We left our campsite at 7AM and it was 11˚ Celsius; this was going to be the beginning of the cold weather on our trip. We headed back to San Martin to do the trek to Mirador Bandurrias. The trek was 90 minutes roundtrip and fairly easy, just a bit steep at times. It was a very beautiful hike going up into the mountain surrounding Lago Lacar. Right before you reach the top you must pay a small fee that supports the Mapuche community who live on the mountain. The park ranger told us that it was AR$2/person but it was actually AR$4/person (total = AR$8) because they recently raised the price. After we paid the Mapuchan woman, we walked a few more minutes and reached the mirador. When we arrived we encountered the most beautiful view of the lake from very high up. It was truly stunning and a bit scary at times. The trek was definitely worth it and I recommend it to everyone!
We then left to Villa la Angostura at 10AM on the Route of the 7 lakes. The views we saw were unbelievable; lakes surrounded us with the bluest of waters and the Andes Mountains. We stopped many times at the miradors along the way for photos. A significant part of the route was under construction and unpaved, but just take your time because the roads aren’t that bad, mostly flat but with no pavement. The road was lined with beautiful purple flowers and the air was so fresh you felt like you were in an oasis.
We arrived in Villa la Angostura around lunch time and headed straight to the tourist info center. The city is similar to San Martin with its quaint houses and hotels, however it is a pretty expensive city and is also more lively during the winter season. It is very nice to drive through the city and see the landscapes and houses. When we arrived at the info center we were very disappointed to learn that Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes was AR$65 for the entrance fee and was 12km long and would take about 6 hours or more roundtrip if we hiked. There is a boat that takes you to the tip of the peninsula but it costs AR$210 roundtrip per person. We decided to skip this hike because we didn’t have the time to walk and didn’t want to spend that much money on the boat.
Instead we went to Bahia Brava and Bahia Mansa to relax and enjoy the scenery. These are two small beaches in the city which have really beautiful views and even a couple of small treks. We did one of the hikes to the Mirador at Bahia Brava. The entrance for the trail is a bit hidden and we had to ask a few people but we found it in the end and trekked to the top of the mountain which took about 90 minutes roundtrip and we didn’t have to pay anything. This trek, however, was more difficult than the one we did earlier in the day. It was much steeper and about 1 km up. The views were beautiful but not as impressive as we’d hoped.
Just 2 km outside of Villa la Angostura is Cerro Bayo (a ski resort) and if you take the road you will encounter a lot of nice scenery and a small waterfall called Cascada Rio Bonito, just 700 meters walking from the road. It’s definitely worth going to but beware of more vicious horse flies. If you continue up the road you will hit the resort but since it was summertime it was closed.
We then continued to our next destination, San Carlos de Bariloche, which is about an hour from Angostura. The scenery was, once again, breathtaking and we could see the city from across the lake. We were ready for another cute, European style city with wooden stores, but instead we were met with an average and not so special city. There are many hotels and stores but it just wasn’t pretty. We were definitely shocked because we had heard many things about how amazing Bariloche is.
We checked into the Los Troncos Hostel, which is very cute and one of the nicer hostels I’ve stayed in, for 2 nights. I was very excited to stay there because it was on the lake (which is why I chose the place) but because we chose the 12 person dorm (which was the cheapest) we were put in a room in the basement that had no windows! I was very disappointed because the hostel is not cheap [AR$88/person], but it was a nice place and in a good location so we stayed.
After relaxing and taking a nice, hot shower we went downtown and walked around a bit. It was nothing special but there was a nice Christmas tree and a band playing in the square. We got a recommendation from our hostel for a nice restaurant called Manush. It was a very cute cervejaria (brewery) just up the street from downtown and they even make their own beer!. This place was definitely not cheap like our empanadas but overall not a bad price (~AR$100/plate, which is considered good in Argentina) and is definitely worth a visit. I got a couple of cocktails and Dani got some homebrewed beers and we split a big plate of “special” fries with queso and bacon. It was so delicious! Then we got a big parma pizza with arugula, prosciutto, mozzarella, and cherry tomatoes. We went all out because it was our first time out on our trip but it was so delicious!
- Temperature @ 7AM = 11˚C
- Left San Martin @ 10AM
- AR$8 = entry for mirador [AR$4/person]
- Arrived at Villa la Angostura @ Midday
- AR$38.40 = withdrawal fee from bank
- AR$25 = Route 40 patch
- AR$20 = Grape drink
- Arrived at Bariloche @ 6PM
- AR$6 = parking
- AR$306 = Dinner @ Manush
- Total = AR$403