Have you ever spent the whole winter in Iowa? Or another place that has endless days of snow, ice, wind and temperatures under zero degrees? We have. Many winters. We have since decided from now on we are going to go somewhere warm every winter, for a minimum of one week. Last winter, Aurelien and I spent January-April 2015 in Hawaii, Argentina and Chile. I know…we live a tough life ;). We spent two months with my parent’s on the Big Island. The bulk of our Argentina time was six weeks in Buenos Aires, an electric and exciting city. Check out our vegetarian food guide to see all the delicious restaurants we enjoyed. We then ended our trip with two weeks in Chile, mostly Santiago. More on that later!
On our way to Chile, we headed down south from Buenos Aires to the mountain town of Bariloche. Bariloche is a ski town in the winter, and a beautiful place for hiking, biking and boating in the summer. Remember, since we were in the Southern Hemisphere, summer is just ending in March. We only stayed for two nights due to the higher costs of lodging, but we did manage to go on a super fun afternoon of biking around the Circuito Chico just outside Bariloche.. The views were absolutely incredible and breath-taking. I felt like I was on cloud 9 as we soared through the trees and would catch a glimpse of a looming mountain or pristine lake. Below are our photos and all the practical information you’ll need to replicate the trip.
Google Map of the area with key points highlighted
Taking the Bus to the bike rental
For some reason, getting a bus card isn’t the easiest thing in Bariloche. To purchase a pass you need to go to the local bus center. You can share a pass, so you only need to buy one and just put enough money for the amount of people who are splitting the pass. You can add the fare onto the pass at the center. To get to the bike shop and back it was 150 pesos per person (March 2015). The bus stop is downtown and you can grab the # 20 bus to get to the bike shop. The tourist office in downtown Bariloche can show you on the map where the stop is. When you get on the bus tell them you are going to 18 KM. As you ride along, enjoy the view, and pay attention to the KM markers. When you near a round-about at 18km, ring the bell and hop off. The bike shop is right across the street!
Circuito Chico Bike Rental, the bike rental place we used is set up for helping tourists go on the Circuito Chico loop. They give you all the information you need, where to go, what parts of the route have big hills, places to stop and lookout points. The bikes were in good condition and you also get a helmet, a bike pump and a bike lock. We felt completely taken care of and relaxed about the whole process. One tip, call them ahead of time to reserve a bike, so you can be sure they will have some when you arrive.
The entire loop is around 30km. The loop is full of hills and descents as you ride through the forest, over bridges, and along a gorgeous lake with mountains in the background. You are biking on the road, but there were very few cars for the main part of the loop. It was not a simple “stroll in the park” there are some bigger hills, but just put your bike in the lowest gear and pedal, pedal and pedal! I felt quite spent at the end of the loop, but was happy I did it.
Aurelien was fine and would have finished the loop in half the time, but he was sweet and stuck by my side (most of the time). At the bike shop they said the loop takes 4-5 hours including stops and excursions, we did it in 3 hours 15 minutes. There is an option at km 23 to leave the bike at the gas station with them (the guy was there when we drove by) and just take the bus. The last 7.5 KMs had heavier traffic and was not as beautiful, so next time I would take the bus, but I had to do the entire loop to say I did! 😉
After the bus ride home and a shower, we got to sit on our hostel’s deck and witness the sun set behind the lake. Stunning!
This hostel, the Hostel Inn Bariloche, is one of the cheapest places to stay in the area, and is worth staying at simply for their deck and this view. Unless you are going at peak season, we recommend waiting until close to last-minute to book your rooms, as they will discount if not full.
As an example, right now you can book a dormitory room for $8-10 and a double bed room for $20-22 a week out, whereas they cost $20 and $40-50 if you wanted to book out 4-6 months.