Welcome to Bariloche
I was very sure that I would travel to Bariloche and I wanted to volunteer again. As you know from my post about the Pantanal and Cuiaba, I really like volunteering in a hostel. Like I did in Dulan in Taiwan.
A city which looks like the Alps in Switzerland? A city which is famous for chocolate? Come on, there is no way I wouldn’t stop in this city. I had high expectations, and all of them got easily beaten by this city called Bariloche. Let me introduce you to one of the coolest cities in Argentina.
Just ignore the fact that I have been only to Buenos Aires and Bariloche so far, okay?
Hostel 41 Below
You look for a relaxed but not a dull hostel? I promise this hostel won’t disappoint you. Okay, I confess I volunteered in the hostel.
But it is definitely my home in Bariloche. My colleagues are like my family (that’s how they treat you as well). And the guests are like our friends who are just visiting us everyday and anytime.
I don’t lie when I am telling you that I feel home and welcome since I put my first step into this hostel. And I am pretty sure our guests feel the same.
What else? Guys, if you can – please greet Gabi – our manager at the hostel for me. If you are staying there. Or maybe not. Do whatever you want to.
Stopping enthusing for this hostel now, I mean who cares so much where I stayed right? Okay, one more reason why you might consider to volunteer in this hostel is you will learn how to bake your own bread.
Isn’t it awesome? I was incredibly proud of my first bread. Seriously.
In short: I volunteered in the hostel for 2 weeks and all my treks are done during this time. In the following I share with you a guide what you can do during your stay in Bariloche and how to get there, how difficult the trek is etc. Let’s do this!
Day 1 – Circuito Chico and Cerro Campanario
I don’t know if you’re into biking like I am. But if yes, Circuito Chico is a must-do on your list. Write it on your list. Now.
27 kms (17 miles) up and down like on a roller coaster.
What a fun experience! Sometimes it was so hard that I got off my bike and pushed it uphill. I mean I am not the fittest person, but if you don’t like biking and are unfit – I am not sure if you’d enjoy it as much as I did. During the bike tour you can visit Colonia Suiza, a small village at the bottom of Cerro Lopez. And many viewpoints.
The bike rental is next to Cerro Campanario.
How to get there? Jump on the bus number 20 and get off at 17.5 km or 18km.
During the bike tour you can stop at Villa Tacul and its so-called “beach”, which is practically just a lake. But who cares, right? The view is worth it.
Drink some mate. I met some Argentinian girls there and we shared a good mate. That’s how weird friendships sometimes start I guess.
After Circuito Chico it’s time for sunset at Cerro Campanario.
The baby hill with a trek of 30-40 minutes hike (depends how fit you are) will bring you to one of the best viewpoints of Lake Nahuel Huapi and the National Park.
Thank you Yvonne for joining me on my first hike to Campanario, even though your feet hurt like hell. And we got lost. And I transformed again to sticky sushi rice. But I made it, that’s what counts!
So, enjoy your sunset and sip on your mate or juice or whatever you like to drink.
For lazy readers
For everyone who is too lazy to read my long prattles. Or to read in general. Here are all information you need:
How long: 3-4 hours without Colonia Suiza and Villa Tacul
How to get there: Take the bus number 20 from the city center until
17.5 km or 18 km.
Fitness level: Medium
How long: 30-40 minutes for hiking up plus your photo shoots on the top and to get down, approximately 2 hours
How to get there: Bus number 20 until 17.5 km
Fitness level: Slacker
Day 2 – Refugio Frey
Are you ready for a cool and hard trek? The name is Cerro Catedral and Refugio Frey. Actually Refugio Frey is part of Cerro Catedral.
I had frigging fun while doing this trek! Just love it.
This is the time to build up your muscles and get stronger.
Better than any gyms.
For me it is my second favorite hike in Bariloche from all my treks I have done. It is not too tiring but still challenging.
The first part is easy-peasy, just feel like a pig after wading through all the muds on the way.
But hey, it has been a long time since I felt myself like a child of 6 years old. If you are more a fuzzy person you can forget the whole Refugio Frey stuff.
How to get there? Take bus number 55 from the center and get off at the last station. From there you can already start the fun of being a cool outdoor lover and being like “I am actually not fit, but today I am and I will try to eat salad stuff”.
After you passed the mud now the real fun part starts: The lovely snow in October. My best friend was nothing more than a stick. Like in the sphinx riddle “Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?” I used a walking stick in old age.
The Hike to Refugio Frey
On the summit there is the cabin to sleep in. Lucky you if you do this, I didn’t do but I promise you an unforgettable sunrise.
So what are you waiting for? I did in 3 1/2 hours the hike up.
And 3 hours of going down. Of course I lost the track somewhere in between. The sun burned my face like hell, so don’t forget your sunglasses and sun screen. Otherwise you compete with the tomatoes in your garden.
What should I say, 3 hours down and waiting another hour for the bus is great. But what is better after a day of trekking than a hot shower and the feeling of accomplishment? Nothing is better.
For All Lazy Readers, Who Only Misuse My blog To Get Practical Information
How long: 6-8 hours plus photo shoots of the millenniums peeps
How to get there: Take the bus number 55 until the last stop
Fitness level: Fit
Day 3 – Cerro Otto & Cerro Llao Llao
Cerro Otto. Otto, Otto, a palindrome.
What should I write about this trek? After Campanario and Frey you will yawn at Cerro Otto. Lame hike and less enchanting view.
The hike is not difficult, approximately 2 hours and the view is not THAT breath-taking. Especially if you are doing the hike at 7 am in the morning and close to fall to collapse.
There is a cable car on the top which you can pay for to get down.
Just spend 250 Argentine Pesos on it (15$).
Not for someone who loves trekking like me. So of course while falling half asleep I hiked down again.
By my two lovely feet which bring me to everywhere.
Take a nap after Cerro Otto and then get ready for Cerro Llao Llao.
Amazing view! After Otto you can’t get disappointed by this one.
Moreover, it is perfect for everyone. Even for couch potatoes.
You will thank me for convincing you to go. – De nada, you’re welcome.
If you still have time, visit Villa Tacul and the Playa. Again, don’t expect a beach like Copacabana or Ipanema. It is just a lake with some humble stones and an area kind of little bit bigger than my flat in Bali.
Los Arrayanes National Park
Do you still have energy? Visit this beautiful national park called Bosque de Arrayanes. Only 3 kilometres (1,9 miles) far away is Villa la Angostura.
But probably the name is meaningless to you. Guess what? For me, too!
But there is this beautiful walking trail close by Llao Llao
(pronounced like “Chao Chao” – like a dog somehow?).
The trail is going to the 300-year-old arrayán trees (Luma apiculata) can be seen on the way to the end of the peninsula.
If you like, walk to the “beaches” nearby like Moreno Beach and an astonishing viewpoint called Moreno Lake View Point.
Lazy Readers Information
How long: 2 hours up + 1 hour down
How to get there: Walking from city center to Cerro Otto or taking the bus
Fitness level: Normal
Cerro Llao Llao
How long: 40 minutes up and 20 minutes down
How to get there: Take the bus number 20 until Hotel Llao Llao
Fitness level: Medium
Los Arrayanes National Park
How long: 1 hour walk
How to get there: Take the bus number 20 until Hotel Llao Llao
Fitness level: For everyone. Super lazy until super fit.
Day 4 – Cerro Lopez
Now! Are you ready for the super hike? Go to Cerro Lopez in October and you will know what I am talking about.
Refugio Frey was nice but Cerro Lopez is just a tad harder.
No, believe me at some point of the hike I was feeling faded and started to laugh in virtue of loosing my sanity.
I love adventures and I would say I am an adventurous person.
If you are the same, don’t miss Cerro Lopez.
Frey has the better view but Lopez has the better hike with more challenges. Of course it depends on the season, but for October it is challenging. You don’t mess around with Lopez, comprendre?
It starts with a stupid exhausting steep hike. I mean you want to arrive at the top within a day. It has an elevation of 7178 feet ( 2187 metres).
You can imagine how much I have to push myself to get there.
The best thing is just about to come. There are red dots on the tree, if you don’t follow them like I did, you doomed yourself ending up in the middle of nowhere. How fun! Plus if you start your hike at 2 pm like I did, you ask yourself if you are not quite right in the head. Like I did, again.
Congratulations, you did everything right to be a moron.
The Hike, The Challenges & Why You Should Do It
So the challenge is not only to find the right way and follow the red dots on the tree trunks. It is not the steep hike. The challenge starts once you see the snow. I can’t count how many times I fall more than half a metre into the snow when I stepped forward. And how much snow got inside of my shoes. Count the snow and the sun burning down your face and we have the perfect recipe for a great frigging exhausting adventure and misery.
Some parts are so steep, I just crawled like a baby up the hills and thought about amputating my hands afterwards. Of course I didn’t have a walking stick or gloves and scarfs and whatever you need for this amazing hike.
But I don’t mind, I came back and now I am writing this article with all my vital signs. Guys, I am alive.
Don’t worry, not that you have worried about me…
And if that wasn’t bad enough there are deep abyss at the snowy walking trail part, one wrong step and I would slide down the whole mountain for a while. Maybe transforming to a snowman while rolling down and being covered in snow, like in these American cartoons. You know what I mean?
Seriously, this is no fun. So if you consider to do it in October, please be super careful.
Arriving on the top is amazing, you will explode of happiness and that you completed such an achievement. This is one of the best feelings in the world. Did I tell you that you would smile all day long once you have accomplished it? Probably yes.
While hiking down my feet were numb. But I got down in 2 hours including watching the sunset for 15 minutes.
Lazy Readers Information
How long: 3-4 Sours up + 2 hour down
How to get there: Taking the bus number 20 until the bike rental station next to Campanario, change the bus station and get into bus number 13 until Colonia Suiza
Fitness level: Fit as a fiddle
Day 5 – Gutiérrez Lake, Cascada de los Duendes and Playa Muñoz
The last day you can calm down and do a small hike in Bariloche.
Which means you go to Gutierrez Lake, from there you can hike to a viewpoint and drop by at Cascada de los Duendes.
And then you can hike to Playa Muñoz. All in all it is just a day to relax after all the treks of the previous days I did.
Nothing special, just to get some fresh air.
How do you get there? – Take bus number 50 from city center until the last station.
For this part I don’t need to write the “Lazy Readers” paragraph. This paragraph is already written in a short way. Come on, you can do it – It’s not that long!
What Else Can I Do in Bariloche ?
Good question. Good that you’ve asked.
Yeah, Bariloche has plenty of places for people with more money than their senses, with all the luxury hotels and whatever so cool lodges next to the lakes.
Spend money on ice-creams and chocolates. That’s the best.
Drop by at Rapanui and Mamuschka, famous but very touristy.
You can also get some chic and fancy expensive woolly hats.
But don’t you dare to search for socks. Almost impossible to find normal walking socks. I spent 1 hour to search for not any fancy useless socks. That’s it.
Bariloche, the chocolate city. I ate so much chocolate from Rapanui and the brand with the matryoshka doll as a mascot (Mamuschka).
And make yourself tons of friends with other travelers and weirdos.
“This is nicer than Switzerland”
“I love Bariloche. It might be even nicer than Switzerland. ”
That’s what one of my friends told me.
But what’s more important are the people I have met during my time in Bariloche. Here I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to my friends and family from the hostel: Gabi, Anais, Ludo, Paula, Erika, Mauri, Wesley and Caro!
And the special people I have met in the hostel like Yvonne, Alicia and her mother, Camille, Theo and Alex and many more wonderful people.
Apropos Alex is such a wonderful and incredible person who traveled only with his bike from Alaska to Ushuaia. Check out his website: https://boundlessbiker.com/
And last but not least the two South African girls I have met in the beginning who are just amazing and I miss you guys: Louise and Tersa!
A big thank you if you are reading this.
Thank you for this wonderful journey with all of you.
Enjoy your trip in Bariloche. I hope my post could help you to navigate yourself a little bit in Bariloche.
Now my hitchhiking trip to the southern part of Argentina starts. It’s going to be adventurous because I decide only to hitchhike down. Cheers!