There are a few things I know in life, and one of them is when National Geographic labels a spot as one of the “Top Ten Views in the World” and you’re in town you’ve gotta go see it. And as someone turning slowly into a one woman National Geographic, I’m proud to confirm they’ve nailed this one-
Welcome to the top of Cerro Otto, one of the mountains just outside Bariloche which is one of the ski mountains in winter and a popular hiking spot in the summer for very obvious reasons. You can hike all the way to the top but this is a good ski mountain meaning it’s super steep and takes over 90 minutes to go up, so I decided to wimp out and hop on the gondola instead-
This actually turned out to be a great choice just because if you know anything about gondolas you can tell by looking this one is older than me! You know, the sort where not only do you open the doors yourself and they could only fit a tight four people, the workers at the station literally have to lift and put the gondola onto the cable themselves. (To refresh your memory, it used to be that there were two cables for a gondola system, one for the upward and one for the downward direction, and the wheel at the bottom was independent. As I said, old school.) This “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” system of things comes into play pretty often in Argentina, which I’ve truly loved just because there have been so many blast from the past moments.
This is the final destination of the gondola- the top of Cerro Otto and site of a rather nice revolving restaurant. They had curros filled with dulce con leche here (the latter being an amazing caramel-like spread very popular in Argentina) and it was awesome, and all the while I got to take in the paragliders and the view…
Now I tend to not make many judgments about how other people live their lives compared to how I choose to live mine- we can’t all be globe-trotting astrophysicists I suppose- but I can’t say I understand anyone who can look at pictures like this and not vow to see Patagonia someday!
Anyway, photo ops finished it was time for a hike, because this is Patagonia and that is what you do around here. Lots of great hikes winding through sun-dappled paths and the like.
Not the best shot possible, but this is one of two condors I saw while hiking. The Andean condor has the largest wing span of any land bird (over 3 meters!) and trust me, these things are big. Frankly they’re a delight to watch just because it’s so cool to see something of that size soaring through the air!
Me taking a rest on an abandoned-until-winter chairlift. Cerro Otto isn’t the biggest or most famous ski area near Bariloche- that honor goes to Cerro Cathedral, about 20km outside town- but this one has the advantage of being a ten minute bus ride from the city center and certainly had good runs from what I could see even if it’s a touch smaller.
So all in all an amazing day with a great hike and incredible views! Patagonia is amazing and I can’t tell you how many times I found myself thinking of Marco Polo’s famous last words on his deathbed, “you would not believe half of what I saw…”