| 8 min read
Very much unlike El Chaltén, Bariloche didn't really like to share its' beauty with us and threw up a thick screen of clouds, wind and rain - which unfortunately lasted for 3 days.
After checking into our hostel and getting hold of a contactless bus card, we went to Cerro Campanario to check out a mirador (viewpoint) - which is one of the 10 best views in the worlds.
The easy way to get up is the cable car, but that's no fun... so we hiked up in about 20 minutes. The trail is short but quite steep, so your calves are put to the test.
If it weren't for the mist, wind and the rain which started to fall, we actually would've enjoyed the view quite a bit, but we had to get out of there before we got drenched.
Cerro Tronador & Ventisquero Negro
The view out of our window didn't make us any happier today, nor did the weather forecast. Another grey, rainy day - but at least we wouldn't get wet: we rented a car for today and the day after. Car rental is expensive, so we found 2 random other people to join us for our trip: Olivier and Véronique - both French. (The amount of French guys here in Argentina is incredible - are they on a national holiday?)
Today's objective: Cerro Tronador, a 3.491m extinct volcano close to the Chilean border. We took the famous Ruta 40 (Route 40) down to the Nahuel Huapi national park, turned right and started our 140kms-of-gravel-road adventure. Man, was I glad we weren't going there in my own car: the rental car took a serious beating due to the rocks, bumps and pits in the road. I understood now why there are so few nice cars in Argentina... (well, that and the ridiculously huge import taxes of course)
After a while, we came up to an 'intersection': go left to see a waterfall (18km), or right to go to Cerro Tronador (+/-50km). We decided to check out the waterfall first, and then to go to Tronador. What's an extra 36km? Until suddenly...
... a bovine roadblock appeared! We used 'we don't speak Cow' and it was super effective: we just honked and buzzed on by, ignoring the poor cow. What's the worst that can happen when you cross a closed off bridge with close to 2 tons of steel and flesh, right?
The waterfall wasn't exactly huge, but the surroundings were very nice. It kind of reminded us of the Vintgar Gorge in Slovenia.
Wiki: Ventisquero Negro ('black snowdrift' in Spanish) is a rather unique glacier at the base of Tronador in Nahuel Huapi National Park. This glacier's unusual dark brown colour comes from dirt and sediment picked up in the glacier's accumulation zone, which is fed by the Río Manso Glacier several hundred metres higher up the mountain
After the waterfall, we backtracked up to the intersection and headed to Tronador. After 50 more kilometers of Destruction Derby Rallying, we made it to one of today's highlights: Ventisquero Negro - a black glacier. Not something you see every day...
Can you spot it in the picture?
After a quick photoshoot, we hopped back in the car - it was cold and still raining. It wasn't far now until we'd see what we came for... After a few kilometers, we finally arrived at the base of Cerro Tronador!
... and the base was the only thing we got to see: it was way too clouded and the low mist prevented anyone to see further than a hundred meters.
Everyone was a bit disappointed because of the poor weather conditions - it would've been so much nicer with a bit of sunshine. We all just wanted to go home and warm up. There were no too big surprises in the dirt road, so I set a pace Colin McRae would've approved of, and got us back to the hostel in a bit under 2 hours.
Here's some of today's scenery:
Los Siete Lagos
Los Siete Lagos or The Seven Lakes is the 190km trip starting in Bariloche, via Villa la Angostura, all the way up to San Martín de los Andes. As the name explains: along the way, you pass by 7 amazing lakes, each having its own unique color.
Most of the time, you're driving on dirt roads (again), so even though it was 'only' about 350km in total, it took us an entire day. From Bariloche, we drove up to Villa la Angostura and continued to San Martín. Even though all the lakes were supposed to have different colours, we only saw 2: grey and white. The weather was still awful...
The pictures aren't very interesting - the weather makes everything look dull and boring... So here's the ones with a tad of colour in them:
I'm sure it's beautiful and all, and our opinion is probably biased because of the bad weather, but I still can't shake the impression that -despite all the positive recommendations- it wasn't all that special altogether. Or maybe we were just getting a 'lake overload': the more you see them, the more trouble you have appreciating how beautiful they actually are...
To get back to Bariloche, we took a different route: we returned through the Valle Encantado which is a nice change of scenery and offers some gorgeous views. And it's actually shorter than the other route, so it saves you some time too. Bonus: you can do some more rallying - there are some really narrow hairpins and very sudden drops to make it all the more exciting.
Circuito Chico and Campanario (revisited)
When our luck finally turned and we got some sunshine, we went out, rented us some bikes and dragged ourselves across the Circuito Chico; a 26km loop with heaps of Bariloche's lake goodness... and lots of uphill sections for optimal cycling fun.
Don't worry, it's not that hard. It took us about 4 hours to complete the circuito, including a few short hikes, lunch break and a lot of photography- breaks - and our condition isn't exactly top of the bill... The uphill sections were a bit challenging at times, but all in all it wasn't too bad.
If you have the time and the weather's okay, this should definitely go on your todo-list. There's some really awesome scenery to be seen.
Afterwards, we revisited Cerro Campanario - and it's definitely better without the clouds...
Useful info for travellers
- We spent our evenings and nights in Bariloche at the [Universal Traveller's Lodge](http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g312848-d4757686-Reviews-
Universal_Traveller_s_Lodge_Hostel- San_Carlos_de_Bariloche_Province_of_Rio_Negro_Patag.html) hostel - a hostel that just started out last month. It's cosy, clean, the price is right, and the staff is super friendly and helpful. Highly recommended! _(thanks again, Ruben :))_
- In order to use the public transport in Bariloche, you need to get your hands on a contactless rechargeable chipcard. You can buy the chip card for ARS 17, and you have to charge it with credits.
When you get on the bus, you tell the driver where you want to go, put your card on the validator, and the cost of your trip will be deducted from the credits you put on the card.
You card is not personalised, and you can use it for multiple persons.
- The 7 lakes route stretches from Bariloche to San Martín: if you start in Bariloche, you go north on the 231, up until Villa la Angostura, and then take the 234 to San Martín.
To get back to Bariloche, you can backtrack the same way, or you can take the (unpaved) ruta 63 south until you get to the ruta 40, which brings you back to Bariloche. The unpaved road takes you through the Valle Encantado (the Magical Valley), with some beautiful scenery - highly recommended. The ruta 40 is fully paved and is a great driving road for petrolheads: lots of long, high-speed, sweeping curves.
- Try some of the chocolate: Bariloche is Argentina's chocolate capital.
Some more pictures
Have you got questions? Did you experience something similar? Did you notice a mistake? Please share!