Hola from Bariloche, where Winter has finally arrived!
We have been hanging around here for about a week, hoping to catch the start of the snow season. Unfortunately it is just really cold and wet, and while there has been some snow, there is not enough to open the ski fields yet. The lack of snow is a bit dissappointing, but it is awesome to be back in Patagonia! We loved it the first time round, and didn't expect to be able to come back again so soon! We had always planned to come to Bariloche, but when we were in El Calafate in March, we had the choice of going south to Ushuaia or coming here, and we went south because we thought we might as well see southern Patagonia while we were so close. Turns out that was a good choice, and we got to do both!
Snow capped peaks surrounding Bariloche.
Bariloche is set amidst stunning scenery of mountains and lakes, which looks very similar to New Zealand's Queenstown, and has the same snow town feel. There are loads of cool bars and restaurants, a nice square with old German style wood and stone buildings, as well as plenty of gourmet chocolate and souvenir shops.
Bariloche town square.
The lake on the edge of town.
Despite the weather, we wanted to make the most of being back in Patagonia. After spending a bit of time looking around town, we caught a bus out to Hotel Llao Llao and spent a few hours hiking through the forest. Hiking in the rain was not so much fun, and it turns out that my jacket is not water proof! The staunch Kiwi kept reminding me that the weather is worse in NZ and they still get amongst it, so I kept going and resisted the urge to complain too much. It was still nice to be in the mountains, which were actually quite different to what we saw further south. The views were somewhat obscured by cloud, but the lakes and forest were beautiful! We found one little grove of trees that looked like they came from the set of a fairy tale, and its not hard to understand why some of the locals believe there are wood elves that live in the mountains to protect the forest.
Hiking in the rain.
Enchanted forests in the mountains around Bariloche.
We did have one sunny day, so we spent an afternoon on top of Cerro Otto enjoying the spectacular views below. We caught a gondola up to the lookout, which also has a revolving restaurant, where you can sit for lunch or a coffee and enjoy amazing 360 degree views over snow capped mountains and lakes.
Cerro Otto lookout
The view from Cerro Otto overlooking Bariloche.
The whole area is beautiful, and we would love to come back one day (in Summer) to do more hiking and enjoy it at its best!