Heading South to the vast Lago Nahuel Huapi!

Trip Start Dec 29, 2007
Trip End Dec 22, 2008

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Day 2 - 4: Heading South to the vast Lago Nahuel Huapi!
Deciding to still continue on, we boarded our 4 hour bus heading south for the town of Bariloche, beautifully situated on the south shore of Lago Nahuei Huapi, another tourist/backpacker haunt. Unfortunately the famous seven lakes drive was closed due to snow so our plan to hire a car and drive this route was sacked, the bus it was.
Despite the fact that this route is meant to be the less spectacular, it was still incredible, at first it reminded us of the Lake District, then the further south we headed the higher the snow clad mountain peaks became again as we winded round and round across deep blue and emerald lakes with not a house in sight, very remote. Still it was nowhere near as green as Chile, even though we weren't really that far from the border and more reminiscent of the brown arid rocky Peruvian landscape; it was a spectacular drive though and as we got closer to Bariloche in a place called Confluencia, we passed the most bizarre of rock formations in the mountains, quite surreal.
Driving into Bariloche, the vast lake ahead, which is the largest in the National Park, was another beauty, lined by even more snow capped peaks, sitting at the base of Cerro Otto it was quite spectacular, if only we had had the money to go skiing!! The bus station was 3k out of town unfortunately so a taxi it was and on driving into the centre although it still had that chalet-style swiss feel about it, it felt more 'lived in' than San Martin and less touristy/ upmarket. The main square/ Centro Civico with its 'Alpine style pine effect' arches & buildings were a tad orange looking and the random Saint Bernard Dog hanging around with his owner awaiting his photo to be taken added to the rather 'kitsch' feel, but overall the town was in the most beautiful of settings and a nice place to chill for a few days.
Unfortunately though the price again for a room was not looking good and even though the hostels with their homely wooden chalet style feel and open fires looked fantastic, they were 3 times what we had paid in Chile, it was mortifying, crackers for dinner it is! Traipsing round with our back packs hostel after hostel with no joy of finding something we could afford, we ended up at one called 'Freedom Hostel' which we had a discount for from a bus terminal flyer, so here it had to be. Despite the entrance part looking ok, the rooms were pretty drab compared to others we had seen and the set up was more like a hotel than a home but needs must and here we stayed whilst we figured out what we were going to do! Over the next 2 days we hardly moved whilst we researched prices, options, new routes etc.. and anyway possible that we could in someway do the boat/head south without having to do the 50 hour hell bus we had heard of to the bottom on the Argentinean side! We also briefly looked around the town, many chocolate and pastry shops , tourist shops and restaurants were the bulk of it with little else to see apart from the cathedral and of course the beautiful but rather choppy lake! Spluttering noisily around the towns too were many old bangers (plus a few million stray dogs!), how these cars mange to still function I do not know, they were hilarious!
Eventually 2 days later, we had an e-mail from Navimag to say that the boat in a weeks time would now be running so all our time researching was wasted!! Anyway it did mean we had to now kill time for a week so we decided to do Spanish school!! Both of us had wanted to do this on the trip but time and money had hindered us, so we decided to stay in Bariloche for another week, signed up with a spanish school that looked good called 'Spanish in Bariloche' then found a cheaper and better hostel called 'Barraca' that we could move to and call home for the week. Unfortunately Freedom Hostel had not got much better, wi-fi now didn't work because they hadn't paid their phone bill and two nights cooking in the kitchen we had encountered some rather rude Israelis who despite being half our age had treated us not the best taking over the place and after 2 nights of rudeness we spent our last night eating out just to avoid them! Roll on moving outta ere!! On the Sunday before 'skool' we decided to go and explore the lakes, glacier and mountains around the area, so after some research booked a cheap car for the day, this time hoping that the fact that car hire was surprisingly twice the price of Chile, that we would be in something abit more decent that our Fiat Uno banger!!
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