I've wanted to see Bariloche, Argentina since a friend told me about the area. A usual stop off on the way to Patagonia, Bariloche is a lake town surrounded by mountains. The pictures looked stunning with snow-capped peaks rising from the water. I was lucky enough to be able to trade my timeshare into this area and I planned a full week of hiking, relaxing in the spa, and being surrounded by beauty. The only problem was that while I was planning my trip I couldn't seem to figure out how to get to Bariloche from Santiago. I could take an overnight 24 hour trip on a bus, but that didn't sound fun, or fly to Puerto Montt in the south of Chile and take a seven hour bus ride through the beautiful Andes. I chose the latter but there seemed to be no way to book the ticket in advance even though every site suggested to do so in high season.
So I flew to Puerto Montt with the hopes of a ticket. To my surprise there were at least four companies that did the trip, but everyone told me that I couldn't go until the next day, but because I didn't speak Spanish I had no idea why they wouldn't sell me a ticket. I finally found someone who spoke English and he explained that fires had closed the lower border crossing into Argentina and the only way to get to Bariloche was to go five hours north and try to catch a bus the next day from Pucon, Chile.
Now, I'm freaked. I have no reservation in Pucon, but I'm determined to get to Bariloche early the next day and enjoy my spa week so I took the chance.
The countryside of Chile is something everyone should experience. The beauty of the mountains and valleys punctuated with snow-capped volcanoes reach into bright blue skies. Pucon was a small lakeside community with a large volcano. The people in the town were so friendly and I found a nice hotel, had a wonderful meal of pasta and cream sauce with prawns, while sipping on wine. The only problem was that there weren't any buses going to Bariloche the next day - well actually there were but they were booked solid.
I ran around the town trying to figure out a way to get there, but no matter how many people tried to help me it seemed there wasn't a way to get to Bariloche the next day. I took the only bus across the border to San Martin, Argentina (another lakeside town), in hopes of finding another hotel for a night and then take the bus the following day to Bariloche.
On the bus, I met six great people all in the same boat as me (or I guess bus) - all trying to get to Bariloche.
We arrived in San Martin in the rain at six in the evening with most hotels and hostels booked solid. People were setting up camp in the small bus station for the night. Bariloche was only two hours away by car on a dirt road through a national park,
but it was Sunday night and everyone said renting a car was impossible. Well I don't believe in impossible. While everyone else bought bus tickets for the next morning, I went out into the rain in search of a hotel, but with the hopes I would find a car along I negotiated not only for a car, but for the owner to drive us to Bariloche. Once he agreed, I ran back to the bus station, had four of the people I met return their tickets, and convinced them to head to Bariloche.the way. That's when I came across a car rental company that had opened because the man needed to get something from his desk.
The five of us crammed into a truck and took one of the most scenic rides of our lives, while switching positions to find comfort. By ten pm I was at my hotel.