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Last Trip in Argentina – Bariloche, Patagonia!

January 3, 2011

The last day of finals at the University of Belgrano was November 4th, and that night was the Academic Programs International farewell dinner. After we ate, the gathering somehow turned into one of of the crazy-hilarious dance parties typical of our program gatherings, and then (all too soon) it was time to say our goodbyes. Most people were flying back to the U.S. on the 6th, but I had booked my ticket for a week later so that I could get in one final trip before heading home. My destination of choice? San Carlos de Bariloche, a famous ski-town in Patagonia, Argentina…

Other than Salta, this was the longest bus trip I took in Argentina, at about 24 hours one-way. My friend Marianne and I started out from Buenos Aires on Friday afternoon and arrived in Bariloche Saturday, to a cold and rainy day. To add to our bad luck, something I ate on the bus had disagreed with me, so I was stuck in bed the entire first day with a bad stomachache. But to our great delight, Sunday morning dawned bright, dry, considerably warmer, and with me fully recovered and ready to explore.

Sick 😦

Our first trip was a half-day boat tour on Nahuel Huapi Lake which took us to two different islands; one home to the Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes, the other called Isla Victoria. The Arrayanes Forest is made up of a type of petrified tree that is only found on this one tiny island, and Isla Victoria is home to another famous national park. Both were very beautiful, as was the boat ride there and back. Verdict: A nice option if you are looking for a slower-paced, scenic half-day trip.

Boat Trip on Nahuel Huapi Lake

View from the boat

Arrayanes Forest

I ❤ Arrayanes Trees

Isla Victoria

Me and a big tree on Isla Victoria

Isla Victoria

The next day we opted to venture out on our own and do some hiking, rather than pay the fee for the hiking tours offered by our hostel. So we packed our lunch and set out early to take a bus to Catedral Mountain, where we planned to do a 20-kilometer hike (round-trip) to a refuge at the top of the mountain called Refugio Frey. A little ambitious you say? I myself like to call it selective thinking. The way I see it, I just didn’t allow myself to realize what I was getting into until we were more than half-way up the mountain annnnnnddd . . .  running out of water! By then, continuing on to the refuge was obviously the smarter choice. See how I psyched myself into that? Pretty smart, huh? 😉

Our wonderful guard dog "Lucky"

Almost to the top!

Taking a break at Refugio Frey

ANYWAY, there we were: 2 girls (and a dog that we named Lucky, who followed us all the way to the top of the mountain and back), one backpack, and less than a liter of water between us, hiking one of the most famous skiing mountains in Argentina. While every person we passed (which wasn’t many) was decked out in full hiking gear, I was wearing tennis shoes and yoga pants and Marianne had on jeans and boots. I can only imagine the laughs after they passed us! But in spite of our poor preparation, we did finally make it to the top, where we took a lunch break, re-hydrated, and took a few pictures before setting off back down the mountain again. Singing Christmas carols the whole way down, I might add. 🙂

The beautiful lake by Catedral Mountain

27 kilometers later!!

Our final time – including the walk to the park and back from the bus drop-off; a grand total of about 27 kilometers – came out to around 9 hours. Not too bad for amateurs, right? And although we had countless blisters, sore muscles, and swollen fingers that night, we were also flushed with the joy of conquering the mountain and reaching our goal. For free, I might add! Verdict/Moral of the Story: Take the road less traveled, but pack plenty of water!!

Marianne was meeting another friend to go to Cordoba the next day, so she set off early on Tuesday to catch her plane back to Buenos Aires. Since I would be taking the bus back alone anyway, I decided to stay in Bariloche another day to give me time to recover and enjoy the town a bit more. I spent the afternoon at a spa in a nearby hotel, getting a massage, using the saunas and laying in the sun, then headed into town for some Cafe con Leche and facturas to close out my trip. The next day I got on the bus to to Buenos Aires and 3 days after that, hopped a plane home to Texas! Talk about getting around, right?

And that (plus the posts on my studyabroad.com blog) officially wraps up my travel-related blogs from Argentina! All the best to you on your adventures!

Besos,
Maki

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