Bariloche is a very cool city. Known for its chocolate and skiing, what’s not to like?! We used this day in the city to get some errands done (like laundry, which hadn’t been done since Puerto Natales… a mere 3 weeks before). We also discovered some delicious bakeries, a cool climbing gym, and went to their National Parks office to plan some more hikes in the area. We even tested the Chocolate Museum, for research purposes only. It was a bit of a bust, sadly, though the chocolate we bought in the gift shop was a hit!
That night we went back to the ol YPF, this time with Ivan and Tash, and parked up for the night. The super market and YPF gas station basically share a parking lot, and at 6:00pm we were asked to move by an employee of the supermarket, and then at 11:00pm we were asked by an employee of the YPF to move (because a fuel truck was coming in the morning and we were in the way). The second move was slightly annoying because I was in bed and had to crawl to the drivers seat over Tash (who sleeps on the floor) and move Alfonso whilst in my undies.
The next morning we took of on what is called the Circuito Chico, an awesome drive west of Bariloche that follows the shore line and lets you take in some amazing views. We got out half way around the circuit to hike Cerro Llao-Llao, a small 6km fairly steep hike. Lucky for us, the hike was short but the views were incredible!
We got moving again and found a nice Mirador (lookout) to have some lunch. While on our way to the next hike we drove past a sign that said “PATAGONIA CERVECERIA”. It’s hard to say now what caused me to pull in (as we had already pasted several breweries and cervecerias), but this one spoke to me. We all hoped out and walked down the driveway, poked our heads into what Ivan and I have both decreed to be the most beautiful brewery either of us have had the pleasure of enjoying a pint at. It was beyond explanation, the mountains, the lake, the beer… does it get better?
Finally we tore ourselves from our chairs and got back in Alfonso heading for Cerro Campanario, which turned into a half hour trudge. The views from there were pretty breathtaking as well which was lucky, as post-beer, most of us were ready to bail on the hike.
We then began the drive back into a the national park, where we were planning on doing some more hiking. However, when we arrived, there was no one in the gatehouse, and we didn’t want to drive a 50km dirt road to our hike start just to get told by a ranger that we would have to drive back out and pay the fee before starting the hike. We decided on aiming for another free camp site only 19km into the park where an employee said we could camp for the night and sort out payment the next morning. That night we cracked our small BBQ from the van and Ivan went to work. We got the coals burning and Ivan got the Argentinian beef prepped. We had the most delicious burgers and steak sandwiches that night, along with Ivans home made chimichurri sauce. Though we ate at 10, we were all very pleased with the meal.
The next morning the weather wasn’t looking very good and no one seemed too keen for a massive hiking day, which might have been because of the meat sweats we still had from the night before. We decided instead to leave the park and head out for some free hikes. Turned out to be another sneaky National Park stay, oops!