Sitting aboard my cozy LAN flight from Buenos Aires, I enjoyed some of Argentina’s famous chocolates, a nice cup of tea and anxiously awaited our arrival into Bariloche. With each turn of the engine my inner outdoorsman began to emerge and I could feel us approaching those beautiful Andes Mountains. When the wheels finally touched the runway I rushed out of the plane, eager to catch that first sight of the Andes and Lake Nahuel Huapi bordering Bariloche. One glance was inspiration enough to quickly get to a hostel, drop off my bags, and head out into the rugged outdoors.
My hostel recommendation turned out to be much better than convenient, comfortable, and clean as I had previously heard; it turned out to be nothing short of AMAZING! Hostel 1004 sits on the tenth floor of the highest building in Bariloche and is a tease to those eager to get outside. The views are incredible. My camera was out within seconds snapping away at the lake side views, and my nose was pressed up against the glass. (That was before I realized there was an outdoor balcony). The friendly staff must have noticed my kid in a candy store reaction and pointed me toward Cerro Campanario for the best views of the region.
From peak to peak within the Andes Mountains I’ve found that every lookout brings a new experience and a new memory; however there is one specifically that has captured notable attention from the masses. It doesn’t take an expert to realize the beauty of the views from the peak of Cerro Campanario, but if an expert opinion is what you want, how about this one? At one point National Geographic named Cerro Campanario one of the “Top 10 Views of the World.” After hearing about this wonder I packed a sandwich and headed out the door.
Cerro Campanario is 17 km outside of town, a little further that I felt like walking. But the immaculate bus system of Argentina once again came to my rescue, as did the conveniently placed bus stop at the base of the building in which Hostel 1004 sits. Buses numbered 10, 20, and 110 all travel down Avenida Ezequiel Bustillo, the only road heading west out of Bariloche en route to my destination, and in no time I had waved down a colectivo, and I was on my way. Av. Bustillo hugs the lakeside and provides beautiful scenery that served as foreshadowing to what lay ahead. 17 km later I buzzed the bell for my stop and stepped off the bus in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. However once the bus rolled on my attention was directed to the opposite side of the street where there was a sign posted at the base of the mountain.
To be able to appreciate this view I knew that I would first need to get to the top of the mountain. There are a few different paths to follow up that were relatively short climbs but a little steep. However, I decided to push my Easy Button and use the Aerosilla Cerro Campanario…aka chairlift. Ten pesos for a one way ticket to the top, or twenty pesos to get up and down. I enjoyed my relaxed climb to the top from the seat of my cozy chair, although I found myself struggling to keep myself faced forward as I continued to rise higher and higher. With each tree that passed below my feet, the views continued to get better and better until I finally reached the top.
A friendly man was there to greet me and escorted me off the appropriate side of the chair lift. The moment my feet hit the ground I rushed off to the nearest lookout point, reaching for my camera. Fantastic panoramas, fresh mountain air, and breathtaking scenery had me feeling as if I was in my own Oz. The mesmerizing mountains were surrounded in blue with the wide open sky up top and the huge lake waters of Nahuel Huapi and Perito Moreno down below. I could see for miles in any direction until my line of sight was stopped by another one of Mother Nature’s beautiful mountain peaks: Cerro Otto, Cerro Lopez, Cerro Goye, Cerro Catedral, and Cerro Capilla to name a few. I saw Hotel Llao Llao stretched across the Llao Llao Peninsula below, the enchanting Isla Victoria, and looking back to the east, I saw the town of Bariloche. It didn’t take long at all to understand exactly why Cerro Campanario has received so much attention.
After spending some time at each lookout, and once my high had worn off enough to allow me to sit, I made my way into the little café, the only man-made structure there. I found a table right next to a window, ordered a cup of tea, and sat back to soak it all in. It was a wonderful way to spend my first day in Bariloche.
I highly recommend this adventure to anyone that will be in the area. There’s good reason that National Geographic named this look-out spot one of the Top 10 Views of the World.”Any sight deserving that title can not accurately be described in words or pictures. It’s an all-consuming, must-be-there, see-for-yourself spectacle that you will be grateful you took the time to see.