The Bike Ride
We booked our bus ticket to Bariloche from Buenos Aires. The trip is 20 hours so we spoiled ourselves and bought Cama Ejecutivo – which means your seat goes back blah blah degrees (which is actually very important!) and you get fed, like on a flight. The tickets cost $AR 677AR / AU$155 each with a bus company called Via Bariloche. The bus departed from from Retiro Station in Buenos Aries at 7pm. Hot tip – if you catch this bus and get offered a “whikky” take it – we got given about 3 shots of (cheap) whisky in one glass. A little light on the ice though, but a nice night cap!
We got dropped at the bus station in Bariloche which is about 6km out of town so we needed to catch a bus to our hostel. The stupid thing in Bariloche is you can’t buy your ticket on the bus, you need to have a card like our SmartRider in Perth that you can recharge with money. At the bus station you can buy a ticket for AR $6, but this is more expensive because when you use the card you pay AR$2.25 per trip. The bus card costs AR$14 and you can buy them from some supermarkets or the station.
We used hostelworld.com earlier to book 2 nights at the Alaska Hostel. The owners at Alaska hostel were great, they sat us down when we checked in and gave us a map and went through with us where all the things were that we would. As it was stinking hot, the first thing we decided to do was take a walk to the “beach” of Nahuel Huapi Lake, it was really peaceful and beautiful, as well as glacier freezing!!!
The next day we thought we would take the 28km Circuito Chico bike ride. We took the bus to km 18,5 Bustillo and hired bikes for AR$90 each which included helmet, fluro safety thing and puncture repair kit. We took off about 2pm (and let me tell you this is the hottest part of the day!) and the bikes were to be returned at 7pm. After the first 4.5km, of uphill, we got a reward from Punto Panoramico (Panaramic View Point) where the amazing landscape can be fully viewed.
We then continued a further 6.3km to the river crossing Arroyo Lopez (Lopez Stream). At this point we were quite hot and needed to recharge so we stopped to eat the food we packed. The river was flowing quite nicely and the water was so cold, so after a little debating Rich thought it was a great idea to refill out water bottles – took a risk – it paid off. Refreshing water and no back fires! And now I look at the map and read “It is said that drinking three sips from it’s waters will make you come back to Bariloche”. Sweet.
We rode a little bit and came to another river crossing and took a dip. Then headed on a further 3.3km to the path to Lago Escondid (Hidden Lake). We got off and went for walk but it was kinda disappointing. There was a dock that people were sitting on, and that was it.
After this we thought we better gas it as time was running out and we had to have the bikes back. We rode to the main harbor for boat trips to Isla Victoria, Puerto Blest an the lake crossings to Chile and across from this is Llao Llao Hotel which is a 5 star beast which attracts first class tourists from all over the world. Not us! We just took a look.
Llao Llao baby, South Americas most exclusive hotel
After this, I was seriously sick of riding. My legs were so sore and I had no stamina left! The dude who we hired the bikes from gave us the option of doing a bike drop off at a gas station 7km from the end of the bike ride and catching the bus back into town. I conned Richard into doing it . It cost an extra $AR15 each but I was prepared to pay! Unfortunately we didn’t actually have enough money!!! The closest ATM was about a 15 minute ride up a massive hill, I was getting disappointed!! Then Rich whips out some US dollars which the guy nearly snatched from his hand. They love that shit!
So we dropped the bikes then realised we didn’t have enough money on our bus card to get back to our hostel!! We asked the guy at the gas station where to get off to recharge our card and he said kilometre 18. So we got off there. HE WAS WRONG!!! We then had no money on our bus card and were stuck 18km from town. But this is South America! We got on the bus and played dumb, and the driver reluctantly let us on, we gave him a little gift of 6 pesos when we got off and he was much happier. Bribing is the way to go!
We went into town to find a new hostel because ours was a bit far out. We read the good old Lonely Planet and read about Hostel 1004 – The Penthouse. We thought we would have a looksie. We entered via the service elevator which was all bent up and smelt like cigarettes, we almost didn’t keep going because we thought the hostel would be worse!! But it wasn’t. We arrived as the sun was setting and the stafff were really friendly. The hostel is on the top floor of the 10 story building and has awesome views of the massive Nahuel Huapi Lake – when it’s not ashy from the damn volcano that is!