Circuito Chico: on a rainy afternoon in Bariloche
“I’m sorry, there will be too much wind tomorrow so you can’t go kayaking. Maybe you want to do something else?” That’s what we heard when planning our free day in Bariloche. After two days of prime hiking up in the mountains, we came back to town and wanted to do something active that would not include walking. But as we feared and had already seen on the forecasts, the weather was about to turn. A tour on Circuito Chico (“small circuit”) seemed like a good alternative for our kayaking plans!
San Carlos de Bariloche is a city located on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi in the north of Patagonia. It’s a very touristic place and even though we were there after the high season, it was still quite busy, but not in an unpleasant way. In fact, it felt quite good to be surrounded by people again after being in the quiet for a while in Chilean Patagonia. Bariloche offers all conveniences you may wish for as a traveler and has some really fine restaurants.
After we spent our morning hiking around Cerro Catedral, we were picked up at 3.00 pm at our hotel for our Circuito Chico tour. We were pleasantly surprised that the phone in our room rang 10 minutes to 3 already, something we didn’t expect when you are in the part of the world where the saying is “mañana, mañana”… Our guide was already there and after we picked up some more people on the way we left the busy city behind. Officially, the city of Bariloche stretches out all over the Circuito Chico however, shortly after leaving downtown, you are right in the middle of nature already.
Our first stop was at Cerro Campanario, a 1.050 m. high mountain, where we were promised to get a great view of the lakes. The English receptionist in our hotel already told us that the view from up there would be one of the prettiest he’d ever seen in the whole world. Well, if a guy who traveled a lot said that, it had to be true, right? So we gladly paid the fee for the chairlift (90 Pesos or 9 USD each, not included in the tour) and began our ride up in the somewhat rickety aerosilla.
When we arrived at the top, we immediately felt an incredible gushing wind (leaving us glad that we didn’t go kayaking) and walked over to the right for the promised incredible view. Incredible it was indeed. Lakes and mountains reach as far as the eye can see and surround you for almost 360 degrees.
After about half an hour at the top we took the chairlift down again and continued our tour. By the time we got to the next stop, it was pouring with rain and many people in our group didn’t even bother to leave the van for a picture anymore. Such a shame, because at least the rain always brings something good, in our case it brought us a beautiful rainbow. Right at the edge of Perito Moreno Lake, it started to shine for us.
While driving further we reached Cerro López and the trailhead for the ascent, where we made a note to ourselves that sleeping at the refugio on the op the mountain would be really good for a next trip. We also passed the mountain climbers cemetery where climbers all over the world are buried. Not necessarily because they died in this area but because they think this is a great spot for their last rest. Beautiful thought, no?
We drove over to the Llao Llao hotel which is incredibly expensive and as we were told quite something for the rich and famous. The location is gorgeous and if we ever win the lottery, we’ll book a room there for the rest of our lives.
The last stop of our excursion was San Eduardo Chapel, a beautiful mostly wooden building. Even though we are not really into buildings, chapels and churches are always something we really enjoy visiting. If we possible we try to light a candle for our passed friends and family. Therefor we were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t see the chapel on the inside.
After the visit to the chapel we drove back to the city and our tour came to and end.
It was a pity that we didn’t have good weather but as Anto’s dad always used to say when she was complaining about the poor weather as a child: “just remember that most of the rain falls next to you anyway”.
We always try to see the positive side of things and even though some people in our tour group didn’t seem very enthusiastic about the things we saw, we believe that an important part of traveling is seeing things the way they are and appreciating the beauty of nature in their purest form. Rain or sun, cold or hot. We enjoyed Circuito Chico a lot, it was well arranged and the tourguide spoke excellent English.
One thing we still are wondering about is why all the trips at Circuito Chico don’t end with the chairlift to Cerro Campanario. Why not save the best for last and have a great overview of all the things you have seen during the day? Then the tour would really end “with a Bang!”
Our trip on Circuito Chico was organized by Class Adventure Travel who we have traveled with in the past for our Inca Trail experience in Peru. All opinions above are 100% our own as we do not work with organizations who want us to write in their favor. CAT offers tours all throughout Patagonia and Argentina and collaborating with them for Circuito Chico has been a pleasant experience.
As we all know, sharing = caring so if you enjoyed reading this post, it would be much appreciated if you’d share it with your friends!
Bella Vida Letty
What an amazing view. How nice that your plans turned out so well.
Thanks Bella, glad you came to visit our site 🙂
Raphael Alexander Zoren
Bad weather can make or break a destination (90% of my outdoor photos of Amsterdam were a complete fail due to the fog). I’m glad you guys found an alternative 😀
Awww so sorry to hear about your Amsterdam pictures. Good reason to come back one day, we’ll gladly show you around!
In spite of the poor weather I still think you have had a good day out and the scenery looks wonderful.
I’m sure that on a brighter day it would look fabulous and well worth a trip back.
I’ve never heard of Circuito Chico before so thanks for perking my interest.
Thanks Guy! Hope you can make it over to Circuito Chico (and Patagonia) because it’s totally worth going to.
Great review of your tour– I felt like I was there with you. We are thinking about getting down to Patagonia next year, so this is great information for me. And I love your attitude, always best to gather the positives!
I have family that lives there! It’s such a stunning corner of the world. You know, our photos look almost identical because I have done the same hike, also on a cloudy day! haha… Great place though!!
Oh lucky you to have family there – do you get to visit them a lot! we’ve heard from many locals that it rains a lot there but then again, it also does in the Alps and we still go there every year. We were lucky to get some good days while hiking out at Cerro Tronador the days before so can’t complain. And when in Patagonia, you can’t just have sun, right?
Looks like a great trip, despite the crappy weather. And hey, you got a rainbow!
Thanks for visiting our site Britany! It was a great trip – the rainbow was the icing on the cake.
I love the quote: “appreciating the beauty of nature in their purest form.- rain or sun, cold or hot”. Weather is pretty much one of the main things we can’t control when we travel. If you’e only in a place for a limited time, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got! Looks like you guys certainly made the most of it! And you even got a rainbow!
Yes you are so right. Sometimes we get blown away by pictures in brochures that always have good weather that we tend to forget it may not always look like that. As we have a passion for the mountains, we know it can’t always be good – and we’ve learned to accept it and make the most out of it. And yes, the rainbow, that was just perfect 🙂
Love your writing and advises ! Love To go to Argentinia !
We should check with our friends at Aerolineas if they can arrange a trip for us together Els!
In spite of the bad weather the views look stunning anyway. I agree that nature can be awesome in any of its aspects, not only with sun but also with gloomy skies.
I actually think that a gloomy weather can donate a particular charme to certain places.
I like the idea of the hikers cemetery: it’s indeed a beautiful thought to be buried in a place with such an amazing view!
I was almost afraid Martijn would want to be buried there – but then again, it would mean I’d have to move there so maybe it’s a good idea, in like 50 years or so. And yes, some places are better with gloomy weather, for example the UK (you’re the expert) !!
Class Adventure Travel
Lovely article and it was our pleasure to have you both traveling with us again! We hope to see you both back in Latin America soon!
Thanks guys! We are already saving and hope to return to Latin America soon!
Meagan | LifeOutsideOfTexas.com
Wow, your photos are truly beautiful! It’s unfortunate that you couldn’t kayak, but seems like this pretty amazing. I love the stop and take in the beauty of places. Clouds can be a photographer’s best friend because you don’t have to fight with the harsh sun… and what a rainbow!
Yes the rainbow made the day extra special, like the icing on the cake. Clouds can indeed be great, we usually prefer them over a perfect blue sky because that is, honestly, a bit boring. Thanks for taking a moment to visit our site Meagan, much appreciated!
Love the big photo at the top! Weather looks pretty cloudy – was there a big storm at the end?
Well the storm never really started, or at least not when we were on the circuit, but you know how the weather can be in the mountains …
Satu VW / Destination Unknown
Beautiful images and I agree, nature is beautiful even when the sun is not shining! We often travel with our white water kayaks and then the rain especially doesn’t bother us, we’ll get we anyway… 🙂
Very nice outing on your day of “active” rest. I like the sentiment from Anto’s dad. Of course, rain is no big deal. Any day you are traveling and adventuring is a wonderful day! Thanks for sharing all your fun pictures.
Thanks JR for visiting we12travel! My dad is very practical and learned me to never complain. Whining about poor weather can be done anywhere – just not when traveling 🙂
How much did you pay for the CIrciuto Chico tour?
No idea Asar, it was a sponsored tour in exchange for a review!