April 17-26: Bariloche, San Martin, and back to Chile

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It’s been a while since I’ve last posted. The cold has since kicked in, and Harry and I have been staying in hostels and hosterias. I also got myself the heaviest down jacket I’ve ever owned, thanks to a Patagonia sale event in Osorno, Chile.

 

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He clearly doesn’t mind his temporary admission to human quarters!

 

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On April 18 we left Chile, crossing into Argentina via the Samore checkpoint in the Andes.

 

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The border region between Argentina and Chile is famous for its lakes, but the weather forced us to keep driving.

 

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Welsh immigrants established a tea house culture in the area, offering opportunities to warm up right by the water.

 

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The sun came out occasionally. Bariloche reminded me of Geneva; although not even half the size of her Swiss counterpart, the city boasts a similar tradition of chocolatiers, amazing views of nearby mountains, and the same capricious weather.

 

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This scene could easily also be near Lac Leman, right?

 

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Huemul Island, the site of Argentina’s first attempt to develop nuclear energy in the 1950s, is visible at the far left. The project–run by a German con man with support from Peron–failed completely.

 

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Thanks to Bernabe and his cousin Tuti, Harry and I got an entire house to ourselves! We stayed here for two nights before moving into a small pension out of town run by a Slovenian couple.

 

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At Pulperia Salamandra I made an exception from my vegetarian rule, and it was well worth it: I had the best steak of my life.

 

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Harry and I went for walks in the temperate rain forests whenever it wasn’t raining too hard.

 

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Turns out he loves chewing on dry bamboo!

 

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Even though the temperatures remained frigid, his genes demanded that he test the waters.

 

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I was worried that he might catch a cold — but so far, so good.

 

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Of course we also had to pay a visit to the famous Llao Llao hotel 25km west of Bariloche. It was here where the idea to drive from Alaska to Patagonia took shape in 2009.

 

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Aside from its chocolate manufacturers, Bariloche is also known for its local breweries. Above: Blest microbrewery, next door from Berlina (which I actually liked better).

 

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On April 25 we had successfully sat out the bad weather, got up early, and left Hosteria Katy after breakfast.

 

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We waved Bariloche good-bye…

 

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… and headed north toward San Martin de los Andes.

 

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We opted for a detour via Villa Traful since the day was gorgeous.

 

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This part of Argentina is without doubt among its finest, and I promised myself to return again during the southern summer and with more time for hikes.

 

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Villa Traful is located on the shore of a crystal-clear lake with the same name.

 

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The scenery reminded of our visit to Crater Lake in Oregon.

 

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Near San Martin, Harry just couldn’t resist anymore. I gave him a hearty rub afterwards.

 

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Much smaller than Bariloche and without the latter’s architectural sins (i.e., multi-story concrete buildings next to old wooden homes), San Martin is among the most romantic urban getaways I’ve come across on this trip…

 

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… and it is also home to one of Argentina’s few Vizsla breeders. Harry and Huesos (“Bones”) got along fabulously…

 

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… despite Huesos being ten years younger than 11 year-old Harry.

 

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I watched the dogs play while enjoying yet another local beer brand.

 

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On April 26 we drove back across the border to Chile. Unfortunately an overzealous Chilean customs official made us throw away Harry’s dry food even though I was able to show that I had, in fact, bought it in Chile a week prior. US$40 wasted — and my general opinion of Chilean mentality (inflexible, donnish, drab) took another hit.

 

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The landscape to the east between Osorno and Puerto Varas is dominated by massive volcanoes, all currently covered by snow.

 

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Arguably the most iconic among them, Volcan Osorno is visible from 80km away.

 

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We briefly stopped in Puerto Montt, the southernmost city on the Chilean mainland…

 

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… where I sampled salmon ceviche right off the boat.

 

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It was already dark when we took the ferry from Pargua to Chiloe Island.

 

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In Ancud on Chiloe we found a Swiss-owned hostel where we stayed for the night. We are now so far south that the sun only rises around 8:30AM.

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