Bosque Arrayanes and Isla Victoria

Bariloche has some amazing attractions and if the weather is good,  you have to get out there and see them. Bariloche’s climate can change rapidly in a day from being reasonably warm and calm in the morning to winds so strong in the afternoon that the lake is whipped up into sea sized waves and the foreboding clouds all but cover the surrounding mountains. So, when we saw it was going to be a good day we opted to go on a boat trip on the lake and visit Bosque de Arrayanes (Forest of Arrayanes) and Isla Victoria (Victoria Island) We set off and caught the bus to the jetty where the boat leaves from, which is set in one of the most picturesque areas in Bariloche. It is so picturesque that Bariloche’s premier hotel, Llao Llao Hotel perches on a nearby hill overlooking the mountains and lake, absolutely stunning…

Boat Ride on the lake

When we booked out boat trip, there were two choices of boat, we could have booked on the modern catamaran or the older schooner type boat. We opted for the older boat, it had much more character and from what we could understand, had been running these trips since the 1940’s. The boat was beautiful, it was a true old maiden of the sea (or lake) she was brassed up and shiny and pretty much in excellent condition. She was slow, but you were able to really take in your surroundings while she took you to the destination.

Docked on the lakeside

The boat trip is beautiful, the lake water is amazingly blue and clear and you are completely surrounded by huge snow capped mountains, in the lake are the small islands which are covered in pine forests and we couldn’t help thinking of Canada. The boat trip was so reminiscent of taking the ferry from Victoria to Vancouver that for a minute we had to remind ourselves we were in South America.

Our first stop was Bosque de Arrayanes or Forest of Arrayanes. The Arrayanes is a shrub, although it looks like a tree. It has a reddish brown bark and it grows tall and thick, giving it a fairy tale effect. It is believed that Walt Disney wrote Bambi after visiting Bosque Arrayanes, being inspired by its absolute beauty and uniqueness. The forest is a natural forest and is unique to Bariloche, these bushes and forests don’t occur anywhere else in the world. It was amazing to spend some time walking through the forest. The park is protected, so you walk on a raised wooden deck and it is serene and inviting. We only were able to spend 45 minutes in the forest but we could have spent much more time there.

Bosque Arrayanes
Bosque Walkway

Next stop was Victoria Island. This is a large island in the middle of Lago Nahuel Huapi (Lake Nahuel Huapi) and has a few walking trails, a restaurant and a hotel on it. It is a large island, but very natural and very beautiful too. We got off and spent almost 3 hours on the island. We were a bit disappointed to not be able to do 2 of the 3 walks as they were closed off for some repairs or something, so we walked the only open route. This route took us through the natural pine forests and along the peninsula of the island which gave some great views of the surrounding islands and the lake. We then were back on our boat, really tired by now, and back to Bariloche. We had a long day, but stopped off at a coffee shop for something to eat and that is where we met Walter, Deborah and Matteo. We became instant friends and in fact, they live in Seattle in the USA, Walter is Argentinian and Deborah is American. They were on holiday in Bariloche and were having something to eat. So we chatted for a while and then swopped email addresses and said goodbye and hoped to visit them in Seattle one day. The next day we got an email from them inviting us to dinner with them and Walters family at their holiday place. So, we went, but that is a story for the next blog…

Disembarking
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