Beautiful Bariloche: Crossing into Argentina

| May 9, 2011 | 5 Comments
This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Southern Discovery

After a beautiful journey through the mountains of upper Patagonia from Chile’s Puerto Varas (400km—about six hours), Kathryn and I crossed over into Argentina with our group and arrived at San Carlos de Bariloche—the entrance to northern Patagonia. Founded in 1902, Bariloche hugs the shoreline of Lake Nahuel Huapi and is surrounded by mountains and forests.

According to our Lonely Planet, its name is a play on the words “Carlos Wiederhold”, who opened the first general store in the area and a deformation of the word “vuriloche”, used by the native Mapuche people to refer to other native dwellers from the eastern zone of the Andes Mountain Range before their own arrival in this region

1bariloche Beautiful Bariloche: Crossing into Argentina

The civic center (Centro Civico) of San Carlos de Bariloche.

Bariloche is the gateway to Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina’s second largest National Park and its first overall—established in 1903. The region boasts a broken mirror puzzle of lakes, forest, mountains and rivers running along sharp fluvial valleys and dominated by Cerro Tronador (Thunder Hill), an inactive volcano that rises 3554 metres above sea level, with three glacier covered summits.

2llaollaoresort Beautiful Bariloche: Crossing into Argentina

Llao Llao Luxury Hotel & Resort.

Other mountains such as López, Catedral, Capilla and Negro, all rise above 2000 metres in altitude and are visible from town and from the different viewpoints along local roads.

3llaollaopeninsula Beautiful Bariloche: Crossing into Argentina

The Llao Llao Peninsula.

Passing by parrilla (grill) and fondue-style restaurants, we make our way outside of bustling Bariloche to Puerto Pañuelo, which is the main dock for boat trips—as well as trips to Puerto Blest and the boat crossing back to Chile. Across the street stands the world-renowned Llao Llao Hotel & Resort. From here, we will cruise the Blest arm of Lake Nahuel Huapi, passing by Centinela Island and landing at Cantaros Port from where we will be able to walk through the forest and enjoy views of Lake Los Cantaros and the adjacent waterfalls.

4feedingseagulls Beautiful Bariloche: Crossing into Argentina

Feeding seagulls on Lake Nahuel Huapi.

Our tour boat is a large catamaran which moves comfortably across the deep blue glacial lake. March here is near the end of Bariloche’s peak summer season—so the crowds are diminishing. The boat was not overcrowded, but we imagined that it could certainly be at the height of summer. During our cruise, tour guides broadcast tidbits of local lore over the boat’s public address system. After twenty minutes or so of cruising, we passed by Sentinel Islet where Dr Perito Moreno is buried. A famous explorer and scientist, Dr Moreno helped to negotiate the border between Argentina and Chile and, moreover, directed the anthropological museum in Buenos Aires. He was given a great deal of land for his efforts, but he contributed more than 1.75 million acres that have since evolved into Nahuel Huapi National Park. The world-famous Perito Moreno Glacier is named after him. As we passed the island, the catamaran let out three quick blasts as a show of respect.

5cantoroslake Beautiful Bariloche: Crossing into Argentina

A postcard view of Los Cántaros Lake.

Our first stop is Puerto Cántaros. Here, forests of thick cypress and coihue trees line the boardwalk to Cántaros Pond, which is set amidst a spectacular Valdivian rainforest. The trees here grow in an understory made up by low bushes, covered by lianas and climbing plants. These forests include stands of huge trees, especially Nothofagus and Fitzroya, which live incredibly long lives. This spot is one of the most humid in Argentina—rainfall records reach 4,000 millimetres per year. We disembarked to walk up hundreds of wooden steps to a waterfall—check out one of our favourite shots, which we posted as a feature a few weeks ago. Some of the group—us included—hiked around the bay on a trail muddied by the rains earlier in the week to Puerto Blest.

6puertoblestlunch Beautiful Bariloche: Crossing into Argentina

Stopping for lunch on the way to Puerto Blest.

The beautiful emerald waters at Puerto Blest are undisturbed by the swift current of the Arroyo Frias, which drains into Lake Frias, south of Puerto Blest. We stopped midway to the port to have lunch. It was magical. After a few hours exploring the forest around Puerto Blest, we returned to our boat—and back to Bariloche for dinner.

7steakbabystea Beautiful Bariloche: Crossing into Argentina

Delicious steal at 'El Boliche De Alberto'. Yum!

While in Bariloche, we visited the renowned steak house ‘El Boliche De Alberto, rumoured to be one of the best steakhouses in the area. While we agree it was good, we found our favourite steak house in the San Telmo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires—but that will have to wait for another post!

All in all Bariloche provides a strange juxtaposition—a very urban area in the middle of pristine wilderness, heavily influenced by Bavarian architecture, and replete with a St Bernard carrying a keg on its collar. But just a 10 minute drive outside of the city centre to the aforementioned Llao Llao peninsula and you’ll be surrounded by charming cottages and bungalows, Saint Edward’s Chapel, and the spectacular natural setting of Patagonian splendour at its finest.


Disclosure: At Two Go Round-The-World, we value the conversation that exists between us and our readers—and the trust on which that relationship is based. Here we’re committed to creating an environment informed by that trust. In the interests of full disclosure, we travelled with Gap Adventures, with whom Daniel works. That being said, his opinions should not be construed as representing those of his employer. For more information on disclosures and relationships, please check our ‘About Us‘ page.

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About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. His latest book, The Physics of Flocking, gathers his favourite writing featured over the past two years on Two Go Round-The-World in columns like 'Looking Back' and 'The Whole Picture'—along with new reflections.

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  1. Megan says:


    Looks amazing! I don’t think I’ll quite make it down that far on my upcoming trip – what time of year did you go?

    That’s cool that Daniel works for Gap – I’ve travelled with them before and they’re great :)

    • Daniel says:


      Good to hear you enjoyed travelling with Gap Adventures. I’ve certainly enjoyed working with them — it’s been just over a year now!

  2. Andrea says:


    I’m not sure what the fuss is about El Boliche De Alberto…we had a terrible experience there, with overcooked meat and poor service.

    • Daniel says:


      The Bife De Chorizo that I had was a good cut—and it was prepared okay. The whole meal was made better by the Malbec that Kathryn and I shared. The best part was that it was inexpensive!

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