I’ll be honest with you I had never actually heard of Bariloche until I got there. Even then I had no clue what I was going to do when I got there. I just knew that I needed to get there because it was a nice town/city with a lot of hikes to do and it’s a perfect place to get to El Chalten from. My goal was to make my way down to the Ushuaia “FIN DEL MUNDO” (“END OF THE WORLD”) the southernmost city in the world overland. I was already slowly making my way down there. I had gone from Santiago to Pucon to Puerto Varas and now crossed the border to Argentina to get to Bariloche and from there would carry on.
When I arrived to Bariloche I did what I normally do when I arrive in a place I have no clue what I am going to do. I asked the receptionist for a map and what she recommend for me to see and do. She let me know that I had to go hike Cerro Campanario and also rent a bike and do the Circuito Chico. I thought okay I will start with that. I had a arrived late in the afternoon so decided to leave those two things for the following day. The next morning I woke up went to the grocery store to buy my lunch and went directly to the bus to get down there.
The bus was over a 30 minute ride and for some reason when I got down my knee started hurting. I had no clue why… I hadn’t done anything, but it was hurting and I could barely walk. I was upset and scared. I really wanted to hike to the top of the viewpoint because it was only a 50 minute hike up, but just couldn’t. I was so pissed because I had already failed to hike up Volcano Villarica and I didn’t want to fail at this, but I just couldn’t. Instead I went ahead and paid the $15 to take the chair lift to the top. I had never taken a chair lift so it was a novelty and nice to try it. When I reached the top I couldn’t believe the views.
From there I took the chair lift back down and walked the kilometer to the bike rental store. My knee was still hurting a bit, but I was determined to do the Circuito Chico. The Circuito Chico is a 27km (17mile) bike route loop that goes through lots of hills and stunning views. I couldn’t miss it. I tested out the bike and when I rode it my knee really didn’t hurt. What I didn’t realize though was that I had spent a long time up at the viewpoint that by the time I got to the bike rental place it was already 2:30pm and they close at 6:30pm & charge a ridiculous fee for every 30 minutes you are late. That meant that I had 4 hours to do the loop. Yeah I was fucking petrified because that’s a lot and I am so out of shape, but I was determined to do it so I took off.
The loop was spectacular. I felt so free when I was going down the hills…lol. Yeah going up was a pain in the ass, but going down I would just let go and EEEEEeeeeeee all the way down. It was so much fun. Sadly because I was in such a rush to finish I did not stop to do any of the mini hikes you can do or beaches you can swim at. Yeah I just kept going because I was exhausted and each time I had to go up hill I had to get off the bike and walk it up. I thought I was never going to get back, but before I knew it I was done. I was back at the bike rental store with 2 hours to spare. I was upset I still had 2 hours to spare because that meant I could have seen more and gone a bit slower, but I was so happy I was done. I had never biked that much in my life & much less on tons of hills. I was exhausted, but earned a lot of beer credit.
The next day I had plans to do a hike with some people in the hostel, but I woke up sore from the bike ride and my knee was still hurting. So I decided to take the day off and do nothing. I wanted to do the other hike, but knew I had many hikes to come as I made my way down Patagonia and really didn’t want to mess up my legs. I had already had problems with my calf muscle when I hiked up Villarica and now my knee for no reason. So yeah just rested and the day after that took a 25 hour bus ride down to El Chalten. I will be sharing that adventure next.
I know I don’t normally give tips, but if you are planning on visiting Bariloche you can do what I have done in one day but leave earlier. Buy your lunch the day before and leave Bariloche by 9am to get to, see and be done with Cerro Campanario by noon. From there literally walk to the bike rental place and if you rent your bike by noon you will be fine. If you do that you will have 6.5 hours to do the Circuito Chico and that’s more than enough time. Then you can actually enjoy some of the hikes that are available to do and even go swimming if the wether permits at some of the beaches on the lakes.
The craziest thing was after doing that I really thought I could go into this whole biking thing. I actually enjoyed it. Slowly I was realizing Patagonia was changing me.