You may have never heard of Bariloche. We certainly never had and we had no idea about what to expect. What a delightful surprise it turned out to be. Bariloche is just on the east side of the Andes Mountains. It is in a beautiful setting of mountains and lakes. Several ski slopes are nearby.

The city was small and spread out compared to Rio and Buenos Aires and with a much higher percentage of green spaces. Comfortable and slower paced. And the hotel was even better. Quiet, comfortable, spacious, and clean. The large window in the room offered a stunning view of the beautiful, clear water of Nahuel Huapi Lake (sounds like “nwell waupi”). The swimming pool was not large, but it was indoor-outdoor. Climb in in the downstairs pool room and swim right outside!

We had a day and a half of touring. Around the lake(s), a couple short hikes, a chair lift ride to a high viewpoint of this lake and mountain region. During a ride on the Patagonian steppe, that had a striking resemblance to our American West but not with sagebrush. We stopped for an Argentine Barbeque. This shop has been in operation for 120 years. It looked it, too. Tasty-good food.

There were several reminders of the former presence of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It seems that that story has numerous pick-your-own endings.

It took a whole travel day to get from Bariloche to Puerto Varas. This entailed a trip across the Andes Mountains and into Chile. This was a case where the journey was part of the adventure. It actually began at the edge of Nahuel Huapi Lake where we boarded a ferry for an hour long boat ride. From the other end of the lake, we boarded a bus for a short ride to another, smaller, lake, Frias, which had glacially influenced water. From here, we piled into a small bus for an hour long portage over low mountain pass on a narrow gravel road with hairpin turns. We stopped for lunch at Peulla where we also passed the border into Chile and went through customs. Finally, we boarded another ferry to cross a last lake and onto another bus to Puerto Varas.

Unfortunately, we had mostly dreary, cloudy, misty weather during most of this daylong journey. Not really nasty, but just bad enough to ruin most of the views of what should have been some very nice scenery. There were some excited discussions about a particularly spectacular volcano. We, of course, have volcanoes here in Alaska so my anticipation was not too high but after I saw a collection of pictures that featured the volcano, I was disappointed that this treasure had remained hidden.

There is a particular tree in this region – I cannot recall the name – that grows very slowly, about ½ inch per year and lives many years. We drove past one tree that was 1,200 years old. The oldest known is 2,800 years old and a stump of another is 4,000 years old. In other words, that stump was a sapling in 2,000 BC.