The crossing in to Argentina by bus was long. In the coach class upstairs we played a round of BINGO. It was a good way to kill time and we both got better at our numbers in Spanish. It took some help from our neighbors. We got into Bariloche around 4 pm. There were many more backpackers when we arrived. Young people probably travel down this way for their summer break. The line for the city bus into town was so long that we took a taxi.
Bariloche is a beautiful town (what's new). There is a large blue lake and the city sits on a hill. We checked into our hostel which had a great balcony, then went to book an excursion, buy some groceries, and eat dinner. It has restaurants, pubs, music and "Cervesarias" serving craft beer. Taylor experienced her first wave of homesickness. Between not being able to speak the language and changing places every day or two, she needed a little familiarity. So we had burgers, fries, and beer for dinner, which were amazing after a few days of eating cheap.
We left for Parque National Nahuel Huapi early the next morning. I thought the drop off point was about 40 minutes outside of town, but it took three hours to reach the main camp below Cerro Tronador. The last two hours were on a narrow gravel road winding through the park. There were some stunning lake views and we finally saw Cerro Tronador come into view. It's a white mountain covered in glaciers, while the surrounding mountaintops are dry and rocky during summer.
We started our hike around 11:30. There were some grueling switchbacks and it was nearly straight uphill for most of the route. The 8.5 mile hike took about 5 1/2 hours. It was absolutely exhausting and really pushed our limits, but the views from the top were stunning. There were untouched mountains as far as you could see. We wished we could share the experience with everyone back home. Our camp sat near the top of Tronador, right before it turns entirely to ice and glacier. Refugio Otto Meilling is a tiny shelter set between two glaciers. They helicopter in supplies, therefore it has a kitchen and a bar to serve guests. It also has beds available for anyone not wanting to camp. We setup our tent nearby against some rocks to protect from the wind. Based on the extreme noise in the night and the fact some of our stakes got ripped out from the ground, we aren't sure how much the rocks helped. It was insanely windy! There's not much else that can be said about Cerro Tronador, so check out our pictures. We both thought it was ultra challenging with unbelievable views, and one of the great experiences of our lives.
We hiked back down the next day and caught the bus back to Bariloche, arriving late in the evening. We wished we could spend a bit more time exploring this area, but we have a schedule to keep to make it on time to our trek next week.
We took care of a few errands in town the final morning and stopped to buy some chocolate (Bariloche is know for its chocolate shops) before catching our bus for a 24 hour ride further south.
Chris & Taylor
Read our travel blog as we visit three continents in 2017.