Bariloche to El Bolson

Sunday 15th November 2015

I didn`t really sleep that well last night. I kept thinking about what had happened in France and besides that I was in a 6-people dorm where at 2am none of the others were sleeping yet. Great.

In the morning I read this blog article about El Bolson which made me want to go there!
We discussed the idea with Annina and Claudio and they both had read great stuff about this place too and were keen on going there rather than spending more nights in Bariloche. Chatting to Amanda and Yann we had met the evening before while cooking in the kitchen, they were also going and told us there was a bus at 11am. They had emailed a place called “La Casona de Odile” which the blog article I had read in the morning also referred to. That place had not replied back yet but we decided we would also try out to get there. It looked like a legendary hostel worth going to!

After breakfast we packed our bags and checked out around 10am. With Annina, we went to the bank to withdraw 1,000 pesos each. Always good to have extra cash in Patagonia, especially when you know that you can only withdraw 1,000 pesos per withdrawal, sometimes even per day, and that withdrawing doesn`t always work! Then we grabbed our bags and walked a bit and entered a kiosk to buy a bus card on which we would top up for El Bolson but then the woman explained that we didn`t need that card unless we were taking a local city bus to the Terminal as the card was for Bariloche city transport, not for a bus going from Bariloche to El Bolson. So then we jumped in a taxi and within about 6 minutes we were at the bus terminal.

We met Amanda and Yann there. Yann joked to me in French: “It is full, there are no bus tickets anymore!”  I believed him for a few seconds. Ahah. Then I translated the joke in English to Annina and Claudio.  They also believed me for a few seconds. So fun when you get tricked and can immediately trick others with the same joke. Even when it is not 1st April (my favourite day of the year 🙂 )

We bought some tickets with Viva Bariloche for the 11am bus to El Bolson.
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That map of so many routes makes me wanna go on all of them and stop everywhere! 🙂
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We waited with Amanda and Yann. The bus was a bit late but we finally boarded and shoot off around 11.45am.

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Here is a map of where we had been just before and were and were going.

san martin to bariloche to el bolson

Zooming out. You can see on this map Pucon in Chile from where we had crossed to San Martin de los Andes. After San Martin de los Andes, Bariloche and El Bolson, I would then go to Puerto Varas, near Puerto Montt and then cross to Chiloe island to Ancud, Castro and Quellon from where I would take a boat to Chaiten and then go by bus to Futaleufu, go through the Welsh city of Trevelin and arrive in Esquel before to head further south. But on that day I didn’t know most of that yet as I do not plan where I go the next day and apart from having the vague idea of going to Chiloe I wasn’t sure from where I would cross by boat to where yet! The beauty of travelling without any plan apart from the simple rough idea of continuing going south!

Zooming out to locate where this was on the scale of South America.

san martin to bariloche to el bolson zoom out out

The landscape during the bus ride to El Bolson was really stunning. First we saw the lake to the right and the mountains in the background.
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During the rest of the bus ride, it was a constant hide-and-seek game with the snow peaks. They were some north, east, south, they kept appearing and disappearing, appearing and disappearing, behind rocks, trees, or
because of the curves.  It was funny and what an incredible landscape!
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We passed the village of El Foyel where a horse ride competition was going on. Those guys are born on horses. It could be awesome to see that! But the bus continued for quite a while after that village. That`s where renting a car and going around with it can give you way more freedom to stop when cool unexpected things just turns up in your day! I feel like I would like to come back to Patagonia one day and buy a van and spend maybe 6 months just in Patagonia touring around! This place is just so beautiful.
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We finally arrived around 1.30pm in El Bolson.
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Amanda went to the tourist office to ask if they could call La Casona de Odile for her. She talked to Javier, one of the guy working at the hostel who told her the hostel had 2 beds in a dorm for Yann and her but not for us that evening but we could all come there and he would call some hostels nearby so we could be quite close. That sounded good so we decided to do that.

We walked almost all the village main road to get to the supermarket to buy food so we could do an “asado” (barbecue) in the evening.  There were lots of old cars in the street.
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In the supermarket, one of the tomato had a massive slug on it. Sure it was organic ones!
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I asked Amanda about this veggie called zapallo anco. She told me it was a small zucchini.
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When we finished shopping, we couldn’t see any taxi in the street so we asked the supermarket if they could call two for us as we were 5 with our big bags and within 5 minutes the taxis came. Us waiting in front of the supermarket.
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Driving towards Casona de Odile on a gravel road.
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They drove us to La Casona de Odile.  At La Casona de Odile, Amanda and Yann ran into an Irish girl they had met earlier before in their travels in the Colca Canyon. So funny we always bump into other travellers again later on. The hostel was doing a dinner for everyone in the evening so we all decided to sign up and keep the food we had bought for the next day. Javier called the nearby hostel called El Pueblito and explained us how to get there by walk. He said it was about 300-500 meters away so we thought it would be a short walk. Before to shoot off, Yann had digged out some cool books found on the shelf there like this guide du routard from 1981.
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We shoot off and walked for probably half-an-hour actually, on the main road as we didn`t want to get lost with big bags on our back in a shortcut we
didn`t know.
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We arrived at El Pueblito.
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It was already 4pm and we were pretty hungry. The first thing we did was to cook some lunch with fresh pasta and creme fraiche sauce we had bought in the supermarket. After lunch, we just chilled out for a few hours. Paulina, Cassandra and Osario who were working there showed us the veggie garden they were taking care of every day  from which they were eating salads, raddish and other veggies.
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7.50pm came really quicky and we grabbed head torches and headed again to La Casona de Odile, this time through the short-cut along the river.
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We were there within 10 minutes and went for a walk in the garden to the river.
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They had a slackline setup 60cm above the ground between two trees on which we could try to stand and walk and practice balance so we spent a bit of time playing there. There were 3 Americans from San Diego who came chatting with us, a woman with her husband and brother. They were friends of the parents of the girl who owned the place. The woman told me that what had happened in France was really terrible and that they were really sorry about it. We chatted a little bit about it. Then headed back inside to have dinner. It was a pretty cool evening, chatting to various people and the marinated chicken they had cooked was really delicious. We headed back later to our hostel.

Tomorrow, one day to explore the surroundings of El Bolson!