We boarded our over-night bus on a steaming hot Santiago evening and headed south toward Orsorno. We arrived here 12 hours later at 6 am and booked our onward ticket across the border to Barlioche, Argentina. Unfortunately due to peak season we had to wait for the 1pm bus so we filled our time at a near-by mall using the bathrooms to freshen-up and the internet to book our accommodation that night. The transition through the border went very smoothly and the journey provided stunning views through the Lake District of rugged mountains and pristine lakes.
We arrived into Bariloche in the evening feeling bus-lagged once again. After we checked into our Kiwi-owned hostel, 41 Below, we had a tasty meal of Mexican and rolled into bed feeling dead-beat. The following day we woke to a cloud-less sky and gorgeous warm temperatures. The morning was spent doing some admin and planning for our time in Patagonia (the southern region of South America incorporating both Chile and Argentina) as it is peak season and everything seems to book out well in advance.
We have noticed a sudden change in the type of tourist since entering Patagonia. Where we were amongst the oldest on our travels in Peru and Bolivia here we are by far the youngest. Due to the high cost of travel in this area tourists are older and far wealthier. This combined with the change in affluence of the city, architecture and even cars, we feel as though we have left South America and arrived in Europe. But we are enjoying the change all the same!
Bariloche is a cute town nestled into the base of the Andes. It has many designer boutiques, tourist gift shops, and outdoor equipment stores. It feels a lot like Switzerland with many bakeries, chocolate shops and Swiss-like chalets catering for the ski bunnies in the Winter.
After our morning of admin and exploring the town we caught a bus into the country and did a two hour horse-trek. This took us through the forest and up over the hills that border the lakes. We were treated to fantastic scenery and were even a tad sore when we dismounted at the end!
The following day we were back in the saddle of a different kind. We hired bikes and rode the popular Circuito Chico where we took the whole day to complete the 25 km circuit. We rode through more fantastic scenery of lavish green fields, forest tracks and hill tops that provided the most breath taking views of the lakes and mountains.
We opted for an up-hill hike part way through the circuit where we clambered up rocks to arrive at yet another excellent vantage point. We stopped for lunch on the lake shore and I was brave enough to have a very quick dip in the icey waters.
On the route home we collected drinking water from a road-side spring and stopped in at a local brewery for a quick beer. Such a fantastic day - we were spoilt with the weather and had tired ourselves sufficiently to get back on the bus the following day.
This time we have 27 hours ahead of us as we head to El Calafate in the deep south of Argentina.