Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District: Global Test Photo Essay

Months of travel can wear on people, even as they enjoy the "other" of another country. We found the perfect combination of comforts from home and the diversity of a foreign culture in Bariloche, Argentina.

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by Kristin Tennessen and Danny Milks | 2011-03-29 00:00:00-06

Editor's Note: click here to see all the articles (and a brief synopsis of each) in this excellent series.

Introduction

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.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 1
Nahuel Huapi National Park beckoned us from the tenth floor balcony of our hostel in Bariloche.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 2
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.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 3
Much of the higher altitude trekking was on loose dirt and scree, like this part of the trail on the backside of Cerro Catedral.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 4
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.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 5
Every day was filled with challenging hiking, marvelous views, and superb camp sites, like along this lake in Nahuel Huapi National Park.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 6
This particular section of the trail was exciting, but wasn’t as dangerous as it appears.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 7
Relying on public transportation occasionally left us stranded. We had to stealth camp in a bamboo forest near Lago Moreno in Llao Llao Park.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 8
Kristin explored the rocks along Brazo Tristeza, with Cerro Capilla in the background.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 9
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 Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 10
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.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 11
This trail among sharp volcanic rock led us to the high camp on the stratovolcano Mt. Tronador, which translates to “thunderer.”

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 12
Mt. Tronador, at 3,491 meters (11,453 feet) tall, is 1,000 meters higher than any of the surrounding mountains.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 13
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.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 14
We camped on this ridge, surrounded by two of Tronador’s eight glaciers.

The Global Test:  A Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District - 15
This was the most spectacular sunset that we witnessed in ten months of backpacking in Latin America.


Citation

"Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District: Global Test Photo Essay," by Kristin Tennessen and Danny Milks. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/global_test_argentina_lake_district.html, 2011-03-29 00:00:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District: Global Test Photo Essay


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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District: Global Test Photo Essay on 03/29/2011 12:12:04 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Home Away From Home In Argentina's Lake District: Global Test Photo Essay

Edited by addiebedford on 03/29/2011 12:13:43 MDT.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District: Global Test Photo Essay on 03/29/2011 19:04:10 MDT Print View

Fantastic! I love it. It is great to see pictures from an area that isn't as famous, but just as spectacular (in its own way) as some of the places near by. Thanks.

Scott Truong
(elf773)

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District on 03/29/2011 21:00:00 MDT Print View

Very cool. When were you guys there, before or after Patagonia? How did you get to or from Bariloche, bus or air?

Thanks for trip reports.

Gabe Joyes
(gabe_joyes) - F

Locale: Lander, WY
neato on 03/30/2011 08:31:13 MDT Print View

Great stuff again, thanks for sharing.

Philip Delvoie
(PhilipD) - MLife

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Home Away From Home In Argentina’s Lake District: Global Test Photo Essay on 03/30/2011 09:01:03 MDT Print View

Wow...great pictures. Looks like another great trip Kristin and Danny. Thanks.

Danny Milks
(dannymilks) - MLife

Locale: Sierras
Bariloche - Patagonia on 03/30/2011 14:32:43 MDT Print View

Scott -

We went to Bariloche in January 2010, after we had already trekked in Tierra del Fuego, Torres del Paine, and Los Glaciares (Fitz Roy).

Bariloche is generally considered to be at the northern end of Patagonia. The weather in Bariloche was fantastic - sunny days, cool nights, dry air, and strong winds were rare.

We traveled to Bariloche by bus. It'along overnight trip from Mendoza or Buenos Aires.

Brendan Mulholland
(dools009) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
thanks on 03/31/2011 06:03:07 MDT Print View

thanks the photos guys. can't beat the view from Hostel 1004.

A HEADS UP FOR THOSE PLANNING TRIPS THROUGH ARG AND CHILE - wild camping anywhere in both Arg. and Chile is legal as long as you aren't directly in sight/in the way other people. I know that is very vague, but that comes straight from the mouthes of several police officers in both arg and chile. They basically said that if you are in the way and someone complains, it is possible that the police will ask you to leave. We frequently slept off the road in the woods, by a lake waiting for ferries, on beaches etc w/o a single problem over 2 years.

If you have spent much time down there you know that rules are much more flexibile (as well as exploitable by the police) in S. America. So take that with a grain of salt. Just b/c the police have stated that it is legal doesn't mean that you won't be hit up for money by enterprising policemen saying that you have broken the law (and if they say you did, you did) or asked to move from places that aren't in anyones direct view/way.

From Bariloche on South through both Chile and Argentina (basically all of what is considered Patagonia) the area is very safe, the people generally friendly and the popluation density almost 0. Its an ideal place to camp out.

cheers,
Brendan

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
beautiful on 03/31/2011 06:06:18 MDT Print View

What beatiful pictures! Some of them should make it in Henry Shires photogallery...
Thanks for sharing and showing us a bit of the world.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Very nice on 04/03/2011 23:30:49 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing again.