28/04/2015 Bariloche was my last proper hiking opportunity for a while with Buenos Aires and then Uruguay as the next destinations. I made the most of the time by hiking for 3 days and 2 nights through the great landscapes of Argentina’s Lake District, scrambling up steep cliffs and camping on the peaks with some incredible views.
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The Nahuel Huapi National Park was certainly a place I could not miss as an outdoor lover, though I had concerns that it might disappoint me after all the amazing trekking in both Torres del Paine and the El Chaltén areas. Arriving early on a Tuesday morning, I was on a tight schedule and could only spare time for a 3-day hike with my camping equipment as my flight to Buenos Aires was booked on Thursday evening. Packed up with enough food, I started the hike from Bariloche and was headed towards Cerro Catedral, a famous winter ski resort, but also a great place for hiking during the warmer months.
The first part of the hike was just following a road, but soon after I would find myself in front of an amazing lake after a fair bit of uphill trekking. There was a hut here as well and the surrounding mountains produced perfect mirror images on the lake. I could not enjoy the view for long as my plan was to find a nice camp spot just for myself somewhere higher up in the mountains. I passed Laguna Schmoll and it seemed like I would get to a higher pass very soon, so despite the fact that the sun was already set and it was becoming dark slowly now, I continued to climb up higher and higher.
Soon after, I reached the path heading towards Cerro Catedral and decided to camp right there, next to a big rock that would hopefully give some protection from any wind that might come up during the night. Setting up my small tent in a fast manner, I was even able to climb up to some of the nearby rocks to enjoy the last bits of sunset colors on the horizon, before finally eating dinner and getting rest. The night was really cold up here on around 2300m, but my sleeping bag had no problems handling the temperature. The next morning offered amazing views as I was higher than the clouds, covering everything around me. I spent roughly two hours for the hike to Cerro Catedral, enjoyed the views there and walked back the same path to pack up my previously wet tent from the night frost.
I had a very long day ahead, covering a big distance so I could complete the circuit in just 3 instead of usually 5 days. The landscape quickly changed after descending down into the valley and I was now surrounded by beautiful trees with nice golden red leafs. I walked in a fast pace and only really stopped to take pictures or refill my bottle with the fresh river water, allowing me to cover a lot of ground in a single day, climbing up and down more mountains, passing crystal clear lakes and even doing some proper climbing when I decided to take a shortcut to save some time. I actually ended up on a pillar after an hard, but super fun climb. My Backpack too a lot of beating, but luckily it is made out of Kevlar and could deal with all the sharp rocks easily. I think I actually lost some time in the end, because climbing down the pillar again with my heavy load took a lot of attention and shouldn’t be rushed.
I walked and walked until the sun disappeared behind the mountains and was on my way to the peak near Cerro Navidad, Just knowing that it would be very flat, my goal was to set up camp there. As I got closer to the summit, I was astonished by the amazing colors in the sky and all of the sudden, the sun actually peaked out below the clouds for just a few minutes before it would disappear behind a mountain again. I was so mesmerized by this experience, which ranks in my personal top 3 when it comes down to amazing sunsets, that I had to set up my tent on the flat summit in total darkness. I just couldn’t help but wonder to stare at the amazing mordor-like mountain with the dramatic orange clouds above it!
After another freezing night wild camping on the mountain, I woke up to an amazing sunrise in the morning. The day started with a very steep scramble down towards the valley and I found myself in an astonishing beautiful forest area again, following the stream and enjoying the nature and wild life around me before I eventually made it back towards civilization and just in time to the airport thanks to my Couchsurfing host in town. It’s a shame that I can’t find my notes to this hike anymore to provide more details, but maybe it is actually good that way to keep the text short 🙂 Overall, I had an amazing time in the mountains of Bariloche, even if they really can’t compete with the landscapes in southern Patagonia. But I think there are not many places on our planet that actually can…
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