For a long time I was obsessed with going to Argentina. I am aware that many people would think that the first visit should be Buenos Aires since it’s the capital. But in my mind I had another destiny. I had always imagined getting to discover Bariloche. At last, the moment had come and I could not believe it.
But, let’s start at the start of things. San Carlos de Bariloche, is better known as Bariloche. It is a city located in the province of Río Negro, Argentina, and is the capital of the department of Bariloche.
Besides this, it is the most populated Argentine city of the Patagonian Andes (one of the two sub-regions between which Patagonia Argentina is divided). It is located in the Nahuel Huapi National Park next to the Andes mountain range.
Bariloche is the most visited destination in Patagonia and one of the most visited destinations in Argentina. In fact, it receives around a million tourists every year. Most of them arrive in the winter season.
Bariloche has a first level winter sports center called Cerro Catedral. The winter center has a varied hotel and gastronomic infrastructure. The cold climate in winter and warm in the summer, give this region the particularity of being visited all year round with such diverse and beautiful landscapes according to the season of the year.
Its nature reserves include lakes, forests and mountains. In Bariloche the ski resorts are well known and it is considered the largest ski destination in Latin America.
But, the white mantle and its lush landscapes are not the only attractions of this city.
As if that were not enough, it is one of the most important scientific and technological poles in America. Here is the Bariloche Atomic Research Center, belonging to the National Atomic Energy Commission, and the Balseiro Institute, of the National University of Cuyo. The city is the headquarters of INVAP, an Argentine company that designs and builds nuclear reactors, radars and satellites, among others.
At last I came back to that landscape, after several years … as soon as I got to the city I went to the lake, I took off my shoes and felt the ice water on my feet, I started to play with the stones, and I sat down to contemplate the horizon cut abruptly and capriciously by immense mountains that were sheltered by the afternoon sun. The cool breeze came to my face as a blessing, while the small waves murmured in the silence.
But in addition to the curious information, Bariloche met my expectations. I must say that the beauty of these lands is complicated to put into words.
The Nahuel Huapi Lake
Let’s start with the Nahuel Huapi Lake. Its coasts give foot to the city, founded in the year 1902. This is a lake of glacial origin of the Argentine Patagonia. It is shared by the Argentine provinces of Neuquén (80%) and Río Negro (20%) and surrounded by the national park.
It has an area of 557 km² and an altitude of 700 meters above sea level. Its maximum depth is 464 meters and it has eight ramifications: Campanario, de la Tristeza, Blest, Machete, del Rincon, Última Esperanza, Angostura and Huemul. In addition, it has several islands, the most important of which is Victoria Island.
In addition to all its importance and imposing geography, other things called my attention. Details like its intense blue color, its islands and the landscape that surrounds it.
I must be honest, this lake is so great that they have a monster. The story of the monster of Lake Nahuel Huapi, is perhaps the most famous and ancient in the area.
Just as the Loch Ness of Scotland has the legend of the monster “Nessie”, in the Nahuel Huapi lake of Bariloche is “Nahuelito”.
According to the story, in this deep-water lake lives an unknown creature that some believe is a “plesiosauro”, an animal of the dinosaur era.
Bambi was born there
I just want to emphasize that I think Bariloche is magic. That’s for sure and it’s not me who invents it … it’s believed that Bambi was born there.
The story goes like this … on the banks of the Nahuel Huapi lake in the province of Neuquén, there is the Los Arrayanes National Park. This particular park has a forest with a unique species of trees in the world.
In any case, the story tells that the famous cartoonist and creator Walt Disney visited Bariloche and walked through this forest in 1941 and that he was inspired there to create the famous cartoon film Bambi. The film premiered only one year later, in 1942. In the forest, a wooden hut was built that was named “Walt Disney’s house”.
In this city, unique moments have been lived. For example, in 2014 they manufactured the largest chocolate bar in the world with 130 meters long and 800 kg in weight and have broken their record on two occasions. The first one was in 2016 when a chocolate bar of 150.5 meters was made and in 2017 the chocolate bar was 200 meters using 1500 kilos of chocolate and 400 kilos of dried fruit.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, Bariloche has become a tourist pole of great attraction for visitors from the country and abroad. It was baptized as “The American Switzerland”.
It is surrounded by magnificent mountains with eternal snow, crystal clear lakes and centuries-old forests of coihues and cypresses that make up an incomparable landscape. This area is a paradise for lovers of fishing, hunting, trekking, rafting and all sports activities in contact with nature.
But let me tell you that Bariloche is, from my point of view, one of the most beautiful cities I have seen.
All year long activities
This is a city that can be visited both in summer and in winter because it has activities for any time of the year.
Being a city that receives tourism both in winter and summer, Bariloche has two faces. One of them includes ski slopes and activities in the snow, the other includes water activities and bathing under the sun.
January, the first month of the year, has an average of 23 degrees of heat and only 6 months later everything will be covered by snow.
The inventive season is from July to September. Some of the most popular activities are:
Cerro Catedral: the most popular ski slope, has a shopping at the base and tracks for all levels, from beginner to advanced.
Cerro Otto: tourist complex that includes a revolving restaurant.
Excursions: the best excursions are to the road of the seven lakes and to Villa la Angostura, but of these and the rest of available excursions (Cerro Tronador, San Martin de los Andes, etc) we will talk later.
Chocolate Factory: in the Havanna chocolate factory you can have a hot chocolate typical of Bariloche.
The summer season runs from December to March. The city has average temperatures of 30 degrees. Some of the most popular activities are:
Beach day: in the Nahuel Huapi river.
Water activities such as Rafting, Kayaking, Stand Up Rafting.
Happy in Bariloche
Some recommendations to enjoy Bariloche even more, according to my criteria, are: spend one night in the village of Angostura, another in San Martin de los Andes and if there is time two nights in Puerto Varas (Chile) to be able to cross the lakes.
I was happy when visiting Barilcohe. It is a region of lakes, of intense blue, surrounded by mountains and the imposing Andes mountain range. It is a tranquil plan, each place has its magic, its roads are adorned by wildflowers of yellow, purple, blue and pink. In question of food the lamb is delicious and has different breweries with many options. Bariloche is a unique destination, it is magical, it is purity. You have to surrender to your landscapes, take photographic safaris, ski, fish, sail and drink some mates.