With our set of wheels we set off on our first excursion, first to Cerro Catedral to do a short hike and then a drive on the typical tourist route, the Circuito Chico or Small Circuit. We paid enough for the damn car so we might as well start using it.
Hiking The Blue Run Up
Cerro Catedral is a mountain located in Nahuel Huapi National Park. It’s also has one of the biggest ski areas in South America and in the off-season becomes a popular hiking destination. Several trails from the ski resort offer spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding Andes.
Due to limited time we took the really slow gondola and a slow chair lift to the top of Cerro Catedral. We only rode chairlifts when skiing so we didn’t know how to get off the lift without skis. Do we jump? Walk off? Well when we reached the end there was someone there to grab our hand and yank us off the seat. It was a little unexpected but worked out just fine. It’s better with skis on.
Once we got our arms back in their sockets, we then climbed the short steep trail up to the pass.
Along the way we saw this little guy, a caracara or locally known as a carancho.
At first our views were mostly of Lago Nahuel Huapi. See all the pretty views.
but once we reached the pass we got amazing views of Rucaco valley below, the surrounding spire peaks and the glaciated Cerro Tronador in the distance. It was absolutely stunning.
Most people continue down the pass to hike another 6 miles to Refugio Frey and either stay overnight or take the route back to the parking lot. If we’d had our act together this would have been a great hike to do.
At an overlook we got great views of a few Andean Condors soaring high above us, which was an unexpected treat. Just really cool looking birds.
After the hike we took the chairlift back to the gondola where we enjoyed the views going down.
and grabbed some lunch at the confeteria. Great views but mediocre food but what do you expect from a restaurant in a ski resort.
Driving the Small Circuit
The Circuito Chico is a 60km tourist drive and provides a great introduction to Lago Nahuel Huapi and the surrounding area. It’s starts at the outskirts of Bariloche and winds its way around the lake, passing scenic beaches before joining Lake Moreno and the Llao Llao peninsula.
The first part of the Circuito Chico takes you through commercial and residential areas before the scenery begins to change with more wooded areas and scenic mountain and lake views.
We stopped off at Cerro Campanario for another slow chairlift ride to the top for a different view of the lake. The views were pretty nice although into the sun.
After the Cerro Campanario, we continued driving the circuit. Here is Lago Moreno in all its sunbathed glory
Ending with an awesome panoramic view of the lake and Llao Llao hotel.
One of the worst steaks we had so far in Argentina. The place which is about a few blocks from our B&B got good reviews and seemed like a nice neighborhood place. G ordered the Ojo de Bife and D ordered Entrana (skirt steak). The meat was not great quality. G’s ribeye was gristly and the skirt steak was undercooked in some places and very bland. Maybe they were having an off night. So far every meal in Bariloche has been a big disappointment. Do we sense a theme here?