Arriving by plane to Bariloche (pronouced Bare-ee-low-chay) was a true sight to behold. We were blessed without a cloud in the sky so we could see the Pampas prairies below turn into the Andes. I was excited before we even landed!
Being in Bariloche meant I was now officially in Patagonia – a region that both Chile and Argentina lay claim to. Most of inland Argentina wasn’t really mapped until the 1800s. Protuguese explorers saw big footprints in the snow and assumed giants must live here. In fact, it was indigenous people using snowshoes. But the myth of giants lived on, and Patogonia was named for “pata” = big shoes. Another interesting fact is that this is one of the only places in the world were indigenous people where never conquered by the Spanish.
This area of Patagonia is called Bariloche, or “behind the mountains,” The views really explain why. It is also the start of the Lake District that extends into Chile. The view below is of Lago Nahuel Huapi lake, and shows some of the boat trip we will be taking to travel to Chile (I am now even more excited by how beautiful that will be)!
The most amazing views are found at a ski lift called Cerro Campanario. For about $10 US ($130 Pesos), you take a fun ride up a mountain, and you can see a 360 view of gorgeous scenery for miles and miles. The pristine water and mountains in the distance truly took my breath away.
Our local guide for the day said we were very lucky to have the sunny, hot day at this time of year (+20 Celsius without a cloud in the sky and no wind).
The town itself is small and has incredible Swiss and German influences – it really does look like a European town. Many Swiss and Germans moved here after WWII (unfortunately, many Nazis and Nazi sympathizers found welcome refuge here). Apparently, St. Bernards are also part of this area’s past (helping rescue stranded travellers from the mountain ranges).
Bariloche is quaint and lovely, and the main industry here really is tourism. Apparently, only 30 per cent of the people here are locals, the rest are here for work in the tourist industry. Very welcoming and lovely place!