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Its official name is San Carlos de Bariloche – but everyone simply calls it Bariloche. This unique town in northwestern Patagonia, sitting in the Argentine province of Rio Negro, enchants thousands of tourists every year. Its landscapes are as varied as they are unforgettable. It is built right on the edge of the Nahuel Huapi Lake, a 530 km2 body of water of glacial origin, and at the foot of the American Andes range. Also well-known as part of Argentina’s Lake District, its location is simply superb!
We spoke with local IFMGA-certified guide Jorge Kozulj about the best activities to do in this unique corner of Patagonia. Born in 1975, Jorge has been obsessed with the mountains since the age of 9 – “All I wanted to do was to go skiing, I couldn’t concentrate on studying or going to college [later]”. Bariloche is his home: “Growing up here is the best thing that could ever happen to me”, he says without a doubt. The mountains have been his workplace for over 20 years now. What he loves the most about his job is “showing my clients places they would never visit alone and show them that they can do more of what they think”.
Jorge is an experienced mountain guide, and one of the very first to be IFMGA-certified in Argentina in 2005. Apart from Bariloche, he also leads amazing ski touring programs in Antarctica, Norway, Iceland, the Alps and the Chilean volcanoes. Some of his best professional memories include expeditions to the remoteness of Alaska – such as The Wrangell and St Elias ranges -, and heliski guiding in Kamchatka in early 2018.
He has also participated in TV and film production projects for the Canadian channel Evasion, Sherpas Cinema for ALL.I.CAN in the Chile segment and and Salomon Freeski TV.
Year after year, Jorge receives clients from all over the world. What amazes them the most about Bariloche is “how our culture celebrates friendship”. Bariloche is also easily accessible. Its modern local airport is only 20 minutes from the town center, where you will find its typical chocolate factories and tea houses. Its mountaineering attractions are also much less populated than classic European sites.
Whether it is summer or winter, autumn or spring, Bariloche is always open. Have a look at these recommendations by a true local, and head south next season!
Mountaineering in Bariloche is a rewarding experience! It is home to a true Patagonian classic, Mount Tronador. This 1-day program takes you to the top of the highest peak (3,554 m / 11,660 ft) in the area. There are several routes to the summit, most of them starting at the Otto Meiling hut (2,000 m / 6,560 ft). This is a fascinating group activity (maximum 2 mountaineers) during the summer.
If you’d like to savor the experience even more, you can go for the 3-day Mount Tronador climbing tour starting on horse to the border with Chile. This itinerary will take you off the beaten route, via the Vivac hut (1,500 m / 4,920 ft), also known as Tronador refuge or simply the ‘old refuge’, near the Manso Glacier.
For a full alpine experience in North Patagonia, you can also go on a combined program, climbing perfect golden granite and doing some classic mountaineering glacier ascents like this 7-day Tronador and Frey alpine trip.
Finally, you have the option of adding Chile to your Patagonia trip, with a mountaineering program along both sides of the Andes.
Bariloche, as Jorge describes, is the “iconic ski location in South America”. From mid-August to late October, you can ascend to the local favorite Frey Hut (1,300 m / 5577 ft) with this 3-day ski touring program, starting from the famous Cerro Catedral Ski Resort. You can enjoy wonderful open bowls and slopes, and outstanding views of the nearby valleys. Plus, spending the night at Frey hut is a great experience in itself, with tasty wine and beer and delicious home-made meals.
If you are looking for a more intense, longer program, take the full Bariloche 9-day guided ski touring trip. Available from July to November, this is a great tour across an area that attracts experienced skiers from all over the world every year.
Tempted to cross to Chile as well? Have a look at these skiing options that take you to both sides of the Chilean-Argentine border, marked by the magnificent Andes.
Any time between January to May (summer and beginning of autumn), and September to December (spring and first stages of the summer), is a great time to go rock climbing around Bariloche. This is one of the best rock climbing areas in South America. And the walls here make for a great warm up before taking up bigger climbing challenges in Patagonia.
Most of the rock climbing locations near Bariloche are within 30 minutes of the city center. You can choose between day trips or multi-day trips. One of the best spots is Valle Encantado. Piedras Blancas (‘White Rocks’) is another great option, which also features amazing views of the Nahuel Huapi Lake.
Other great rock climbing locations? Cerro Ventana and Cerro López.
Have a look at different rock climbing tours in Bariloche on this link. Most options are open to every skill level too.
You can also have a look at this 3-day Frey climbing tour, which includes visits to the different spires around Frey hut, such as the multi-pitch routes Campanile, La Vieja, and Cohete Lunar.
If your wanderlust is running wild after reading this blog post and you hear Patagonia calling your name, now is the time! Beautiful Bariloche awaits.
Thank you Jorge Kozulj for sharing all your experience with us!
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