One of many outdoor activities around Bariloche is the Circuito Chico, a bicycle ride around the seven lakes starting 18 kilometres from town. You can rent a bike from the only place, Circuito Chico Mountain Bike. The ‘easy’ circuit takes you up more than one thigh burning climb and soon enough we feel as though we’re in training for the Tour de France.
Pass the EPO, Armstrong
Sweating bullets the first lookout over the lakes is a welcome respite from cycling.
Following this it’s, yep, another microbrewery going by the name of Gilbert’s. Thankful for the downhill roll into the grounds which has restaurant, brewery and a campsite, the wooded area offers a shaded environment for quenching one’s thirst. Within the dimly lit restaurant it’s eleven o’clock and empty, though the fires still stoked creating ambiance in tune with the rustic décor. Try the stout, good drop and not too sweet.
Moving on a few kilometres down the road we turn off to a small village (3 kilometers down a dirt side road) modelled in a ‘Swiss’ theme. Colonia Suiza, to us anyway, seems far from a Swiss village though does contain a few nice buildings, a couple of micro cervecerias (Berlina – closed for brewing – and Diuka) along with a market that’s busier in the high season. Sitting in the grass amphitheatre behind the market, several gliding condors circle the peak rising above us.
The Hotel & Resort Llao Llao set between two lakes has been a favourite with celebrities and the political elite for decades and seemed a little exclusive (we weren’t allowed in even to take tea at the restaurant, though we know other people have). The views though do make it a worthwhile stop. Back to the rental depot and with our sore arses waving goodbye to the bicycles, it’s back on the bus to town with a pit stop at the Berlina (2nd location) and Blest brew pubs.
Starting off at the Bavarian themed Blest, with its wooden clad vats adjacent to the bar, bench style seating in the small front beer hall and personally written notes pinned to the walls create a perfect afternoon ambiance. Having a pint each of the Half and Half (Pilsen and Bock) the sun warms the front hall whilst we wait for the time to pass until happy hour down the road at Berlina.
Jumping back on the Bariloche bound bus we arrive to a joyous bunch at the hostel with the copa America Final between Chile and Argentina about to commence.
As you may well know, Chile won for the first time, Santiago went nuts, three people died in the ensuing celebrations and the one Chilean amongst a dozen Argentinians at the hostel partied like a maniac.
Bariloche and it’s surrounds are beautiful, but don’t take our word for it, check out more pics on Flickr.
Tips for Circuito Chico
- Jump on bus number 20 and let the driver know you want ‘Circuito Chico Bicicaletas’ for the bike hire. On the return trip the stop is out the front of the rental office. Ask for Berlina Brewery as from here it’s a short walk down to Blest Brewery.
- Take plenty of water as there are some uphills.
- There are plenty of places to eat along the way if you don’t wish to take a packed lunch.
- Try for the Happy hours as the beers CHEAP!!