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Early(ish) start, 7am, as we’re off on an excursion to Puerto Blest. We booked it yesterday but aren’t really sure what we’re getting. We know there’s a boat trip across lake Nahuel Huapi from the Llao Llao hotel to Puerto Blest. Any more than that is a bit hit and miss.

We made it to the tour company office on time and got onto the minibus that was picking people up around town. At the Llao Llao port we were able to use the green cards for the National Park that we’d bought yesterday.

A catamaran took us across to Puerto Blest, a cruise of approx. one hour. It was a fantastic way to see the lake and you really got a feel for its size. Our hour long trip took in less than 1/6th of the lake. Along the way we passed the island where Perito Moreno was buried (president of Argentina in the 1940’s ish) [?] Every now and again around the edge of the lake you can see houses in the distance. Some of these can only be accessible by boat or a very long and bumpy car ride.

On the way it becomes clear that we didn’t really know what our excursion involved! Some people were carrying on over the border to Chile but our destination was Puerto Blest. At the travel agency they implied that there were several good walks you could do independently. This was news to the people who actually ran the trip.

Faced with six hours somewhere where there was only one one-hour walk we paid more money to go across lago Frias. Puerto Blest is a dock and a café/restaurant, nothing else. The trip across lago Frias was thirty minutes each way. The lake is green not blue, the effect of being glacial water. We had some pretty spectacular views of Mount Tronador on the way. At the other end of the lake was the Chilean border. We waited for those coming from Chile to Argentina and had the return trip to Puerto Blest.

No-one on the trip really seemed to know what was happening. Bariloche is quite a tourist trap (Argentinean & foreign) but they’re only really geared up for people who speak good Spanish. This is the way it should be but a piece of paper in English explaining what’s what would have been really helpful.

At Puerto Blest it was time for lunch. On the other side of the lake was a climb up 700 steps to the Los Cantoros, a small lake with waterfalls on the way. The boat took people across the lake to the bottom of these steps. We had already headed off overland to do the one hour walk to the steps. This was beautiful taking us through bamboo lined avenues.

We joined the steps (we later counted at about 200) and climbed the remaining 500 to the top. We took it quite quickly compared to most and were soon pleasantly puffed. Stef had a craft (and not allowed) fag at the top and we headed back down.

Back at the lake shore we found we had at least an hours wait until the boat headed back. This turned out to be 1¾ hours! We headed for the soothing coolness of the water and eventually made our way back on to the boat to have our lunch that we’d bough earlier at Puerto Blest.

Had we realised how long we’d have to wait for the boat to leave, and that it called at Puerto Blest on the way back, we’d have walked back around the lake shore. As it was we sat and waited and waited and waited and waited.

When the boat finally set sail we sat at the very front with our feet dangling overboard.

Back in Bariloche we’d opted to stay in town for dinner, rather than risking another Mascardi special of the day. We had to head back to Baruzzi to pay for the fishing and on the way Stef bought his mate tea gear. At Baruzzi he then also bought a one litre flask. He also spied a torch (like the one his Dad had) and Baruzzi were in pocket again!

We took a detour to the lake to change out of shorts and boots into trousers and shoes and headed for dinner. We decided to go for the Swiss influence and had a meat fondue at La Alpina. We’d never had meat fondue together before and were amazed at how filling it was.

This was really our first night out in Argentina as all others had been a bit artificial. 1½ bottles of wine, 2 café chicos each later we finally headed back to the hotel getting in at 1am. We felt a bit guilty that someone had had to stay up to let us in, oh well!