront, so depending on where your accommodation is, you might need to do a bit of uphill walking. At least it keeps you fit, right?
While there isn’t overly much to see in the town itself regarding tourist attractions, the one thing it’s famous for is its chocolate. Which is all you need to convince me to visit, really. Promise me chocolate, and I’m there.
One of the most famous chocolate haunts is Rapanui. Despite the shop where you can put together your own individual pralines selection, they also have a café and an ice cream parlour. All equally delicious!
Bariloche was just amazing. It single-handedly upended up my opinion of Argentina and made me look forward to seeing it again later that year. Also, as my first stint into Patagonia, it made me even more excited about exploring more of that part of the world and getting to experience its beautiful countryside.
Have you been to Bariloche or anywhere else in Argentina? How did you like it? Did you never need to give a second chance to a place to change your opinion? Share in the comments.