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Bariloche – Argentina’s Switzerland

Posted by on April 7, 2012

It is as if a tornado ripped up a city in Switzerland and dumped it in Argentina. Everything from the architecture and Saint Bernards to the chocolate is present. The city is intricately built between a mountain range and lake as you will see below. There were a wide range of activities and excursions which could have been done but with only 2 full days available here, had to pick and choose from all the options (views from Mt. Otto and entering into the Guinness World Record books being some of them). I will briefly mention some of the other options just so you know what Bariloche has to offer at the end of this post but for now, on to Bariloche!

Views from Cerro Otto

Our first stop was Cerro Otto (Mt. Otto) which was recommended for panoramic views of the city. A “remise” (hire taxi) dropped 6 of us off there (40 pesos from our campsite which was about 7km away). We could have hiked / cycled up the mountain to the top but chose to take the cable car. A return ticket cost 85 pesos. Quaint little red cable cars which wouldn’t hold more than 4 people zipped us up there quite quickly. We had initially planned on going to the top and then renting mountain bikes to ride back down (we were told we could do this by a tourist agent) but this was not available. It was on Cerro Cathedral so perhaps she got confused. No matter.

View of Bariloche

What greeted us once we arrived at the top was stunning views of the lake, city and surrounding landscapes. After about 30 minutes of walking around, taking pictures and appreciating the sights, we headed into the restaurant at the top for a little lunch. It was one of those rotating restaurants providing you with 360 degree views which was great. I enjoyed some goulash and spatzle while watching paragliders and Condors hovering in the sky. After lunch we jumped back on the cable cars for the ride down and met our taxi at the bottom which then took us into town.

Chocolate and the Guinness World Record

It’s not everyday you get to witness a successful attempt at entering into the Guinness World Record. It was blind luck that we happened to be in Bariloche as they worked at creating the worlds longest chocolate bar or slab to be more correct (Wednesday the 4th of April, 2012). They started construction of the 100 meter (yes, 100 meters or the length of a football field if you prefer) long table down the center of “chocolate avenue” around 2pm. The plan was to have the chocolate done by 9pm but they worked hard and finished an hour early. There were about 15 chocolateers carrying buckets of liquid chocolate from a chocolate cafe into the street to pour on the table (the chocolate hardened in minutes thanks to the cold). White chocolate, dark chocolate and peanuts all went into it. Around 8pm once it had been completed, the Guinness guys walked about inspecting and measuring it and declared it a winner. Big celebrations followed as the chocolate was cut up and handed out to the spectators or which I managed to grab a piece. As to be expected, since the chocolate was free, everyone seemed to morph into animal form.

Fondue and Tango

One would assume that I would have seen a tango show by now since we have been in Argentina for near a month now but alas they have eluded me until now. After eating our Guinness World Record breaking chocolate, it was time to find a good place to eat. After checking out a dozen or so decent looking restaurants, a banner outside one caught our eye. Tango Show Tonight! We were sold. We headed inside and was told that the show would start at 10 (one hour from our entrance) so we took our seats upstairs and worked through the menu. I decided that since I have never had a Fondue in a restaurant before (only at home and of the oil variety) I would go for the meat with meat broth fondue which was shared with Simona. In all honesty, it wasn’t worth the splurge. Simona who is from Switzerland rated it a 5 out of 10 compared to the fondues back home. Enjoyable regardless.

On typical Argentinian time, the tango show started at 11. Two dancers who performed 5 dances and then offered the audience some lessons. It was a great experience (even though the “Strictly Come Dancing” dancers would out-dance these two any day). At one point the dancers snaked their way between the tables keeping up the tango which was an impressive feat as there was hardly enough space to move between them normally. Since we are almost at the end of our time in Argentina, I’m glad I got the Tango show experience.

Other Optional Excursions

There were a bunch of other activities to keep you occupied while in Bariloche. Since most of Bariloche is made of chocolate, there is the chocolate factory tour. After that, why not have a brewery tour and visit a museum or two. There are hiking trails, mountain biking, white-water rafting, skiing and other winter-based sports (in winter obviously) and water-based sports such as sailing or water skiing. If you are an outdoors-man or a chocoholic, Bariloche will definitely have you satisfied.

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