Monday we headed over the Andes Mountains to Bariloche, often called the Switzerland of Argentina.
The bus took us through some beautiful alpine forest, and we saw the aftermath of one of the volcanic eruptions that occurred in 2011. This was quite a large event , yet no one in our group (us included) could recall hearing about it. The ash covered the forest and obscured the sun for so long that the trees couldn’t photosynthesize and many of them died. There was a layer of sandy ash over a foot thick left on the floor of the forest and they had a big controversy about whether to clean it up or leave it.
The controversial decision was made to use water jets to scour miles and miles of forest floor to was out the ash. The scientists are still debating whether this ended up causing more harm than good.
Since we were leaving Chile and heading into Argentina we had to cross the border again. The top of the Andes is basically the border between Chile and Argentina in this area. It was a similar process as we had last time further south. There were two checkpoints, one leaving Chile and another several miles away to enter Argentina. Once again we had some issues with the Argentine reciprocity forms for some in the group (at least it wasn’t us this time) but we finally got it straightened out and were on our way again.
Our next stop was for lunch at local restaurant followed by a boat trip across lake Nahuel Huapi to Parque Nacional Arreyanes for a hike through the forest. The trip across the lake took an hour and a half and we viewed a forest of a special kind of myrtle tree that only grow in two places in the world; New Zealand and this part of Argentina.
Then we got back on the boat to Puerto Panuelo which is the dock right next to our hotel, the luxurious Llao Llao (pronounced schow schow) Resort. The weather was splendid and we sat out on the deck and soaked up the sun as we motored across the water.
The Llao Llao was built on the outskirts of the town of Bariloche as a resort for the very wealthy in the early part of the 20th century. During one of the military juntas it was closed down and it fell into disrepair. Once democracy was restored the hotel was renovated by the national park service and restored to its original glory. Recently it has been sold to private operators who seem to be taking excellent care of the property. It reminded Stacy and me of the Broadmore in Colorado Springs except it has a more woodsy look to it with exposed log walls and high arching wood beam ceilings. The resort has a full 18 hole golf course, spa and a beautiful infinity pool. Our next day is a free day to enjoy the resort and I have my eye on that pool!