The drive to Bariloche was the first sign that we were in for a treat. The border we took was on the north end of a massive lake called Lago Nahual Huapi with Bariloche on the south end of this amazing body of water. Not only is this lake massive and blue and wet but it is surrounded by mountains! On all sides are mountains of varying impressiveness. The drive from the border to the city took us on a tour of the lake and finally we were pulling into Bariloche, trying to figure out where to drop off our new stow-aways and where we might find some wifi to communicate with Ivan and Tash who hadn’t heard from us since the night before. We pulled into a great little spot right outside the tourist info desk and near the main square. On our way to explore the street and look for a cafe, I spied a strange looking man with his dreads pulled up in a way that gave his head the appearance of a pineapple… That look could only belong to one person on the planet and it was the just the guy we were looking for! Ivan and Tash walked out of a cool looking market and we bumped into our needles out of the haystack.
They had already booked another night in a hostel because we hadn’t told them soon enough we had made it into the city. So we strolled around the town and then Becca and I took off to find somewhere to sleep, and stumbled upon our new favourite go-to, a YPF gas station. They always have bathrooms, free hot water (for tea/coffee), and never bother camper vans. This one was right beside a supermarket, so we parked, did a quick shop for dinner that night and hunkered in.
The next day we got to shower for free in Ivan and Tash’s hostel (so nice, though I let Becca go first and she used all but 1oz of hot water), and used their WiFi. Then the 4 of us got some food for lunch and worked our way up to Villa Catedral, where a lot of the local hikes start with our eyes on an easy 3km hike. It turns out that where we parked made the hike 12km, so we started downhill to a waterfall near Lago Gutierrez. We had to hop a gate and bushwhack a little, but sure enough found our waterfall and enjoyed some lunch down there. The hike back was a bit worse as we had only walked downhill on the way in, so we knew that there were some serious uphill sections we were headed into. Alas, we made it back to Alfonso, a little tired but the sun was shining and we got our lawn chairs out and enjoyed some beers. I even got the cutting board out and prepared some of the dinner in the sun (yes, we let Ivan out for fresh air sometimes…only sometimes). We slept in that parking lot and enjoyed an easy morning before heading into town to do some exploring, as it was a really windy day so the national park was closed.