GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE IN BARILOCHE
San Carlos de Bariloche is the capital of one of Argentina’s most beautiful regions: at the bottom of the Andean mountain range, by the south shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi and in the heart of the park bearing the same name, close to the seven-lake route and the ski runaways… outdoor sports lovers will find plenty of activities in one place to fully enjoy: strolling, trekking, rafting, fishing, horse-jumping, skiing, etc.
San Carlos de Bariloche was founded in 1902 and has always been a small resort for summer activities. Currently, the place is a tourist town of over 100,000 inhabitants, the biggest in the province of Río Negro, North Patagonia, 120 km away from the Chilean border, and 1,615 km away from Buenos Aires. Located at 764 m above sea level, the town is surrounded by mountains, forests, lakes and rivers, and dominated by the high summits of the Andes. Its physiognomy, with mainly wood and stone architecture, is one of a mountain town similar to those of the Alps region.
It snows in winter with temperatures ranging from -10 to 0 ºC. In the spring, nights are still cold (7 ºC) and the weather is nice during the day (20 ºC), but winds are strong in October and November. In the summer, nights are cool and days are warm (up to 30 ºC) and long (from 6 h to 22 h). The fall is dry and cold (4-13 ºC). Whatever the season, do not forget to take warm clothes since nights are cold and winds strong. Bariloche has two high seasons: winter (July-August) and summer (January-February). See our article : when to go to Argentina.
HISTORY OF BARILOCHE
Patagonia has been inhabited since the Paleolithic era, as evidenced by the cave paintings, especially in the Hands Cave (Cueva de las Manos). Up to the 17th century, various communities started cohabiting in Bariloche: Tehuelches, Puelches, and Pehuenches. Later, and until the 19th century, the Mapuche culture would dominate. Although Argentina had been colonized three centuries before, Europeans did not set up in Patagonia until much later, at the conclusion of some conquer battles that reduced the indigenous communities.
By the end of the 19th century, Swiss immigrants from the Valais canton set up near the Lago Nahuel Huapi on lands donated by the Argentine government to promote colonization in a place similar to the Swiss Alps. The Swiss Colony would later extend to include German and Italian immigrants. In 1902, 25 km away from there, San Carlos de Bariloche was founded. Such a town started developing as from 1930 with the arrival of the train. The Civic Center was then set up; meanwhile, the first skiers would start competing on the Cerro Otto runaways. Bariloche grew up quickly, becoming a significant tourist center, both in winter and summer, due to the number of activities offered and the magnificent landscapes surrounding the town.
WHAT TO VISIT AND DO IN BARILOCHE?
Around town : the main activities that can be performed at the town are centered around the Civic Center, made of wood and stone in 1940. The style resembles the Swiss towns. The four figures in the clock tower represent the history of the region: the Indian, the missionaries, the soldier, and the farmer. The Patagonian Museum Francisco P. Moreno has different sections devoted to: the natural sciences, prehistory, ethnography, and regional history. Crowded streets surround the main plaza.
Nahuel Huapi national park : the Nahuel Huapi National Park spreads over 705,000-hectare surface and comprises the lake bearing the same name, the city of Bariloche, the ski slopes, and a magnificent forest hosting species such as the Southern pudú (small deer), the Southern river otter (kind of otter), the Little mountain monkey (marsupial), etc. Among the activities are various nice outings, trekking on the Tronador Volcano, a ride down the seven-lake route, a stopover at the Valle Encantado, or a boat trip to Isla Victoria.
Boat excursions : from Bariloche, boat trips down the lake are ideal to enjoy the view of the city at the bottom of the mountain. From Puerto Pañuelo, 25 km away, boat trips depart to Isla Victoria and Puerto Blest, on the border with Chile, which is celebrated for its falls and abundant vegetation.
Skiing : ski runaways are open from mid-June to mid-September. 20 km from the city is Cerro Catedral, the main ski resort having the largest ski grounds in South America: 103 km of runaways at 1,000-2,100 m above sea level, including the magnificent view of the lake. A cable car and a chair lift enable access to the summit, even in summer. The Cerro Otto station is special for practicing cross-country skiing.
Fishing : Bariloche is one of the best places to practice salmonid fishing, especially rainbow and brown trout, in the several lakes and rivers of the region. Recommended spots: Chimehuín, Correntoso, Limay, Manso and Traful rivers. The fishing season starts in November and runs till April.
Golf : the three golf courses in Bariloche evidenced the importance golf has for the region. There are two 18-hole courses: one at the Llao Llao hotel and the other at the Club Arelauquen, and in Pinares there is one with 9 holes.
IN THE SURROUNDINGS OF BARILOCHE: THE LAKES REGION
Three national parks, seven lakes, a million hectare of forests, mountains, and water streams: The Bariloche region is nature’s heaven. This outstanding setting is crossed by the lakes route, and is ideal to be discovered slowly to admire the breathtaking landscapes and charming towns.
Villa la Angostura and the Arrayane national park : adorable mountain villa by the northwestern shores of the Nahuel Huapi lake and 85 km away from Bariloche, is the starting off point of all catamaran excursions towards the Quetrihué peninsula and Los Arrayanes National Park. It has been named after a tree: the arrayán (myrtle), a species of tree in the family Myrtaceae. The paths through which to access the forest allow visitors to enjoy delightful walks through the trees of up to 600 years old.
Villa and lake Traful : A bit to the north: the city of Villa Traful offers a magnificent panoramic view of the lake and the mountains, on top of the 70 m tall cliff. Lago Traful is a main setting for sports fishing.
San Martín de los Andes and Lanín national park : San Martín de los Andes is located in the province of Neuquén, 190 km away from Bariloche by the Lago Lácar. Small and nice mountain villa offering several activities such as: skiing on Cerro Chapelco, outings, fishing, boat excursions. This place is also the entrance gate to the Lanín National Park and the araucarias forest. You may set off on great rides around the Huechulafquen lake and towards the Lanín volcano, near Junín de los Andes. Several Mapuche communities live in the park.
El Bolsón and Lago Puelo national park : 130 km south Bariloche, El Bolsón has been declared an Ecological Municipality. You may take the circuits to Cerro Piltriquitrón, where you can have a spectacular panoramic view of the Andean mountain range all the way to the Chilean border. Lago Puelo National Park, 15 km away, will unveil its Patagonian forest which is home to a group of huemuls, South Andean deers, and the turquoise-color lake.
GASTRONOMY: WHAT TO EAT IN BARILOCHE?
Fish : the celebrated trout and salmon taken from the lakes and rivers of the region.
Patagonia Beef : in Bariloche, as with all Argentina, there are excellent parrillas (Argentine barbecue). You may also taste some wild specialties: deer and boar.
Fondues : this European tradition passed on by Swiss immigrants fitted quite well to Bariloche, where you may try cheese fondues and also “fondues bourguignonnes” (meat) and chocolate fondue.
Chocolate : Bariloche is considered the capital of chocolate. You may get it all through the town at craft workshops and tea houses.
Wines : a good chance to try the Patagonian wines, the newest in Argentina, but not the least relevant. The two producing regions are: Alto Valle del Río Negro and Neuquén.
RESTAURANTS: WHERE TO EAT IN BARILOCHE AND THE SEVEN-LAKE REGION?
Naan, Bariloche : creative, traditional, and ethnic gastronomy in an intimate atmosphere.
Casita Suiza, Bariloche : a mountain refuge-type place with parilla specialties, “Pierrade,” “Raclette,” cheese fondue, deer, trout, etc.
Cassis Restaurant, Peñón de Arelauquen, Bariloche : by the Lago Gutiérrez, the restaurant owned by Ernesto and María Müller offers modern European dishes inspired by the region products (Patagonian lamb millefeuille, rabbit confit, bread crumb covered hare, etc.). It has a wine menu with over 200 labels.
Il Gabbiano, Llao Llao, Bariloche : italian restaurant near the Llao Llao, 25 km away from Bariloche. Good Mediterranean gastronomy and wine cellar.
La Macarena et Waldhaus, Villa la Angostura : chef Leonardo Morsella is in charge of the parillas of these two restaurants located in Villa La Angostura, specialized in gourmet cuisine.
La Reserva, San Martín de los Andes : regional gourmet cuisine.
La Tasca, San Martín de los Andes : cold meat, cheese, trout, deer… Region products in a rustic environment.
Caleuche, San Martín de los Andes : located in an prominent stone house by the Lago Lácar and just 5 km away from the city. Regional cuisine and home-made baked delicacies at tea time.
HOTELS: WHERE TO STAY IN BARILOCHE AND THE SEVEN-LAKE REGION?
Hotel Spa Aldebarán, Bariloche : this hotel is located in the San Pedro peninsula, 23 km away from Bariloche, and has a magnificent view of the mountains and the Lago Nahuel Huapi. It offers a restaurant, spa, and pool.
Hotel Isla Victoria Lodge, Bariloche : these facilities have an exclusive location on top of the cliff and right in the center of Isla Victoria. Great place for nature lovers.
Hotel Llao Llao Resort, Bariloche : the most emblematic hotel in the Patagonia of the lakes. It has 200 guest rooms, several activities to offer and great gastronomy.
Hotel Peñón del Lago Lodge, Bariloche : located in a natural reserve, Peñón provides a blend of design and Patagonian tradition, sophistication and cordiality.
Hotel Tunquelén, Bariloche : mansion with beautiful architecture and master view of the forest and the lake. Comfort and informal refinement.
Hotel Correntoso River Lake, Villa la Angostura : premium facilities by the Lago Nahuel Huapi. Good gastronomy, spa, pool and fishing.
Hotel El Faro Patagonia, Villa la Angostura : famous lodge by the Lago Nahuel Huapi. It has huge windows overlooking the magnificent surrounding landscapes.
Hotel Las Balsas Relais Châteaux, Villa la Angostura : “Relais & Châteaux” by the Lago Nahuel Huapi. Unforgettable setting, refinement, sophisticated spa, pool, and gourmet cuisine.
SHOPPING: WHAT TO BUY IN BARILOCHE? ?
Hand-woven crafts : carpets, blankets and ponchos very indigenous style and hand crafted.
Chocolate : all kinds of chocolate and fruit treats.
Fish and game meat : you may buy smoked products such as: trout, salmon, deer or boar.
Rosa mosqueta (Rosa rubiginosa) oils and creams : cosmetics produced from rosa mosqueta contain high levels of essential fatty acids. This is a region’s specialty.
TRANSPORTATION: HOW TO GET TO BARILOCHE?
Plane : air carriers Aerolíneas Argentinas, Lan and Lade have direct flights to and from San Carlos de Bariloche and Buenos Aires, Córdoba, El Calafate, and Ushuaia. The airport is located 15 km away from the city.
Train : once a week (14 hour-trip), the Patagonian train departures from Bariloche to Viedma, located on the Atlantic shore (800 km).
Bus : there are plenty of services to Villa La Angostura (2 h), Junín de los Andes (4 h), San Martín de los Andes (4 h 30), and El Bolsón (2 h). The trip to Buenos Aires takes over 20 hours by bus. Several bus companies go from Bariloche to Chile through the Cardenal A. Samoré crossing point, 30 km away of Villa La Angostura, up to Osorno (250 km), and Puerto Montt (390 km).
Argentina Excepción offers spectacular theme trips and circuits down the Patagonia of the lakes:
Bariloche and the Patagonia of the lakes with Fly & Drive circuit : 10 days in style hotels to discover the greatest Patagonian landscapes.
Trip from Bariloche to Salta : 14-day Fly & Drive circuit to cover two circuits in one: the Patagonia of the lakes and Northwestern Argentina, staying at premium hotels.
Trip to Patagonia of the lakes and the glaciers : 11 days with guide and chauffeur to take two trips to the best places in south Argentina.
Fly fishing in the Patagonia of the lakes : 11 days with guide and chauffeur to fish rainbow and brown trouts visiting two of the most celebrated Patagonian establishments.
Golf at the Patagonia of the lakes : 11 days down the most extraordinary circuits of the region, from Bariloche to San Martín de los Andes.
Polo school in the pampa and the Patagonia of the lakes : 10 days in two excellent schools?all levels included.