We have around three weeks to travel from Salta to El Calafate - the distances are so huge that we are thinking of missing out the Lakes District by flying from Mendoza to El Calafate to avoid 2 days in a bus to/from el bariloche (19 hours from Mendoza to Bariloche, then another overnight bus to El Calafate). Do you think we are missing out on something great here, or is the area around El Bariloche not as nice as Patagonia?
Thanks for your help!
Bariloche is a ski town. I haven't been to Mendoza, but from what I have read about it, so is it. I'm not sure that there will be much in Bariloche that you wouldn't see in Mendoza (with regards to mountains and hiking) or Patagonia (with hiking and scenery).
Bariloche has a nice lake and a very alpine mountain town feel. The architecture of their city hall is very Swiss - stone and wood. In the main square they have St. Bernard dogs to pet and take pictures with (for a fee). It's a cute town with some very nice restaurants.
Do you plan on a drive through the Andes into Chile at any point? It's really quite impressive.
Bariloche IS Patagonia. Geographically Patagonia starts hundreds of kilometres north, Neuquen and La Pampa province are part of Patagonia too.
So Bariloche (NOT: "El Bariloche", I´m sure you´re mixing up with El Bolson, about 120 km south) has what Patagonia has to offer. Very good hiking, mountains, lakes, glaciars and sufficient urban services to make it a comfortable base. Did I mention chocolate?
Bariloche is FAR more than a ski town. It has very good rafting, paragliding, rockclimbing, kitesurfing, diving, mountainbiking and so forth. The mountains around Bariloche are not that high as Mendoza, but there are forests. Also El Bolson has very nice trekking.
Until april you should have reasonable weather. Later it becomes wet, and from June on, snowy. Makes good weather for let´s say... chocolate...
Have fun planning
Thanks for your help - we had originally planned to go over to Chile but now I think time will restrict us from doing that. It sounds to me as though if we make sure we go to Mendoza and down the south of Patagonia, we won't be missing too much in the Lakes District. And by missing to much I don't mean it's not beatiful, just that we'll get the hiking, rafting etc in either Mendoza or Calafate, and without the 19 hour bus ride.
Anyone care to correct me? I'm looking at booking fairly soon.
My mate and I did tours in mendoza and Bariloche. mendoza is a wicked city that you can spend some quality time in, eat some AMAZING food, and drink quality wine.
In my opinion i would grin and bear the 19 hour bus ride which you take at night anyway, sleep on the ride, and emerge in Bariloche which is truely beautiful.. I think it is worth going here, living right on this amazing lake, the sights surrounding you are gobsmacking.
rent some bikes and ride the long lake roads, and go to the top of the ski slope, dry in the summer months and get some sweet photos.
The best thing i can say that mendoza does not have is the rafting, It is the best i did in the whole of South America, beating Peru in Cusco by miles. Imagine crystal clear blue water from the ice tipped andes mountains, cutting along this white water river...
Go to Bariloche, it is wicked.