In Search Of Snow

2nd Dec. 2016

What a viewThere is so much to see here that we are in a quandary over what to do today. The seven lakes sounds spectacular but ten hours on a bus, not so much. We could hire a car but that would still be a long day driving even though we could stop as we please. The option that won the day was taking a cable car up Cerro Catedral and then take about two hours to walk down.

Monument to San MartinWe also wanted some time in town to see the museum and shops. We walked the long way round into town past the monument to San Martin but, as ever, the light was all wrong although I think I just about got away with blocking the sun behind the monument. It also turned out that there was no access to the lake shore in that section, so, we headed to the Main Street for some shopping. We would like to buy some gifts but had no idea what to get. Bariloche has many chocolate shops but there is a chance that they would melt before we got them to the UK and then freeze on the train to Cambridge!! Also, we refuse to pay the inflated prices for anything that is remotely tourist fodder. Same problem as we had in Guatemala all those weeks ago.

Not really a fair fightNow for some culture, we headed to the Museo de la Patagonia and learn about the Conquest of the Desert, with the massacre of many indigenous people as the Spanish in the north of Argentina fought to take the land into state ownership. Looking at the weapons it was a bit one sided, guns against spears. Downstairs was less brain-achy with stuffed birds and animals of all the regions of Patagonia (including two huge condors).

The cable car upJust time for a quick bite of lunch before the 1:15pm bus to Catedral. We could have taken our time as there was a demonstration for better transport for the disabled which made slow progress down the Main Street with our bus stuck behind it. Still, we then made good time and arrived before 2pm to the deserted but typical ski resort town of Villa Catedral. The cable car was at the far end of town so we wandered past all the closed restaurants and ski shops, only to discover we needed to buy the tickets in the main square. Dave did the honourable thing and headed back in search of the illusive ticket office (he says the ticket office was almost back in Bariloche, playing for sympathy).

Chair lift to the topThe cars left about every fifteen minutes so we just made the next one after Dave’s adventure. The car fitted 25 people but there were only six of us. Not busy at all as the ski season is definitely over. At the end of the line we transferred to a double chair lift for the last stretch to the top. The patterns made by the clouds added to the view. In the bright sunshine there was only a small patch of compacted ice and the ever present mountain restaurant and bar (actually open) to give any indication of the altitude and the winter adventure playground for folks on skis. Up at Refugio Lynch we are at an altitude of 1,930m.

Reminder of what country we are inIt was a short walk over rocks to the flag pole, complete with Argentinian flag and amazing panoramic views of the lake, the peak of Piedra del Condor, Catedral town and beyond to Bariloche town. Even with my walking poles the longer walk back to the base of the cable car is less appealing now we know how far it is and the path does not look to be signposted at all. We decide on a compromise of walking down to the top of the cable car rather than the chair lift back.

My walking poles finally get another outingThe last cable car down was at 5pm so we still had time to walk over to Piedra del Condor and joke about still not having seen any real live condors. The view from there again was fantastic, we are getting to see the attraction of Bariloche. I admit I had been sceptical as I had not really enjoyed Chile’s equivalent, Pucon when we visited four years ago. As Dave says that is because my memory of there was that it rained all of the time (in reality it was only half the time!)

Typical ski resortI think we were the last to return down the mountain, along with various staff members in the 4:15pm cable car. The next bus to Bariloche was not until 5:15pm so we hoped for an ice cream while we waited but the only café open had sold out. Town is not as geared up for visitors in the summer as the hype would have you believe, but it is good to be able to wander around freely with few other people around. Also there was no problem in getting seats on the bus back down, which we were grateful for as it was standing room only by the time we reached the outskirts of town.

Finally captured the vivid sky at nightFor our last evening in town we decided to see the sunset first before eating to make sure we were not late again. Down on the shore of the lake it was popular with a few paddlers, dog walkers and people just sat enjoying the view. The sky was as we had hoped with a few clouds catching the colours of the fading sunlight. As ever we could have stayed here a few more days but Buenos Aires beckons tomorrow (and we are trying not to think beyond that!)


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