Before you view these photos of Danny and I in the beautiful outdoors near Bariloche, Argentina and get that dreamy look on your face, let me share with you a secret that took me several months to learn on my own. Traveling for long periods of time, especially in the wilderness of foreign lands, may be romanticized in literature such as Lonely Planet and National Geographic. One truth seems to be missing from these tales of exotic peoples, tasty foods, and gorgeous landscapes: no matter how much your surroundings change, the person you are inside generally remains the same.
So, if you’re like me, and you already have strong opinions and preferences about, well, pretty much everything, traveling can be frustrating. I have to constantly remind myself to keep an open mind. It was nice taking a break from that effort in Bariloche, Argentina. It was the first place I found that reminded me of all of my favorite things from home: a large variety of local fruits and vegetables, super friendly people and a strong outdoor community, sunny weather, and endless opportunities to play in the wilderness. We stayed twice as long as we had originally planned, and even started dreaming of returning in winter.
Danny and I spent more than two weeks sampling various wilderness opportunities while using a hostel in Bariloche as our base. We did four camping trips and pitched our tent in a variety of places such as on top of Mt. Tronador, next to an aquamarine glacier lake, in a crowded lawn with lots of vacationing Argentinian families, and stealthily in a bamboo forest. We found the perfect combination of comforts from home and the diversity of a foreign culture.
Nahuel Huapi National Park beckoned us from the tenth floor balcony of our hostel in Bariloche.
Our camp near Refugio Frey in Nahuel Huapi National Park. There are many refugios (refuge or shelter) throughout the park, which typically sell hot meals and offer basic sleeping accommodations.
Much of the higher altitude trekking was on loose dirt and scree, like this part of the trail on the backside of Cerro Catedral.
Early summer hiking in the Argentine side of Patagonia was ideal. The weather was perfect every day, the flowers were blooming, the peaks looked dramatic, frosted with snow, and the trails were clear and dry.
Every day was filled with challenging hiking, marvelous views, and superb camp sites, like along this lake in Nahuel Huapi National Park.
This particular section of the trail was exciting, but wasn’t as dangerous as it appears.
Relying on public transportation occasionally left us stranded. We had to stealth camp in a bamboo forest near Lago Moreno in Llao Llao Park.
Kristin explored the rocks along Brazo Tristeza, with Cerro Capilla in the background.
Bariloche is home to a strong mountaineering community with a long history and, naturally, some lost lives. This hand-carved memorial was in the “Mountaineers Cemetery,” which is remotely located in a thicket of trees at the edge of the Llao Llao Park.
The most money we paid to camp in Argentina was at this private campground near Lago Gutierrez. The only spot available was next to this cement wall. However, we did receive wi-fi in our tent.
This trail among sharp volcanic rock led us to the high camp on the stratovolcano Mt. Tronador, which translates to “thunderer.”
Mt. Tronador, at 3,491 meters (11,453 feet) tall, is 1,000 meters higher than any of the surrounding mountains.
Refugio Otto Meiling was named after the German-born mountaineer who built a number of huts in the area, including this one on Mt. Tronador. Otto was instrumental in bringing skiing and mountaineering to Argentina and was co-founder of the Club Andino de Bariloche.
We camped on this ridge, surrounded by two of Tronador’s eight glaciers.
This was the most spectacular sunset that we witnessed in ten months of backpacking in Latin America.