The journey from Pucon to Bariloche was very scenic going over the Andes mountains again. I wasn`t quite sure on the route that we were going to take though because a year ago the main border crossing in the area when 2 Israeli`s were camping and accidently set fire to about a million hectares of forest which also burnt down the border crossing point. Fortunately, for me I found out later that day that the new border crossing had only been open a matter of days and took a couple of hours off my journey. At the border crossing I also met Daniel a middle aged British chap, we both stood out somewhat amongst the locals. Once we were through the border we could see the burnt trees for miles either side, it was a bit eery. We had a pit stop at Junin Dos le Andes and then got back on the bus to Bariloche which arrived around 6pm. Daniel and I shared a taxi into town and we signed up for yet another asado at the hostel. Whilst it was cooking we took a stroll into town and to see the lake and waterfront then headed back for a giant steak. There were around 5 Argentinian boys staying at the hostel too and after food i went into town with them to try and get into an ice bar. Unfortunately, when we arrived there was a sign saying closed for maintenance so we went to Antares bar instead where they serve 7 different Patagonian beers on tap. I tried the honey one which was amazing, and the chocolate one which was a massive disapointment and then we headed to the good old Irish bar for a drink after. I got in at 4.30am and slept like a baby!
Next morning i was up at 9.20am (far too early) but the homemade bread and jam in the hostel did something to make me feel remotely human again. Bariloche was ridiculously busy due to all the Argentinians from the north coming down on holiday so i had to check out and go to a different hostel instead. There was only 3 on hostelbookers and hostelworld that had space for the 3 days i was there! Once sorted Daniel, Chris (a middle aged kiwi) and I caught the bus to Cerra Campanario. We arrived after 30 minutes and trekked for 40 minutes to the top. The view was incredible!
It was voted the 7th best view in the world by The National Geographic a few years ago and I can see why. The snow capped mountains in the distance, bright blue lakes and lush green forests are quite a sight. Once we had picked our jaws up from the floor after a good hour we trekked back down and headed further out of town where there is a famous hotel on top of a mountain. We wondered around for an hour and tried to find the beach onto the lake but after a fruitless search we hitchhiked a lift back to the main road to return to town. Once back we freshened up and went out to Don Alberto`s Parilla (steak) restaurant. I had met a few people on the travels that had said it was the best steakl they had ever had so thought we had to give it a go. Despite the hour wait we were not disapointed - certainly in the top 3 steaks i have ever had! Suitably full we twaddled back to the hostel and grabbed a beer. I got chatting to the young lad from reception. He was 21 and from Canada and had travelled around Scotland for a month he was saying he used to dump his bag in a bush in the highlands for the day and then return in the evening to pick it up. For some reason he thought this was a good idea when he arrived in Paris so he dropped his bag in a bush in the middle of the central park, only to return 2 hours later to find it gone to his surprise. I still don´t think he was over how daft a move that was, still he said he has learnt the hard way now as he has been wearing borrowed clothes for 2 months since!
Next morning Daniel left and Chris and I headed out of town to rent some bikes and complete a scenic 27km cycle ride. It took us round past the hotel from the previous day and up and down some challenging terrain. We stopped off to climb one of the peaks which was meant to take 40 minutes but due to some navigational errors took an 1 hour and 20 minutes instead. The view was worth it once more though and we almost had the summit to ourselves. Further on we stopped off at the 'Hidden Lake' which is the only lake in the area warm enough to swim in. There was a jetty fulled with locals jumping in and i couldn't resist but to join them. The water was so clear, but not necessarily what i would call warm! Towards the end of the route we stopped at a pub where i sampled some local beer, and then some more local beer (well it was good), so much so that the next uphill part got the blood pumping and i was starting to feel the effects of the beer. Once back at the bike rental place we had another beer or two over a game of table tennis before heading into town and going out for some cheap greasy fried chicken for food, just like a saturday night back home!
After a healthy 9 hour sleep i checked out, bought a bus ticket and hung about town until 5pm. What better way to spend the day than sampling the local chocolate shops (FI I can see why you love this place)! Once the cravings were satisified I caught the bus ready for my 13 hour journey to Puerto Madryn - land of the marine animals!