Argentina again!

Trip Start Sep 09, 2005
Trip End Feb 20, 2006

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Thursday, February 2, 2006

The bus ride into Bariloche was stunning. After crossing the Chile border we drove through 45 minutes of no mans land in rugged, densely wooded terrain that was breathtaking. We finally got to the Argentine border stop to much relief and crossed back into Argentina. The scenery seemed to get even better as we got closer to Bariloche and as the sun went down the mountains appeared beautifully shadowed above the gleaming lakes.

The Hostel we are staying at is called La Bolsa del Deporte and is an awesome purpose built wooden hostel. There seem to be people climbing out of the walls here, as there are so many hidden rooms. There is a space for Asados, Table Tennis (which I suck at), Table football, two Tv rooms and more. Its fantastic being back here after Chile turned out to be slightly disappointing and very expensive. We went out to dinner the first night laughing at how cheap it is here compared to Chile.

On Friday Murray, Daniel and myself picked up some bikes having decided to spend the day riding around the surrounding lakes. We picked up our bikes in Bariloche amid a beautiful sunny day - no clouds to speak of. First we rode along the Lago Nahuel Huapi, the main lake of the area along for 8.6km to a turn off, before another 3km to a gravel road.
We then crossed our first river below the massive Cathedral mountain range and then headed to the Lago P.Moreno Este. This large lake had perfectly clear water backed up by steep rocky and forested hills. Here we scrambled down the cliff and found a suitable rock to jump off for a few ´Cannonballs´. The water was pretty refreshing after riding in 35+ heat.

From here the road really started to climb and dip at annoying intervals, the up hills were pretty hard work! After a few kms we hit a really nice part where the Lago P.Moreno Oeste and Bahia Lopez lakes meet up in a small inlet. There were heaps of people bathing in the cold water here and we decided to take a break here. We ended up spending an hour fishing with our hands for these small fish in the river, and them eating them! (Video attached!!) After this we climbed a lot of hills into Parque Municipal Llao-Llao. At this point we(I) started to really struggle in the heat after having cycled over 35kms already. The following section was pure hell with more up hills than downhills but eventually after collapsing in a few places we finally started to make some distance home. The last 14kms we were all just running on fumes and pure sugar and it seemed to fly by a lot quicker than the last 15kms as there were no roads, just a lot of traffic. Finally we dropped of our bikes in Bariloche to a few screams of relief after having biked 80kms. Very sore arse that night!

We were absolutely exhausted after the ride but the next day, we rose early and hiked 5 hours up a mountain (MOUNT CATHEDRAL) the ski resort with an Isralei Girl we meet in the hostel. We started at the base of the resort and climbed, then descended into a valley before another sharp climb and arrived at Refugio Frey. It had an awesome lake, surrounded by tents and ice and glaciers and people were swimming and sunbathing right next to the ice, but it was hot, over 30 degrees, I don't know how the snow stays there! We really wished we had brought some gear to stay the night. The sunset would have been amazing here.
So 5 hours up and 3 hours down, it was steep and knee jarring but the views were outta this world!

The next day we rested and prepared for a massive hike up Volcan Tronador - the tallest peak in the area. Its 3500 meters high but at the top, after climbing from 1000metres to around 2500 meters, and basically walking straight up for 6 hours, there was another refugio, which we spent the night in. Unreal, cant really describe how good it was, huge glaciers everywhere, a massive peak of a jagged volcano and mountains and grassy, fern valleys and rivers, even condors. We spent a night there and met a few other trekkers who we teamed up with.

The next day we crossed the glacier and headed to a place called paseo de las nubes - or pass of the clouds. It took us 8 hours to hike to the next refugio which was again situated right next to a glacier and had the most awesome view down the cloud valley. We spent the night drinking red wine and watching and waiting for pieces of the glacier to fall off. There were loud cracks and thunderous bangs but we didn't actually see anything happen.

We spent a cold almost sleepless night there and the next day, after a 6 hour hike we caught a ferry across the lakes of - something that everyone in was telling me to do and it was unreal!!! We started at a lake called lago fria - cold lake, but then we had problems and ended up spending the night in a police station!

The second ferry we were meant to catch was full, basically we were stuck on this island, no hotels, no nothing, only the water police head quarters and nothing else. We knocked on the door, 6 of us and pleaded our case, the invited us in and gave us food and mate and we played table tennis with them, had an asado, then a few beers and slept on the floor under the table tennis table for the night and got the boat back to bariloche the next day, absolutely exhausted but it was such a great experience.

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Where I stayed
La Bolsa del Deporte
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