Since coming to Argentina, the one place I wanted to visit more than anywhere else was Patagonia. This is mostly because of the U.S. clothing company of the same name that sells incredibly comfortable and warm sweatshirts. I just had to see what the place was actually like.
But where in Patagonia would I go? It covers the entire southern half of Argentina and stretches into Chile. Options include El Calafate, a small town in the very south that has penguins and amazing glaciers like I have never seen before, or Torres de Paine, which is close to Chile and deep into the lower mountains.
Finally, after so many recommendations from fellow Argentines, I decided to go to San Carlos de Bariloche. While there are no penguins, which I wish I could see, there are amazing hikes and views of the Andes Mountains.
Bariloche is a small town of 3,000 people. With only three gates, the airport is smaller than Hector International Airport in Fargo. The architecture is also very Scandinavian influenced. What a town to feel like home in. Without making plans with friends, I traveled to the northern part of Patagonia in the province of Rio Negro with the intention to search for adventure myself.
I met several travelers in my hostel. Many were from France, some were from Brazil and one girl, who went trekking with me, was from London. There are so many great places to visit and hikes to do in Bariloche with 360-degree views of the Nahuel Haupi Lake.
Originally inhabited by the indigenous Nahuel Haupi people, Victoria Island in the middle of the lake is the center of the national park. Back in Fargo, the land is flat as can be, so the climate took an adjustment and walking on steep inclines for over an hour was not so easy.
Popular hikes include: Cerro López, Cerro Campesino, Refugio Frey, Cerro Llao Llao and Cerro Catedral, which is well known in the winter for skiing. There are several more hikes to look into as well as a bike tour of 27 kilometers around the Seven Lakes. Days could be spent hiking each one.
Imagine enjoying your time at the top of the mountain with the best-packed lunches of your life and drinking some Mate, the Argentine national drink that should be incorporated into your daily life.
In town, the center is 10 blocks long with the best chocolate and ice cream shops in the entire country. Back in Buenos Aires, people are constantly talking about the Bariloche chocolates. The tourist life of the town exists within these 10 blocks.
I knew going to Bariloche was completely worth it. Who needs penguins when the most incredible view is staring back at you on the summit of a difficult hike? The reward is so much greater when you have to work for it.