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Visiting Bariloche (Balcones al Nahuel)

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 7 Feb 2010 11:27:28 -0300

We just spent nearly a week in Bariloche - I thought I'd make some
notes here that might turn up in searches for people in a similar

Bariloche itself was better than I expected - I was thinking it would
be absolutely packed with tourists, but actually it's quite a nice,
small Argentinian town.  There's certainly a lot of visitors, but it
still retains much of the character of a normal town (just with many
more restaurants and "mountaineering clothes" shops!).

We stayed in this flat / apartment -
http://www.balconesalnahuel.com.ar/ - and it was pretty much exactly
what we needed.  It was close to the town centre (5 min walk), on the
same block as a decent restaurant, and the views really are as good as
they show on that website.  In fact we almost didn't book because the
website photos were so "photoshopped" that we didn't trust them (one,
which has since been changed, had a view through a window that, if you
thought a little about the angle, should have looked at a building,
but instead showed clear blue sky).  In fact, if you remove the gloss
of the photos, and add a little wear and tear (one wall, for example,
had a patch of flaking paint, apparently from an old leak), they are
pretty accurate.

The owners were very friendly - they even met my parents when they
arrived in town (the night before Paulina and I) and showed them to
the building, etc.  The only negatives I can think of are that (1)
there was very little in the way of basic supplies (no salt, or spare
toilet paper, for example - all things that you can buy easily from
one of the nearby supermarkets) and (2) the telephone only made local
landline calls (the owners have cellphones, so you cannot call them
from their own apartment...).

I gather that most people who go to Bariloche stay away from the town
itself, in cabins.  But if you don't have a car, it makes much more
sense to be in the centre.  For us it worked out very well - we could
go for a meal of a coffee, while my parents could catch buses to
various sightseeing areas, etc.

Note that Bariloche was significantly colder than the equivalent
latitude in Chile (perhaps because of the altitude).  We were there in
early February and I regretted not having a warm jacket (was wearing
two t-shirts, a shirt, a jumper and a soft shell, with scarf and

Now some less positive comments about the crossing from Puerto Montt
to Bariloche.  Various firms offer this trip, but as far as I can make
out, there's a monopoly that runs the actual buses/boats.  The idea is
that you use, over a day, a series of boats and connecting buses to
travel from Chile to Argentina (or back again).  In good weather, the
views would be pretty spectacular.  However, there are also many
drawbacks - not the least of which is that we did the trip twice, and
it was cloudy both times.  Also, you are dumped for lunch in a small
town that appears to be owned by the company, and which has three
non-competing restaurants (self-service, normal restaurant, and
gourmet).  As a consequence, prices are double what you would pay in
Chile (and even more expensive compared to Argentina) and, unless you
do one of the "activities" (which cost more money), you have 3 or 4
hours to kill - not much fun in the rain (they kick you out of the
self service restaurant once everyone has finished eating....).

If you've got lots of money, or good luck with the weather, it *might*
be worth doing once.


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