Hiking and Biking Bariloche
Aside from chocolate, Bariloche is best known for world-class hiking, biking and skiing. Since we visited in summer, we wanted to take full advantage of the beautiful weather and scenery by going on a full-day hiking and biking extravaganza.
Our hostel hosts and an Australian couple we met told us that the best full day experience was to hike Cerro Campanario for a panoramic view of surrounding lakes and mountains, and then, rent bikes to do the 24 kilometer circuito chico to see even more of the landscape. Best of all we could do it for less than $80 AR ($20 US) per person!
We took their advice and caught bus #20 for $6 AR each to Cerro Campanario. It's about 45 minutes from the city center and the stop is kind of difficult to see from the bus. We recommend keeping an eye out for kilometer marker 18 and getting off there; it's right in front of the entrance.
Once there, visitors have the option to ride a gondola up and down the mountain for $40 AR, or hike up a steep hill to the top. We chose to save money and burn calories and huff it 30 minutes uphill to the top.
There isn't much to see from the trail, but when we finally reached the summit, the view was breathtaking. We spent a fabulous hour taking pictures, eating our lunch and breathing in the clean, crisp mountain air.
There's a little cafe, gift shop, and bathrooms so it's a nice place to rest up before moving onward. We decided to take the gondola down the mountain for $20 AR to see a different view and rest our legs. It was quiet, relaxing and offered great photo-ops that you don't see from the trail.
From Cerro Campanario, we walked less than a kilometer to rent bikes from Cordillera bike company and I would definitely recommend this place. It is the second bike rental company on the main road and was only $50 AR for a 'half day' rental (after 2pm). The price included helmets, maps, a lock and even a free beer sampling at Gilbert brewery en route.
Cordillera also offers bikers the option to skip the last 6K of the circuito and drop off the bikes at another location they work with. This is perfect for inexperienced bikers like us, since according to the owner (and our Aussie friends too), there isn't much to see on the last 6k except a whole lot of traffic and busses.
The ride was equally up and down hill, and we definitely broke a sweat, but the burn in our legs melted away as the landscapes unfolded in front of us. I can't even begin to describe in words the beauty of this place, but it was truly God's Country in every sense of the word.
The weather was sunny and crisp with slight breezes to cool us off after the big uphills, there were little roadside kioskos, vendors selling homemade wine, hidden lakes, mountains so tall they took our breath away and even a pioneer cemetery. Needless to say, we filled our camera's memory card to the max. Here are a few shots to better explain just how amazing this place is:
With sore butts and landscape fatigue, we finished the 18k and gladly handed over our bikes. Then, as magically as everything seems to happen in Bariloche, good ol' bus #20 pulled up out of nowhere and took us directly back to the hostel for a HUGE dinner and some sleep!
Check out more pictures on our Vino Vagabonds Facebook fan page!