When I woke up and looked out the window we were in the Karoo. Well, at least that is what it looked like, there was even a windpump. At this stage we had done about 800km as per my GPS and there were another 600 or so to be done. Eventually the bus entered the mountains following the river to Bariloche. The closer to our destination the more scenic it became.
By 15h00 we arrived in Bariloche, the hotel bus was already waiting and in no time were we in the hotel Sunset and half an hour after that down again to walk the town and to pick up some info from the tourist office. It's a nice place, the town is very much different from other towns in Argentina. Its origin goes back to some German and Swiss immigrants early in the 20th century. The architecture is much more Central European than the rest of Argentina.
For dinner some of the group went upstairs to eat, us as a family went to the supermarket for a few bits and pieces to eat.
We had a plan, no matter rain or sunshine, we will walk at Llao-Llao. Taking the bus No.20 out of town we got off at the hotel Llao-Llao. This is a swanky place, they charge a minimum of US$300 per night. It was fairly cool with a cold wind blowing and we thought it would be a good idea to have coffee in the hotel. Alas they wouldn't let us in, it's for guests only. Gabriel still managed to somehow sneak in and the problem was he didn't come out. So we stood outside waiting and eventually decided its time to go on a hike.
On the way over to the harbour where the start of the hike is it started to rain and we found ourselves inside the little coffee shop. Our hiking ranks were melting away and eventually it was only Lydia, Judith and I going on the hike. It was still raining when we set off, that didn't matter because we were hiking through a beautiful wet forest. But halfway through the hike the rain and wetness became too much and we took a shortcut along the road to get back. Trying to enter the hotel through the backdoor failed, because there isn't one. And at the front door we once again were told in friendly terms to piss off. We thought we may find a coffee place down the road but as we got down to it there came this red bus no.20 and stopped next to us. We had no choice but to jump on and to go back to Bariloche.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent sitting in the middle of the chocolate shop drinking coffee and eating cake. Evening was eating in the Marmite restaurant, I had Bulgarian Goulash, very enjoyable.
For today we had organised a bus ride around the lake to La Angustura. This was agreed to because of the uncertainty of the weather. As it turned out we had mostly sunshine. But the tour was not a waste, it was beautiful wherever we went.
The bus stopped at many places for the guide to show us points of interest. There was also a lunch break in a nice restaurant as well as an earlier coffee break in La Angustura. The turning point was at the river draining Lago Correntoso into Lago Nahuel Huapi (that is the big lake). An interesting detour was to the Cascada, a waterfall of the river Rio Bonito of about 20m. Here we met two crazy Americans who had just shot the fall with their canoes, pity we missed that.
It was 18h00 before we returned, the day was declared a success. Jim and Frans had arrived in the mean time and had already explored the town.
The planning meeting in the foyer was over very quickly when Judith told us what we want to do for the day. So off we marched to catch a bus to take us to Cerro Otto.
he cable car took us up to the top, the view from here was great. The height was 1400m something and the coldness on the platform was biting. Fortunately there was a nice hiking route around the top, most of it through lovely forest. Naturally we took the wrong path and it took us a while to notice that, in the forest there is no way of knowing where we are. And on top of this I had forgotten to put in a waypoint into my GPS at the start.
Eventually we did get back and sat in the revolving restaurant for the panoramic view and a coffee.
Coming down from the mountain we took the no.20 out to Llao-Llao to catch a boat to explore the upper lake. The boat was going to take us to Peninsula Querihue and Isla Victoria. At the peninsula we were allowed 45 minutes to walk through the Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes, named after some Myrtle trees. We were not allowed to leave the path and the path was mostly a wooden walk way. I think its nature conservation gone mad.
Next stop Victoria Island, there they have an experimental section where they grow all sorts of different trees, including Sequoias. I loved that place. The boat was delayed because of one passenger missing. She had been waiting at a different harbour. There was thus a 25-minute delay and everyone staring at her when she entered the boat.
The bus back to town was full with standing room only and everybody hanging on for dear life. Evening was dinner in the Familia Weiss restaurant.
It took a while to get going, by 10h00 we were on the bus no.20 on our way to Cerro Camponario, which has been described as one of the best views in the world by National Geographic.
A chairlift took us up to the top. It's not really that high but one gets a 360º view, from the high mountains of the Andes down to the steppe of the lower areas to the east. From here down to catch the no.20 to take us to the turnoff for Catedral. At the corner we waited for a long time when a tour bus stopped and offered us a lift for A$5 each, I was impressed by the free market in bus travel and we accepted the offer.
Catedral is a skiing village with plenty of ski lifts and cable cars. We took the cable car to the snow line and the chair lift from there further up to the top. This had been Christopher's dream and he played in the snow to his hearts content. A short walk took us to a little peak, at this point my GPS measured 2003m. Spending a few hours up there we eventually had to stand in the queue to get down.
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