Situated on the banks of the Rio Quemquemtreu, the charming little town of El Bolsón is sometimes missed by the tourists who flock to the chocolate shops and restaurants of nearby Bariloche.
But don’t miss out: El Bolsón is surrounded by hiking trails into the beautiful landscape of the valley in which it lies and offers an abundance of delicious local produce and craft beers to keep all visitors busy for a couple of days.
Dip into the shimmering waters of Rio Azul
A 6-mile (10km) round-trip, this trail meanders through glorious scenery culminating in views over Rio Azul and Lake Puelo beyond, before dropping down to the river itself where the cool, clear waters are ideal for a dip on a hot day.
At the Refugio Rio Azul, you’ll find food and local beer as a reward for the hike, while other shelters further into the mountains are available for overnight stays.
Sample the local beer of El Bolsón
Situated at the heart of the Argentine craft beer scene, El Bolsón it notable for being where hops were introduced to the country, brought from Europe by German immigrant Otto Tipp in the late 1800s.
Since these humble beginnings, a range of small breweries have sprouted in the area and visitors now travel the short distance from nearby Bariloche to sample the local brews. The most notable include Parapoto, Otto Tipp and Piltri, all of which can be tasted at the local Artisanal Fair held in the town’s main square every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Hike to Cascada Escondida
Accessed from the northern edge of El Bolsón, Cascada Escondida is a magical set of three waterfalls tucked away in the verdant forests that surround the town. Expect to see kingfishers and pretty flowers on the 30-minute hike to the waterfalls and remember to take a bathing suit and a picnic so you can make the most of this tranquil spot.
Eat El Bolsón’s famous ice cream
Few visitors to El Bolsón can avoid falling in love with the town’s most famous heladeria (ice cream parlor): Jauja. With shops in the trendiest Argentine cities, El Bolsón, Bariloche and Buenos Aires, this ice cream has now reached legendary status among locals and foreigners alike.
Prepare to try everything from boysenberry to Argentine favorites, dulce de leche and yerba mate – you’ll likely be back each and every day of your visit!
Explore art that sprang from the ashes
In 1982, a fire raged through the forest growing on the slopes of Mount Piltriquitron, burning through everything in its wake and leaving just scorched earth and tree stumps. But local artists decided to transform what was left from the fire into something creative, and so El Bosque Tallado (the Carved Forest) was born.
Artists from all over the country have since carved the remaining lenga trees into the abstract pieces and sculptures that now line the mountainside. Visitors can get there by rental car or with a tour and it’s worth hiking further up the hill to the refugio for even more outstanding views of the surrounding valley.