San Carlos de Bariloche, or simply “Bariloche” as the locals call it, also known as Argentina’s Little Switzerland. A mecca for visitors from around the world. Situated in the foothills of the Andes and on the banks of Lake Lago Nahuel Huapi, it’s a picture-perfect place for winter and summer activities.

As we landed at Bariloche’s airport, we immediately donned jackets and sneakers to ward off the chilly temperatures. It never seems to get warmer than 10 degrees Celsius in the summer.

Alpine styled buildings designed by Ezequiel Bustillo and built in the 1930s, now home to the city hall, police station and the Museum of Patagonia in the centre of Bariloche
Alpine styled buildings designed by Ezequiel Bustillo and built in the 1930s, now home to the city hall, police station and the Museum of Patagonia in the centre of Bariloche

The town is teeming with visitors from all around the world and Argentinians on vacation. The streets are tough to navigate without bumping into people. Looking around the town, you realize that this is a favourite spot for the end of year school celebrations. Masses of school children line the sidewalks as you wander.

Civic Center Plaza, the town square  is also famous for its Saint Bernard dogs.  Owners wait for tourists to pose for photos with the their dogs.  Painted on the ground are memorials to the disappeared from the 70's from Argentina's dark past.
Civic Center Plaza, the town square is also famous for its Saint Bernard dogs. Owners wait for tourists to pose for photos with their dogs. On the square ground, white memorials are painted commemorating the disappeared from Argentina’s dark past.

Famous for its chocolate shops and cafes, no visit would be complete without taking a coffee and chocolate tasting at the famous Mamuschka’s artisan chocolate shop. Dulce de leche, a caramel treat, is the foundation of many sweets and is in abundant supply in Mamuschkas, further confirming Argentinian’s obsession with their sweets.

TIP:  From late July to mid-September, Bariloche fills to the brim with tourists from the southern hemisphere and a large number of Brazilians.

Mamsuschka colourful storefront
Mamsuschka colourful storefront
Mamuschka's famous chocolates on display in Bariloche, Argentina
Mamuschka’s famous chocolates on display
Bariloche, Argentina - Enjoying a coffee break at Mamuschka.
Enjoying a coffee break at Mamuschka.

Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapa

Spending a day in the magnificent Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapa and getting out of busy Bariloche, one can breathe the fresh crisp air. This park is a sports enthusiast’s paradise. Travelers can easily spend time hiking, biking, and gazing at the Andes Mountains ranges. In the distance, the Andes appear like a Cézanne painting coming to life.

Cerro Companario is the best lookout point in the region with exceptional views of  Nahuel Huapi and Perito Moreno lakes and breathtaking views of the Llao Llao Peninsula. The chairlift takes visitors to the viewing areas for a small fee.

The Chairlift takes visitors to the top.
Strong winds whip around the peninsula as you take in the views.
LLao LLao Peninsula views, just outside Bariloche, Argentina
LLao LLao Peninsula views
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Bariloche LLao LLao Hotel
LLao LLao Hotel

Victoria Island and Arrayanes Forest Boat Excursion

Taking a boat trip on Nahuel Huapi Lake and exploring Victoria Island with its rugged landscape, appreciation of plants and fauna is a must for anyone visiting this region. Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes, one of the stops on the trip, is a fascinating island with the protected Arrayanes Tree, which are cinnamon or brick-red in color – a byproduct of the tannin concentration.

Views of Lake from the boat
Views of Lake from the boat
Bariloche, Argentian - Arrayanes Forest
Arrayanes Forest

This was one of our priciest excursions during the tour (costing around 500 pesos, approximately $100 US for the day*), but absolutely worth the experience.

*prices quoted in this post are as of first publication date in 2014.

Note: Bariloche, Argentina, was just one of the stops on the Best of Chile and Argentina tour with Intrepid Travel.  

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