El Bolson / Argentina

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Right when we pulled our bodies off an overnight bus from Chile, a dreaded 30-something, who’s last laundry day was a month back, biked by at a leisurely clip with his guitar in tow. The reviews claiming el Bolson as the hippiest town in Argentina made sense and I felt right at home. Coming from southern Chile, where we were camping in the mountains surrounded by Alpaca and wild horses and very modest gaucho homes every now and then, the creative touch here was refreshing to see…the mosaic glasswork windows, hand-painted signage, breweries and ice creameries, young craft sellers, solid little log cabins, and homes that looked whittled from gnarled roots and fit for fairies (or very small Argentines).

Right at the start it felt like a place to lay low and relax. And then we got to our hostel…which had a brewery, hammocks in the back, morning yoga, dried lavender hanging from the ceiling, silky cats milling around our legs (except for the one evil one, which the owners would straightup toss out the window), chill music playing, and our pace slowed even more.
El Bolson is ideal for chilling out, meeting other travelers, hiking, catching up on journaling and giving that book another attempt. Just outside of town there are queserias, pescaderias, cervecerias (the town grows a plethora of hops), lavender farms, all of which you can pop into, some of which lead tours. If you have good weather, go for a hike for a day or for a few days. There are tons of refugios along the way that provide a mattress and nibbles. No need to bring bottled water, as you can drink from the streams along the way. We hiked up to Refugio de Cajon del Azul and took a shocking dip in the icy river on the way back.

At a glance…

  • Do go for a hike and stay at some refugios. The Feria Artesanal craft market is worth popping by, however it’s really talked up in guidebooks (it’s also where you will find weed, so we heard, ask anyone with dreads).
  • Eat/drink at the tiny little bakery where the busses drop off. If you order everything, its okay because they’re small. Stop by Jau Jau for icecream (we recommend the banana, peanut butter, and chocolate combo).
  • Sleep at La Casona de Odile. This really was a magical little place to stay, tucked into the woods against a swift river, five minute drive away from town. All the other travelers we met were wonderful, good conversation in the close quarters kitchen. The included breakfast was homemade bread, homemade blackberry jam and strong coffee. It’s a popular spot for backapckers, so book in advance.
  • Don’t plan to stay for just a night because, as others warned us, you’ll stay for a week. We ended up extending our trip a day or so.
  • Don’t miss swimming in the river!
  • Tips Ask wherever you set out from, but we were able to drink from streams all throughout Chile and Argentina. Bring a Nalgene. Buses run super often to Bariloche and you can buy tickets from the main bus/taxi stand in town, you won’t miss it.
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