We made our second attempt to enter Argentina by bus, which was a success! Woohoo! We traveled via Andesmar Chile from Valdivia to Bariloche, taking 8.5 hours including the border crossings. The bus tickets cost us $20,000 CLP each (approx. $44 NZD).We arrived in Bariloche without any reservations (in case we didn’t make it across the border, as Max’s passport still said he was in Argentina!), and stayed at the Mantra hostel. This cost $700 ARS for a double room and shared bathroom (approx. $63 NZD). The next morning we got up early to bus to Colonia Suiza. To take a bus, you need to purchase a SUBE card ($40 ARS = $3.50 NZD) and the buses cost anywhere between $12-19 ARS per person from central to Llao Llao. The buses were so full, we missed the first, but the Linea 20 comes every 20 minutes. It stops at KM18.3 and then you need to take Linea 10 to Colonia Suiza. This bus comes every hour. Although, it’s not always on time, and people weren’t as open to picking up hitchhikers as other blogs we read prior had advised.
We started our hike at 12.30pm after being delayed by the buses. We opted to go to Laguna Negra as Refugio Frey had fires and Cerro Lopez was a short day walk, and it seemed like a nice trek. It was 14 km to the top and was absolutely beautiful. We camped for free right by the lake, which had drinkable water. It was so clear, and the setting and rising sun made the lake look black (hence the name). The walk itself was a struggle with our big bags and took 5 hours with quite a few stops, a lunch break and a tantrum from me! The night was cold and windy, enjoying tuna and corn chips for dinner. The next morning we decided against the trek across to Cerro Lopez as this was 7 hours of treacherous walking in the wind, rain and steep loose rocks! This was a good decision as by 11am the rain was getting heavy. We reached Colonia Suiza after a 3 hour descent where we found a place with wifi and good food. We ordered a giant pizza $150 ARS, 2 empanadas $50 ARS and 1.25L of sprite $70 ARS (approx. $24 NZD in total).
We then tried to catch the linea 10 bus to our Airbnb accommodation at KM11.2 at 2.50pm but there was no bus until 6pm! So much for being ‘Suisse’ and being good at keeping time… We walked the way the bus came, which was a lot longer than the suggested route by google. We finally got picked up (hitchhiking) in the rain after 8 km of walking in the rain-not as romantic as it sounds. We made it to the house at 5.30pm. We stayed here for 3 nights, which cost us $700 ARS each night (approx. $63 NZD) and included breakfast. We took turns cooking and drunk some delicious Argentinian Malbec. On our third night in Bariloche, it snowed, so we were so thankful not to be camping in the mountains!
Our remaining time in Bariloche was spent eating amazing Italian food, walking around the town and watching our friends compete in a SUP race at the Llao Llao hotel (pronounced chow chow). It rained a lot and was a lot colder than we anticipated due to the snow. It did make for some beautiful pictures though!
We bused back to Osorno at 10am after 5 days in beautiful Bariloche, as there was no direct bus to Valdivia, which cost us $450 ARS each (approx. $40 NZD). The bus took 7 hours; a little longer than usual as the customs in Chile took a long time checking for illegal foods, and then we managed to find a bus to Valdivia for $3,600 CLP each (approx. $8 NZD). We finally arrived back in Valdivia at 7pm. We had forgotten how tiring being on a bus is!