From Puerto Madryn, we took another bus to Bariloche, a town uncannily like Queenstown. It’s set on the shores of the beautiful Lagos Nahuel Huapi, framed by snow-capped mountains and tall, golden-green poplars.
It’s also the Patagonian adventure capital, with skiing being the big draw-card during winter, and white-water rafting, trekking and kayaking being the big things for summer.
This was more of a visit for Tall than me; being pregnant meant most activities would be out-of-bounds, but I was happy to let him have a bit of a play, considering all the early nights and lone wanderings I’d forced upon him!
He went white-water rafting (Grade Four, on a high river) to the Chilean border, and got thrown out of the boat just once He didn’t come back with any cuts or bruises, and was buzzing when he got back to the hotel. While he rafted, I strolled the main street and sampled chocolates in the many artisan chocolate shops that Bariloche is famous for – honestly, every 4th shop is a chocolate shop – and found a café serving pumpkin soup, which satisfied my vegetable cravings for a while.
Bariloche is also famous for its Saint Bernards, and one of the “done things” is to get your photo taken with one in the main square. These poor dogs sit there all day with their handlers, waiting for tourists to come and snuggle up to them. While I felt sorry for the dogs, it was so cold in Bariloche that snuggling into a big, fluffy dog was actually rather appealing!
We took a bus 18km out of town and caught the chairlift up to Cerro Campanario, which has the most beautiful 360 degree views. It was blowing a gale (the wind off the lake was glacial, and didn’t let up until the day we left, of course), so we spent a lovely hour in the café, eating cake and admiring the mountains from the warmth. It was absolutely gorgeous (the cake and the view!), and it was novel being on a chair lift without a pair of skis or a snowboard attached.
I’d love to re-visit Bariloche (a) in winter, to fully appreciate the surrounding mountains, and (b) when not pregnant, as I had extreme envy of my husband’s fun!
Just an hour west of Bariloche, Villa la Angostura is a sleepy little tourist village that probably comes alive during the ski season but seemed to be pretty quiet the one day we were there. We stopped over for just one night so Tall could go for a hike in the little national park (about 17km square) to a grove of 650-year-old Arrayane (myrtle) trees. He set out thinking that the trek was 12km return, but discovered that it was in fact 12km each way…needless to say, it was one very tired and stiff husband who returned from the trek.
While he walked, I had lunch in a restaurant with dozens of legs of smoked venison hanging from the rafters, and snoozed in our cute little hostel room with its low wooden ceiling and quirky nooks and crannies. It was a cute place to spend a night, but there didn’t appear to be a lot to do so that one night was definitely enough – although I can imagine it would be lovely and romantic to be holed up there for a few nights over the winter.