Soaring with the Condors…
After a sleep in and late breakfast our first morning, we decided to take a walk to get a feel for our surroundings. As it was a beautiful clear day and the weather forecast was predicting a change in the next day or two, we thought it prudent to aim for the top of Cerro Otto, a 1400m peak close to town, deemed to have one of the best views of the area. It was also in the direction of town, albeit a slight detour, giving us the option of going there too.
The main road into town is paved but very busy with cars, buses and trucks, so we chose to venture to the gravel streets behind the hotel and weave our way up.
Apart from the numerous dogs barking and chasing cars and the choking dust from the vehicles going past, it was a relatively pleasant 7km walk to the base of the mountain where we could catch the cable car.
We decided that we would take the easy way up rather than walk so that we could enjoy the walks accessible from the top.
This turned out to be a great idea as this price included access to the facilities at the top, which even comprised copies of artwork by Michelangelo (taking us back to our time in Florence), and the return trip down.
From the various vantage points, we were captivated by the beauty of the lakes and mountains surrounding us on all sides. We began understanding why our hotel is called Nido de Condor (Nest of the Condor). We had the privilege of seeing countless Condors soaring above, some coming close enough to make out the striking white of their wings and their large beaks. They really are amazing birds to watch- they are huge yet so graceful.
Condor is the common name for two species of New World vultures, the name being derived from the Quechua kuntur. They are the largest flying land birds in the Western Hemisphere. Condors are part of the family Cathartidae, whereas the 15 species of Old World vultures are in the family Accipitridae, that also includes hawks, eagles, and kites. The New World and Old World vultures evolved from different ancestors, however, they both have distinctive bare heads. The Andean condor is second only to the wandering albatross in terms of wingspan among all living flying birds. The lack of a large sternum to anchor correspondingly large flight muscles identifies it physiologically as a primary soarer. The birds flap their wings on rising from the ground, but after attaining a moderate elevation they seem to sail on the air.
Our first taste of chocolate
Following our downward ride in the cable car, we continued our walk into town. Unfortunately we had to head down to the main road to do so, and whilst it makes for good views as it passes along the lake, the roadworks did nothing to reduce the traffic and dust.
After walking more than 10km for the morning, we could not resist having our first taste of local chocolate. We went to Rapanui, one of the larger outlets, housing a retail area, café, seating area for take aways and even an ice rink. We opted for the table service of the café as it would give us an opportunity to relax. It was a good choice as was the lunch of chocolate fondue for 2 with accompanying fruit and other delicacies!
Sun setting on day 1 in Baricloche
We’d had enough sun and dust for the day so caught the bus back to the hotel. As we watched the sun going down on our first day in Bariloche, we sipped on a glass of wine and nibbled some bread, cheese and jamon crudo that we’d bought at a supermarket before leaving town.