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Published: November 2nd 2005
Goodbye to San Martin de Los Andes, by far the prettiest town I've seen. The trip to Bariloche by bus (4 hours) goes through totally doffernet terrain, more like the wild west of America with mesas and fantastic rock formations. Also spotted some herds of red deer and guanaco grazing along the roadsides. I've been told that guanaco are much more prominent than other llama-type animals (llama, alpaca, vicuña), and that you can get really close to the down in Torres Del Paine, so I'l wait to take photos there. Bariloche is full of chocolate shops and fancy-pants ski clothing places, with a handful of touristy t-shirt places thrown in for good measure. The mountains around Bariloche have a lot of the 'Sound of Music'feel about them, which explains the major Swiss influence throughout the area. The people are very friendly here, much more so than in Chile, which is the opposite of what most publications say about the Argentines. There's plenty to do around here when the weather is behaving itself - hiking, rafting, kayaking, boating, mountain biking (was going to happen today but the rain is coming in, so I'll have to do it elsewhere). Even when it's raining
San Martin de Los Andes
there's a lot of window shopping and chocolate-sampling to be done. The shopping is pretty good in Argentina, with the Argentine peso being so low at the moment, you almost feel guilty at the low proces sometimes. I reckon if I ever did the return trip I'd leave more bag space and pick up some more stuff while I'm over here.
The most prominent building in town is the cathedral. Catholicism is the main religion here, and the church gets packed on Sundays and Fridays. Strangely enough, it also seems to be one of the (many) designated make out points for the local teens and lounging area for stray dogs...
No tent camping as yet, I am currently sussing out options around Bariloche for the weekend, weather permitting. Tomorrow I'm heading out to one of the sheep estancias to watch the shearing and then take a quick horse ride around. They usually follow up the ride with an asada, or BBQ, of which the Argentines have set the challenge of trying to have the world's highest lunchtime consumption of meat - sounds like fun.... Friday is a catamaran trip over the lake to Isla Victoria and the Parque Nacional Bosque
they really like deer here
Statue, San Martin de Los Andes
Arraynes, which is basically a huge forest of enormous Luma apiculata trees - definitely not the hedge-type specimens usually seen in Australia! Will take plenty of pics to post here later on. Will probably move on to Osorno and Puerto Montt after the weekend, and then head down toward Torres del Paine after that - definitely some camping time due there.
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