My Plan for the next few days in Bariloche were centred around hiking in the great woods of this region.

My Hiking Plan

  • Isla Victoria Forest
  • Arrayanes Forest
  • Illao Illao Peninsula
  • Cerro Illao Illao
  • Cerro Campaniro

Isla Victoria

Isla Victoria and the cinnamon-white bark forests of the surrounding islands were apparently the inspiration for the classic Disney cartoon Bambi. While It didn’t draw me to the forests, that didn’t stop some of the Bariloche shops taking a cue from the cartoon.

On my 1st day in Bariloche town I checked on the various tour operators on the possible treks I could undertake safely on my short stay in the area. I’d heard conflicting reports from the national park office in the civic centre, that the lake islands wouldn’t be accessible due to the tidal issues this time of year. Though I asked about the tour operators in the streets nearby and settled on the operator CAU CAU). They operated a modern catamaran and seemed reasonably priced (approx S$80 for a day trip covering Victoria Island and the Arrayanes Forest in the north). They accepted credit cards, which was a crucial factor at the time I was having ATM issues.

Cau Cau was apparently a reference to the white birds that swoop over the boats. And this is apparent in the waiting area of the ferry terminal.

The tour started in the morning, with a 9am pickup from the tour office in town. The guide apologetically informed me that her English was pretty basic and I’d have trouble following the guided group. I replied that it wasn’t an issue as I planned to wander as far away from the main group as possible anyway :D.

The Cau Cau flocks also serve as an on-board tourist attraction.

Once we arrived at the island we were informed of the boat schedule and the overall route we’d be taking on the island (there were about 4 colour-coded trails on the island). I stayed just within earshot of the group and tried to wander as far as possible into the tall forests of the island.

The tour group had a long lecture (in Spanish) on what appeared to be an abandoned farm settlement.

Which included some discarded & now rusted farm equipment.

It’s been a while since I’d last experienced the Autumn colours (well my last such experience was in December 2014 when I visited San Jose, California.

Though not entirely new to me, it was a welcome change from equatorial Singapore (or even Sri Lanka for that matter) in which there are only 2 ‘seasons’ (wet/humid & hot/dry) driven by the monsoons. And I intended to take full advantage of my time on the island to wander in this temperate forest.

###Pine wood forests There were plenty of information boards throughout the park, though most were entirely in Spanish so I had to resort to using Google-Translate to make sense of the signs.

Apparently some of the trees were not native to this region and had been introduced in the early 1920s by a government official who was so impressed by European pine forests that he decided to plant them in the ‘unproductive’ region of Patagonia for the benefit of the tourist & logging industries.

The introduction of these alien species was considered as an ecological disaster by modern conservationists and the park has made attempts to protect the native trees as much as possible. One such reserve for the native Patagonian forest is the Arrayanes Forest north of Isla Victoria.

Solo Walkabout in the forest

After completing the main circuit, the guide informed us we had an hour to kill before the boat departed for the next stop. So I decided on taking the orange & yellow routes.

I stopped dead in my tracks to listen to the forest. It was near silent apart from the sound of the cold Patagonian winds, an occasional bird chirp and the creak of the gently swaying trees above. The solace affords one time to think fairly clearly which is something you seldom get in the city-life.

Native rock paintings

I continued on to the yellow-trail which was to take me along the beachfront to the ancient native cave-drawings.

Native Arrayanes forest

The next stop on our tour was Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes, home to a Patagonian native: the rare arrayán tree. This part of the park looked like it had less of a populated history (unlike Isla Victoria which earlier had a logging industry).

It was here that we met our English-speaking guide who explained to the handful of foreign tourists (well non-Spanish at least) in the group (2 Brits and an American family) the climate and flora of this part of Patagonia as well as the conflict between native & alien tree species.

It can be noticed that these trees seem to have bent trunks and have a very flaky bark. They’re apparently from the same family as Australian myrtle. The guide noted the dead trees in the forests were killed by an volcanic ash that rained from a Chilean eruptions over the nearby border.

This was a short tour and the guide gave us about 10 minutes to explore the park further but as tourists were restricted to fenced walkways there was little left to wander about. After snapping a few photos of the rare trees I made my way to the jetty and my return trip to Bariloche.


For hardened hikers this would feel a bit of a let-down, but if you’d like to have the peace of mind of having transportation settled for you and clearly defined walking trails then I’d suggested a visit to Isla Victoria. For European tourists, there may be little to differentiate this region from your own temperate forests other than the fact that most of the native trees are endemic to the Patagonia. Some basic Spanish would be handy if your wanted to actually follow the guided tours and learn some more of the history of the area, but I think you might be able to lookup these details online anyway.