Nestled at the foot of the towering Andes Mountains in the Patagonia region, lies a charming city with picturesque views and a Swiss-like atmosphere. Bariloche is centred in a National Park of the same name and with all of its natural beauty there is no question why it is quickly becoming a city to rival its larger counter parts in Argentina.
Along the coast of the Lago Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche is surrounded by the soaring peaks of Cerros Catedral, Lopez, Nireco, and Shaihuenque to name a few. The winter season brings some of the best skiing and snowboarding in all of South America; Cerro Catedral has over 100 km of ski runs and a lift capacity of 22,000 skiers per hour. Summer will allow for thrilling treks and rigorous mountain-biking, as well as excellent trout fishing, riveting horseback riding, electrifying paragliding, and sensational boating, among other activities.
Over the last two decades, the small, quaint towns of the area have given way to the luxurious high-rises and opulent time shares. Lush day spas and resorts are offering a sumptuous escape with world-class treatments and activities. In addition, there is also plentiful shopping and, Bariloche being the chocolate capital of Argentina, you can find delectable delights in nearly every shop window.
The best trekking season in Bariloche comes around December and lasts until March. The Cerro Catedral is not only famous for its winter sports, but is also popular in the summer for these splendid treks. At the Cerro Catedral, a popular and gentle introduction to the National Park is the Refugio Frey. You can also camp here for free with a small, suggested donation if it fits your budget. The breathtaking views and natural wildlife with ensure memories to last. In fact, you may even catch a glimpse of a condor. The condor is the largest flying land bird in the Western Hemisphere, and the Andean condor call Cerro Catedral and the Andes Mountains home.
If you’re looking for something a tad more adventurous, you could explore one of the other towering peaks surrounding Bariloche. The Cerro Otto makes for great mountain biking, with trails ranging from easy to intermediate. The Habsburg Vantage Point offers a gorgeous view of Lake Gutierrez and Cerro Catedral and after your incredible trip, you will not want to miss out on dinner at the Confiteria Giratoria. It is a revolving restaurant at the top of Cerro Otto. The restaurant makes one complete turn every 20 minutes, offering the diners a complete view of Bariloche and the surrounding areas. You can also catch of three life-sized replicas from Michelangelo. These are three of his most important works: the Statue of David, Pieta, and the Statue of Moses.
One of the most prominent parts of Bariloche is the beautiful lake it is settled on, Lago Nahuel Huapi. However, this is not the only lake in the area. You can take an all-day tour by bus to see all seven of the magnificent lakes that lie between Bariloche and San Martin. On the way you will get the chance to see many of the local fauna native to the area.
Bariloche is the premier spot for high-school vacationers aiming to celebrate their last year of high-school coming to a close (If you want to avoid this, you may want to opt out from visiting around July). Since this is such a popular destinations for the younger crowd, there are many sophisticated nightclubs to dance the night and early morning away. Even if dancing isn’t your idea, don’t expect to have dinner at 5 in the evening. Most dinners occur around 8 or even 10 pm. Those ready to party like a local shouldn’t expect to leave for the clubs until at least 2 am and if you really want to live like and Argentine, try staying out until close, usually around 7 am.
While you may have found some exciting and rigorous activities already, you may be looking for something more adrenaline-inducing. Take in the sights from a bird’s eye view; paragliding is a popular activity from the Cerro Otto and Cerro Catedral.
Whether you are a beginner looking for an introduction to rafting or a seasoned rafter looking for the exciting, invigorating higher grade waters, you can enjoy either. The Rio Limayor and Rio Manso are both excellent choices and will let you be one with the natural environment.
There is nothing more invigorating than paddling around and taking in the sight or just floating along with a cool drink in hand, enjoying the sunshine on your shoulders. Gutierrez Lake is a perfect spot to soak up the sun. If fishing is your preference, you can also take out a boat on the lake and look forward to many species of trout including rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout. Don’t look forward to taking a dip in the lake, though. Most of the lakes in the region don’t go much above 13 Celsius.
Whether you prefer traditional riding or lady-like side-saddled, you will love exploring the National park by horseback. Roam the foothills of the Andes Mountains with a surprisingly calming ride.
Perhaps the most popular holiday attraction for the area, the area’s mountains offer some of the world’s most popular snow sports. The Cetto Catedral holds one of the biggest ski centres in South America and offers the best ski slopes with an amazing view of the Nahuel Huapi Lake.
If you are travelling through Bariloche or decide to stay for more than a day, you’re sure to fall in love with every part of Bariloche. Consider all activities you may participate in when going on adventures in Bariloche and look to Cover-More Australia for travel insurance options for international holidays. If you are going to be hitting the slopes consider adding ski and snowboard cover to your standard policy for added protection.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Danielle Pereia