This post should have been about both Bariloche and San Martín de los Andes (another town) but alas we had to cancel our overnight and our full drive across the scenic “ruta de siete lagos” due to 3 upset stomachs. (The 4th wasn’t truly spared, I got it about 4 days later in another destination). Luckily this happened in one of the larger apartments we’ve stayed in that also had a lovely view! Enough about that on to the truly incredible scenery…
Bariloche was the one place in our month in Argentina I hadn’t been before and to be honest I wasn’t expecting it to be all that memorable. It’s called the Switzerland of South America (mountains, lakes, Germans and chocolate) but I didn’t think it would live up to that. Boy, was I wrong. The scenery was beyond amazing, as you will see and every bit as nice as Switzerland (cheaper too:).
We also had a car for the first time on this trip which was a nice change of pace and allowed us to set our own pace and explore more.
We took 2 gondolas to the top of 2 mountains and did a couple of scenic drives. In my opinion, the ‘circuito chico’ was just spectacular.
There were a couple of not-as-exciting parts. I wasn’t too impressed with downtown Bariloche. It was full of charming chocolate shops (good) and a some tourist souvenir shops but that was about it. How much fancy chocolate can one buy? The main plaza was pretty, with a moving tribute to the mothers of the plaza de mayo, but that took about 5 minutes! Also, during our first pass at Circuito Chico we skipped the “Colonia Suiza” which is in all the guides. It was touted as a Swiss Village and cute place to buy baked good and crafts. It didn’t look Swiss, we saw very little (though not none) baked goods and crafts. There were tons of people there, for sure, but we didn’t get it? If in the area I wouldn’t bother!
Though we were there for 5 days (some laid back at apartment with illness, though), this is somewhere I would return to explore more – finish the trip to San Martin de los Andes and a couple of other local towns, cross over the the chilean side (not far at all), etc. Have more of a chance to explore the restaurants, which have a very strong reputation in the country. (We almost exclusively self-catered at this location since we had ready access to a large kitchen and car/grocery).
However, our next stop beckoned, about 1 hour flight due south.