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Lying on the foothills of the Andes, Bariloche is surrounded by beautiful lakes and breathtaking mountains. After spending a few days off grid in El Chalten, arriving to Bariloche feels like being back in Europe. In the city center and the surrounding area there are many prominent buildings with Swiss-like architecture. Also, there seems to be in every corner a chocolate store and there’s also many microbreweries. I start to feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven: a place with awesome hiking, delicious chocolate and good beer!
If it wasn’t because there are lots of outdoor activities to do in Bariloche, I’d have gain more than a couple of kilos during my stay. When the weather is nice, one of the most popular activities is to cycle the Circuito Chico, a 27 kilometres loop that borders a pristine lake and offers some magnificent views.
Another popular tour is the Seven Lakes route, a scenic circuit that borders gorgeous lakes, links charming towns and passes through beautiful Patagonian forests. There are several companies in Bariloche that offer tour packages. It’s also possible to do the circuit by bike, but that takes several days.
For this one, I got together with some friends I met at the hostel I stayed at. Between the five of us, we hired a car for the same price it would have cost to hire a tour package for all. It was great since we were free to go and stop as we pleased and we had fun singing stupid songs along the ride. The only problem we had, was that we got a flat tire half way through our trip!
If you don’t have much time and would like to see some of the awe-inspiring views that the Nahuel Huapi National Park has to offer, you should climb to the top of Cerro Campanario. It’s a short bus ride from Bariloche and you can either take the chairlift or enjoy the beautiful hike to the top. In any case, you’ll be rewarded by an amazing 360º view of the peaks in the park.
However, if you’re looking for a longer trek, then I’d recommend you do the hike to Refugio Frey. The trail starts at the base of Cerro Catedral, from the ski resort of the same name. The hike covers some 24 kilometers there and back and you get to see lakes, forests and majestic peaks. In fact, I saw some of the most beautiful landscapes that I saw in Patagonia during this hike. It’s possible to do it in a day, but you must start early. If you want to take your time, it’s also possible to camp or to stay at the refuge.
To see more photos of my time in Bariloche, visit my gallery.