Needing a detox after Bariloche’s craft beer overdoes, the hippy retreat in the hop growing region that surrounds El Bolson probably doesn’t sound like the wisest choice, though as we found out, at the beginning of winter it’s dead quiet.
Two and half hours on the Bariloche Bus later, checking into the Hostel Pehuenia the lovely Valeria, with whom we’d corresponded via email, has upgraded us to our own private cabin. With sheer delight at the TV hanging on the wall we turn on the only channel in English, Fox Movies, and flop down on the massive bed, wrapping ourselves in the down duvets whilst the external temperature barely wakes the thermometer.
Arriving at the wrong time of year for hiking the surrounding area, we’re confined to the vicinity of town. Moving out to explore, the enthusiasm rapidly flails as there’s not much here to keep one occupied. Along with the well over priced beer, food and coffee, it’s hard to imagine that El Bolson is a magnet for the unwashed stinky type of person. Lacking the charm and location of Bariloche the streets do have the quintessential dreadlocked Rasta shuffling along.
Unimpressed with town we also find out that our intended hiking trails to Rio Azul and Cabeza del Indio are ruled out as the weather is against us (no one likes hiking in the pouring rain). With three nights booked until the final leg in our South American chapter to Buenos Aires, we take to the El Bolson Brewpub in town for a blog session accompanied by a few brews.
A sun filled kitchen, comfortable bed and TV give a perfect surrounding for lazing about, with the rain falling on the roof making for a cosy atmosphere. Utilising the hostels fully equipped conservatory style kitchen, our home cooked Milanse Chicken and Chorizo de Bife is washed down with a local red wine and our day’s finished in guilty pleasure whilst fighting the three large local dogs chase each other around the mud.
The final overnight bus in what has been a medley of differing experiences starting in Santa Marta, Colombia, will take us to our departure point of South America – Buenos Aires. Wishing we’d stayed up in Bariloche, it’s a quick scour of the market (lacking full population of vendors due to the time of year) dotted with hippies selling the same woven jewellery crap, before making ourselves at home on the 26 hour bus.
If you thought that a bus with a journey time of this length would bring some resemblance of class you’re going to be disappointed. El Rapido’s dirty interiors, dinners lacking chicken, audio plugs that barely work coupled with cama (full reclining) seats that scarcely pass for semi cama belay all hopes of actually enjoying one of the mythical plush buses so many travellers bang on about in Argentina. Champagne, wine with your meal, a whiskey night cap…they’re a myth unless you want to pay more than an air ticket, which we didn’t.
Armed with 2kg’s of mandarins we hoped to combat the diabetic inducing food we were served…seriously who wraps carrot and lettuce in a swiss roll??). Cake for breakfast with, surprise, dulce de leche, even the hot water for our morning tea came premade with, you guessed it, sugar!! The coffee vat at the back was help yourself and came complete with…sugar! The most exciting thing that happened in 26 hours was the magic sunrise that made us feel like we were driving in a pink fairy floss machine.
For more great pics of Argentina check out our Flickr Page. Thanks for reading.
Tips for El Bolson:
- Visit in the Summer, it will be a lot nicer, more vibrant and the hiking far more accessible.
- It’s not the prettiest town (compared to Bariloche) and the prices are not cheap.
- Stay at Hostel Pehuenia, Valeria and her family are amazing.