After spending one week running all over Buenos Aires — visiting museums, historic neighborhoods, and monuments — Cole and I were more than ready to get some fresh air in the mountains of northern Patagonia.
We flew from Buenos Aires to Bariloche through the Aeroparque Jorge Newbury Airport (different than their international airport where we arrived, FYI). We took an Uber to get there — only about $7 USD — from our AirBNB in Villa Crespo.
Arriving in Bariloche, we hopped on the #72 bus to town (using our same SUBE transit card from Buenos Aires) and connected to another bus to take us to our hotel in the Arelauquen gated community. Thank you, Price is Right! #nicesthotelweveeversleptin
We wanted our time in Bariloche to be balanced: days full of long, tough hikes and evenings full of relaxing at the fancy hotel.
I think we accomplished our goal.
Below we have outlined how we chose to spend our week in beautiful northern Patagonia.
Day 1: Arrive in Bariloche
- Take bus to town and another bus to our hotel – Arelauquen Lodge
Day 2: Hiking Cerro Bella Vista
- Guided hike to Cerro Bella Vista
Our Price is Right prize package included one private guided hike. Our guide picked us up from our hotel and we climbed a mountain called Bella Vista. The trail was short but very steep, and after stretching our calves for about two hours and 3,800 vertical feet, we reached the breathtaking “secondary summit.” Here we stopped for a snack and many pictures of the surrounding lakes before continuing another 40 minutes up to the summit. The 360-degree views were more than worth the climb. When we had sufficiently refueled with an amazing lunch and filled our phone storage with pictures, we clambered back down the way we had come. Our guide dropped us off at our hotel and we spent the evening not moving much.
Day 3: Cerro Companario & Circuito Chico
- Bus to Cerro Companario
- Climb Cerro Companario
- Bike around Circuito Chico
Our second full day in Bariloche was spent at the popular Circuito Chico area, just west of Bariloche. Buses run here often, so it is fairly easy to access even without a vehicle. We started at kilometer 18, where we hopped off to see Cerro Companario. A chairlift offers tour bus tourists an easy way up this mountain, but a 40ish-minute steep uphill hike provides an alternative to those who are up to the climb. Either way, the views at the top are incredible. One a clear day like ours, we were able to see several lakes, background mountains, and the city of Bariloche.
Day 4: Town of Bariloche & Piedro de Habsburgo
- Bus to town
- Patagonia Museum
- Climb to Piedro de Habsburgo
Our plan for this day was to hike to Refrugio Frey, a popular day hike around the ski area of Cerro Catedral. But when we began our bus ride, we quickly realized that our late start in the day and the cloudy skies would hinder this activity. We decided to push this hike back one day and make our way to the town of Bariloche. Without a plan, we wandered through the Swiss-inspired streets and popped into several chocolate shops to sample the goods. Our only real activity of the day was to visit the Patagonia museum ($5 USD), which is operated by the national parks. The museum was helpful in overviewing Argentina national parks and Patagonian history.
When we returned to our hotel, we decided to do a “quick” hike up to the big rock we’d been looking at high above our hotel. We were told the hike up takes about an hour on the road from our neighborhood, but we took a couple of trails leading off the road and went what ended up being the long way up to the top. Almost two hours later, we reached our destination, the huge rock called Piedro de Habsburgo. There was a storm coming in, and the clouds combined with the time of day (around 7:30 p.m.) created a gorgeous vista. The hike hugely exceeded our expectations.
Day 5: Refrugio Frey
- Bus to Cerro Catedral
- Ski lift up to the top
- Hike “a la fila” / along the ridge to Refrugio Frey
- Continue hiking down the regular trail all the way back to our hotel
This most popular trek in Bariloche was made even better with a tip from our guide from earlier in the week: take the ski gondola + chairlift up all the way to the top of Cerro Catedral, then follow the ridge all the way over to Refrugio Frey. Many other people were hiking along with us, and the rocky path was made clear with painted red dots. The hike from the top of Cerro Catedral down to Refrugio Frey took about three hours, then it took us another three hours or so to descend back to Arelauquen. In total it was about 18 miles, almost all downhill, almost all on rocks. Our joints and feet enjoyed the night off after this hike.
Day 6: Siete Lagos
- Rent a car from town
- Drive the road to San Martin de los Andes
- Continue the loop back to Bariloche
On our last day in Bariloche, we finally rented a car. Although the bus system was consistent and cheap, we were happy to not have to rely on it for one day. We drove up along the road of the Seven Lakes (or Siete Lagos) to the nice town of San Martin de los Andes. It took about three hours with many stops at overlooks along the way. Once we arrived in town, we grabbed pizza and beer and strolled around, stumbling upon a parade and popping into some boutique shops. When we began to head back, we decided to take the dirt road and were so surprised to see a different side of the area: the drier, more Utah-like area.
Day 7: Departing Bariloche
- Drop rental car off at the airport (for no extra charge!)
We had a wonderful time during our week in Bariloche. After spending a week in Buenos Aires, we were reminded of just how much we prefer outdoorsy trips to city ones. We may or may not have our sights on a few more of these trips — Norway? New Zealand? — in the near future.
But for now, we focus on this amazing two-week trip to Argentina.