I’d finally made it. After almost 24 hours on a bus from Mendoza, I’d arrived in Bariloche, Argentina. My first destination in Patagonia. After hearing about how much of a hot spot Bariloche was, I had high hopes for my experience and it certainly lived up to the hype.
I loved Bariloche for everything it was, but even more for everything it wasn’t. Living in and out of hostels means between the sightseeing and learning about the culture of a place, there was also a bit of backpacker partying. I’d left behind the free wine at 7 pm at my hostel in Mendoza – not that I was complaining about that – and finally was getting back into the swing of adventure. Being in Patagonia meant two exciting things for me: mountains and hiking.
I knew I’d love Bariloche for its chocolate and resort town vibe, but I didn’t know it would make me feel so cozy and comfortable. In the end, I stayed longer than I expected – for a week in fact – as I planned the rest of my trip into the depths of Patagonia’s autumn. I quickly felt at home at the hostel that was recommended to me by new travel friends; it reminded me more of a ski lodge than a budget hostel.
Many of the houses in Bariloche looked like quaint little Swiss cottages. It’s no wonder this is one of Argentina’s top destinations for skiing and trekking in winter. The town was idyllic; I refused to let the fact that it was touristy throw me off. I, like the rest of the tourists, was there for a reason. Bariloche was beautiful.
One of the sunsets I saw was one for the books. The sky lit up the lake and the mountains in an array of purple pastels that I’ve never seen before. The each mountain and hill was a different shade, giving the effect that the mountains were moving objects in a long exposure photo.
Cycling the Circuito Chico
One of the best things I did in Bariloche, and Patagonia as a whole, was biking the Circuito Chico, a 25 kilometer (15.5 miles) ride around Lake Perito Moreno. It was the perfect opportunity to take in the sights of the surrounding area. I’d spent the last few days of working and researching at the hostel. This was also one of my first opportunities to get out and really do something in Bariloche. I was having so much fun just relaxing, walking around eating chocolate, and drinking the local beer that I hadn’t truly explored the beautiful scenery.
On the bus to the bike rental shop, I met a group of amazing female travelers. We didn’t know each other before but became fast friends after we took off together down the road.
Biking (or walking) up the hills was tough, but feeling the wind in my hair as I rode downhill was exhilarating. We also couldn’t help but stop along the way and marvel at the lake, the mountains, and everything in between.
We ended the day by hiking Cerro Campanario, one of the best viewpoints in the area. Although there was a cable car we could have paid for to ride up and rest our tired legs, our group of ladies was determined to make the hike up the hill.
The views didn’t disappoint. The sweeping views of the mountains near Bariloche took my breath away. Little did I know I would encounter so many more stunning vistas in Patagonia. Still, this first look will always have a special place in my heart. It filled me with excitement, hope, and optimism for the rest of the month I explored Patagonia. If this was the tip of the iceberg, there were more adventures to be had and I was ready to dive in.