Now that I have a good hiking training since Bariloche, let’s go to El Bolsón, a small city appreciated by the hippies and hikers. I went there quite sure that I would like it!
From Bariloche to El Bolsón
Friday 5th January 2017
Another bus trip that seemed to short! Only two hours separate Bariloche from El Bolsón on the famous Ruta 40. I was delighted by the mountain landscapes all along the trip, which could have gone on much longer like this. Once in El Bolsón, I waited an hour for a local bus to get to the hostel, with was located out of the centre, but was known as one of the best in the region. The house is all made out of wood, it has a delicious breakfast with homemade products, a bar with craft beer, a big garden, yoga classes everyday and a friendly atmosphere… all the ingredients to make it nice!
I got to know my roommate, Dennis, a Dutch guy just arriving from El Chaltén. He is also keen on hiking so we decided to go for a hike together on the following day. I appreciate so much this easiness to make new travel friends in each hostel!
Saturday 6th January 2017
After an fantastic breakfast (bread, jam, dulce de lece, all homemade), we left for a hike along the Rio Azul, a river known in the region for its fantastic turquoise blue colour. We had decided to go there hitchhiking so to save some money and it was a success! Three different cars drove us at the beginning of the hike, and our second trip was at the back of a pick-up. We didn’t need more to be delighted!
Dennis started from the beginning at a fast pace which we kept for the whole hike and that I really enjoyed! The environment was amazing: we crossed several times the river and the trail kept on going up and down, which changed from the ascensions of summits where you keep on climbing and then keep on going down. We walked like this up to the refuge Retamal where we had our lunch break and then came back on the same path. 31 km, 1 474 m high in less than 6h30, that was a nice hike and I have to admit that our legs were a bit tired at the end!
We had started the day speaking English but we then decided to speak Spanish, which we continued for the whole day. We are far from being bilingual but it was still a very good exercise!
A bus was leaving just when we arrived at the hike’s starting point, perfect timing! We had a well-deserved shower and then went in town to joint Anne, Renaud and Igor (the owner of the farm where Renaud was volunteering for the week) to have a drink together. The craft beers were excellent but the music (like in a fairground) and the food were terrible. I did not know that the empanadas could be fried but I don’t recommend it, it’s much better in the oven!
Sunday 7th January 2017
Another day, another hike! This time to climb the Cerro Piltriquitrón. We left in the morning with Dennis and Anne, our heads still a bit heavy because of the previous evening beers, but decided to enjoy this walk. It started strong from the beginning with a trail that felt a bit steep with no time to warm-up, but this was only the beginning!
This first trail led us to the Bosque Tallado, a kind of small park in the forest with wooden sculptures that were more or less attractive. The visit was nice but not exceptional and it’s also possible to continue the hike without stopping bye.
We then went on to a refuge located at 1 500 m high, where we got the information to climb the cerro.
Once again, the variety of the landscapes was incredible. After a first climb through a small wood, we walked on a plateau that reminded of the moon and then started the ascension to the summit. It was very steep and on slippery stones at the end, but the view during all the ascent was unbelievable and the 380° panorama at the end even more astonishing. Without any doubt one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done!
Going down was quite demanding for the legs but we were really happy to have done such a beautiful hike, hence in perfect weather conditions. We managed to go back to the city centre by hitchhiking, bought some food and went back to the hostel for a last dinner together, as Dennis was leaving on the following morning.
Monday 8th January 2017
The last days were busy and we felt the need with Anne to get some rest. It was sunny and warm (back to 30°!) so enjoying the nice garden of the hostel sounded like a good plan. I caught up a bit on the blog and we only went our at the end of the afternoon to buy some food and take a picnic at Lago Puelo, a national park in the South of El Bolsón. A nice sunset on the lake to finish our stay was perfect before leaving on the following day for another 24-hour bus trip to El Chaltén.
El Bolsón is once again a stop that I enjoyed a lot. I did not even go to the Feria artisanale, which makes it success but the hikes interested me more (and I don’t even have space in my bag for any souvenir!). Transportation is not easy as they are not many local buses but if you are two are three people the prices are correct, and hitchhiking works quite well here. And most of all, the hikes to do in the area are absolutely worth it!
To be continued…
Tips & practical infos
Bus Bariloche – El Bolsón : $95 – 4€ with the company Via Bariloche
Taxi to reach the parking where the hike to Cerro Piltriquitrón starts : $650 – 28,50€ from the hostel
Hostel La Casona de Odile : $300 – 15€ per night in a 3-bed dorm with breakfast included. The hostel is out of the city centre but has a big garden, a small river, a bar with live music and craft beer and a very nice atmosphere. The breakfast, all with homemade products (bread, jam and dulce de lece) is delicious, tea and maté are available all day long, there are yoga classes every day… one of the best hostels in the country and we understand why!
Food & Beverage
Cerveceria Otto Tipp : $80 the pint in happy hour. A very nice selection of craft beer but I don’t recommend the food (the empanadas were fried instead of being cooked in the oven, the French fries were soft and tasteless) and the music sounded like in a fairground.
Bosque El Tallado : $100 – 4,30€ the entrance