Day Trippin’ in El Bolson, Argentina

1 Comment Print

El Bolson, Argentina If you ask any Argentinean about El Bolson they will more than likely use the term ‘hippie-town’ to describe it. True, there is a vaguely seventies feel about this quiet valley town, but more than that it is an ideal location for the laid-back independent traveler. A scenic two-hour drive from Bariloche, El Bolson is a sleepy town at the base of the Lake District known for its thrice-weekly crafts fair and pristine location. Intrepid and outdoorsy visitors to the area should consider spending a day, or a week, enjoying a different style of Argentinean life.

The town is spread out in a valley blessed with rivers, lakes and forests ideal for hiking and day trips. Lupines in purples, pinks and white cover the meadows and bursts of yellow flowering bushes make a spring time visit to El Bolson a colorful must do. Fishing is immensely popular, thanks to the abundant trout population that thrives in the areas lakes and rivers. Equipment can be rented for a mellow day lakeside with some friends and some beers.

Or you can hire a boat with all the fixings, and do some serious fishing for a bargain rate. Several Refugios surround the town, stashed away in the mountains, and trekkers can find less beaten paths to explore for days. Refugio Piltriquitron, on Cerro Piltriquitron east of the town, has home-made beers and is near to good hikes and interesting forests. Another popular expedition has you hiking through the narrow Cajon de Azul, to the Refugio de Atilio, where you can sleep or just relax before hiking back to town. Both require a short taxi or bus ride to get to the starting point.

Most of the lodgings are outside of the town center, and are small, quaint and peaceful. If you have a group you could consider renting a private cabin for your stay, usually in a locals backyard. Accommodation is simple and backpackers few, especially compared to Bariloche and other Lake District destinations. It’s a nice break from the daily meet and greet at city hostels thronged with international tourists. Restaurants with the usual pizzas, pastas and parillas are easily found downtown, or try one of the restaurants boasting Patagonian dishes. Heladeria Jauja serves up mountains of ice cream in a wide variety of flavors, and a waffle cone sundae complete with fresh strawberries can do the trick on a hot dry afternoon.

The crafts fair is the main town attraction, and is a cute event to give you a taste of El Bolson culture. If you are traveling to the town on a crafts fair day (Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday) you may want to book your bus ticket in advance since it is a popular event in the region and seats are often booked. Surrounding the central plaza, one block from the bus stop, the fair boasts over 300 artisans, selling jewelry, crafts, clothes, mate gourds, and various nick-knacks of un-definable purpose. A certain highlight of the fair is the scrumptious Belgian waffles, made fresh and served with home made strawberry and raspberry preserves and fresh whip cream. On the other end are the locally crafted artisenal beers, also taking various berry flavors. Grab a waffle, a brew, or both and take a rest in the park, where you’re entertained by dusty local kids playing in the dried out pond, or wandering performs practicing their juggling and acrobatics.

As the day begins to fade take a nice stroll up to the panoramic viewpoint (inquire at tourist information booth for directions) and enjoy the long sunset in peace and quiet. A short walk to the outskirts of town, and you can find a boulder or grassy spot on the wooded hillside to watch the sun fall behind the Andean peaks surrounding you. A golden haze covers the valley and it is easy to understand why this became a haven for ‘back-to-the-land’ types in the 1970s. Argentina’s first ‘nuclear-free zone,’ El Bolson has been attracting liberal minded, artistic types for years. Whether your into tie-dye or not, El Bolson, Argentina is an interesting and peaceful stop with a groovy vibe and some beautiful scenery and outdoor activities.

One Comment

International Artisan Fair on November 27, 08

[…] 600 artisans from Argentina and the world will gather from December 5- 14th to share their wares, talent and […]

What Do You Think?