BARILOCHE, ALL YEAR ROUND
On the shores of Nahuel Huapi lake, in the heartland of the National Park by the same name and in the middle of the Andes mountains, San Carlos de Bariloche town welcomes people from all over the world and opens the gates to Argentine Patagonia.
Bariloche is located in the west of the province of Rio Negro. It is a place where time seems to have stopped for visitors to enjoy this exceptional environment, a natural Andean scenario that provides warmth and sheltering attraction with its eternally ever-changing beauty.
Bariloche stands out for its architectural features and because it is surrounded by hills, woods, mountains covered with eternal snow, lakes and rivers. It offers the widest range of options for tourism, both conventional and adventure, and may be enjoyed in every season of the year.
You breathe fresh air in the streets, and the immense Nahuel Huapi lake can be seen from any part of the town. Walking along the woodland trails is a marvelous experience of being by yourself and in harmony with nature, far away from the pollution and stress of large cities.
Compared with the crowded metropolis, Bariloche, with its hundred thousand or so inhabitants, still lives the life of a mountain village. This place not only offers its population panoramic vistas and a constant contact with natural beauty, but also serves as a melting pot of different cultures and races, aptly reflected in the indigenous origin of its name and its German influence.
San Carlos de Bariloche started out as a village settled by mountain people, most of whose inhabitants descended from Swiss, German, Austrian and Italian pioneers. They came from Europe to settle this land bringing with them their own customs and lifestyles, and even originating a variety of regional products that still characterizes Bariloche.
The definitive settlement of the region started in 1881. Two years later Chacabuco Fort was built, near the stream estuary by the same name, on the Limay river. At first it consisted of only three huts made of mud and straw, a "mangrullo" (watch tower) and a defensive moat.
In 1889 Jarred Augustus Jones settled next to the fort (already abandoned) with 1500 cows, and in 1893, José Tauschek with his family settled next to the lake.
However, the first white man to settle in what is today the urban center of Bariloche was Carlos Wiederhold.
The son of Germans arriving from Chile, he built his house and later his business premises near the present "Centro Cívico". He did business with wool and other goods and after a time his shop, called "La Alemana", became a meeting place for the people living in the region.
It is believed that Wiederhold received a letter wrongly addressed to "San Carlos" instead of Mr. Carlos or "Don Carlos", this becoming the origin of the name of the town, that was officially christened on May 3, 1902, the date of its foundation.
To the name San Carlos, Bariloche was added, being the Spanish distortion of the native name Vuriloche, a word from the "tehuelche" language meaning "different people, from the other side".
This was originally an agricultural area but, as time went by, it became a tourist attraction because of its scenery and the possibility of practicing skiing. As a result, the whole village changed the direction of its economic development.
Bariloche is the gate to the Patagonian lakes. It has been a tourist attraction for eighty years, and there is a wide variety of services based on an important infrastructure of all-category hotels and an annual movement of 650,000 tourists that visit the town.
There are few places in the world where the seasons are so well marked as in Bariloche. The snow changes the landscape abruptly in winter time, spring is full of colors, long and warm days in summer and spectacular color shades in the fall, and all these changes permanently accompanied by the welcoming friendliness of the people.
If you decide to visit Bariloche, remember to leave behind you the frantic rush of the "big city". And above all, do not forget that a host of unforgettable experiences are awaiting you.