Bariloche (the argentinian lake district) has been great and just what we needed. We decided to spend a good week here just to recover from all the moving around we had done, and considered Bariloche to have enough in and around it to keep us occupied....we were right!
The surroundings are amazing, with lakes and mountains galore. Unfortunately to get the true benefit of this you have to go UP, and this is what we spent most of the time doing here.
First we decided to do a bike ride. We had geared ourselves up for a 60km ride and were looking forward to it. That is until we realised riding in the mountains wasn't an easy task. I'm absolutely rubbish when it comes to hills so had a bit of a mare and walked up most of them. Even Jim, who is a powerhouse on a bike, was getting a little pissed off with the constant 'upness'. We couldn't complain too much though, as the weather was fine and the views were worth it, but by the time we got to the village we were aiming for we were glad that the bike hire firm we had chosen had a branch there where we could leave our bikes and get the bus back into Bariloche (20km away)! Phew!
After the day of hardcore cycling we decided to take it easy and ended up getting the cable car 'up' (do you notice a theme here?) cerro otto to get more good views of the lake district. Once again the views were breathtaking and while up there we came across a local asking for money for a photo with some Saint Bernards (it seems all the rage here). As you can see I got my own photo of them from a distance :o)
The next day we decided to visit Villa Angostura, a small town we were going to stay in for a couple of nights but instead decided a day trip would suffice. This is the closest town to the National Park Arraynes, which is the park Walt Disney based the film Bambi on. Unfortunately we didn't go into the park, but we did ascend a nearby mountain to view it all from above. Once again the journey was tough but the views were worth it. We also got to see a 50m waterfall and a woodpecker on-route.
Mount Tronador was our next adventure, which started on the bus at 8.30am. Tronador translates as thunder and it gets its name from the continuous avalanches that occur giving way to the sound of thunder. We were lucky enough to experience this while we were there.
This walk was very pleasant, not too much uphill action at all. Our first stop was to observe the black glacier. It just seemed so unreal seeing this big block of ice with the sun beating down on you! The next stop was the Garganta Diablo (another one), this time a waterfall created by the melting snow on the mountain...just amazing! After this we started our descent and were looking forward to sitting down with a nice cold drink. The journey back seemed to be longer than the way up and our feet were killing. We were so happy to finally get to the restuarant where the bus was picking us up around 5pm - it had been a long day.
After Mt Tronador we felt we deserved some rest and spent the next day by a pool on the lake for no more than 1 peso (less than 20p). For a sun lover like me, this was bliss! After our well deserved 'chill out' we went out for a few drinks and took some foolish drunken photos for you all to laugh at! ;o)
While in Bariloche we decided to visit El Bolson, a small hippy village. This was a lovely little town and we ended up staying in a really nice family run place called Hosteria Steiner. It was in the middle of a tree filled field with horses, goats and a swimming pool. We were a little out of town but it was so what we needed coming back to the peace and quiet of this place! El Bolson is the first non-nuclear town and it is well known for its food. I can vouch for this as all the food we had there was amazing! I'd definitely recommend this place.