Bariloche Travel Guide
Introduction to Bariloche
Located along the Eastern Slope of the Andes in Northern Patagonia, Bariloche is an excellent place to begin exploring this natural treasure. Studded with countless lakes and with a backdrop of glacially carved peaks, it’s not hard to see why this area had the honor of acquiring Argentina’s first national park in 1922.
Serving as a magnet for German, Australian, and Swiss mountaineers that had immigrated to Latin America since the 19th century, a real mountain town atmosphere has developed here, which is something that you will sense within hours of your arrival.
Cultural Attractions in Bariloche
While most of the attractions you can find in Bariloche tend to be found outdoors, there are a few cultural points of interest that you can visit while in this part of Argentina. One of the most noteworthy of these is Catedral de San Carlos de Bariloche.
Begun in 1942 and finished in 1947, this neo-gothic cathedral stands out above the town, especially after a fresh snowfall. Inside, the highlights include Stations of the Cross which were carved out of clay, and its stained glass windows, which contrasts brilliantly with the gray stone that was used to build the church.
Those wishing to learn about the human and natural history of the Bariloche area will want to spend a couple of hours exploring the Museo de la Patagonia.
Containing fossils, slightly creepy stuffed animals, exhibits profiling the pre-columbian history of the area, and the history behind the creation of Bariloche and the national park, those that visit this museum will have a thorough background of this place by the time they finish looking around this fine institution.
While most immigrants to Argentina typically came from Spain or Italy, Germans, Austrians and the Swiss constituted significant numbers of them in the 19th and 20th centuries.
These new arrivals often settled in parts of Argentina that felt the most like home; they felt very comfortable in places like Bariloche, and many chose to settle here. They brought their talents with them, which included mountaineering, winemaking, and most famously, the art of crafting chocolate.
When you walk the streets of Bariloche, you will find many high quality chocolaterias everywhere you look. Set aside a decent chunk of your travel budget and take one day to head from one of these shops to another, and sample some of the finest chocolate treats you will the chance to eat during your trip in Latin America.
Other Attractions in Bariloche
If you made it all the way out to Bariloche from Buenos Aires (a 22 hour bus ride!), chances are you came here to enjoy some of the best natural surroundings that Argentina has to offer. Within the bounds of Nahuel Huapi National Park, there are many mountains, lakes, and kilometers of hiking trails for you to explore and discover.
Highlights with in this park include Tronador, an extinct volcano that is popular with mountain views of all skill levels, trails that range from short walks to scenic viewpoints to backpacking treks that can last up to 4 days from end to end, as well as some of the finest golfing in South America at Llao Llao Golf Club.
Getting in your swings on the course may be a popular pastime in the summer, but alpine skiing is one of the hottest pursuits in the area come winter time. Of the several ski resorts in the area, Cerro Catedral is by far the most popular, as it is one of the largest ski resorts in Latin America by area, it has over 120 kilometers worth of trails, and it boasts an unforgettable view of Nahuel Huapi Lake below.
Located close to the Continental Divide, precipitation here is abundant, and falls in the form of snow for much of the year; even during the summer, the white stuff is recorded on average two to three days per month.
Another way to commune with nature while in the Bariloche area is to hook up with the outdoor tour agency and arrange to go canoeing or kayaking on Lago Nahuel Huapi, or many of the other pristine Lakes located within an easy drive of this charming town.
Out on these pristine bodies of water, a peace that you have never encountered before will come over you, as you depart the everyday din that is normally associated with modern civilization. Out here, you will be alone with your thoughts as well as with the amazing mountain, forest and lake scenery that this area is famous for.