Bariloche – Kite and Kayak

After quite a late night arriving and socialising in Bariloche, I head for the breakfast which is included in the accommodation. As seems to be the case its a pretty simple breakfast of cornflakes, toast and jam but I think its the first time I have actually had a cup of tea since we left Santiago so its a great comfort to have one here.

I can see the wind is picking up a bit, but we are pretty sheltered out of town in the hostel and campgrounds so its not that windy. I confirm the time of my kite surfing as 2pm and then move Kayaking which is back at the campgrounds to 6pm. Luca the admin on site gives me directions as to how to get to the Kite location and also organises a Sube Card which is the only way to get around on public transport. (Although apparently you can pay passengers cash in order for them to pay you on the bus on their cards, that is pretty common here so worth knowing, as the card itself is 40peso).

So I walk from the campground to the bus stop which is about 5minutes away so not far, and their is a little convenience store opposite so that I can buy a bottle of water. I realised then I hadn’t asked which side of the road I should stand on to get the bus, but as it turns out I think that this is almost the last stop. The 50 bus comes every 20 minutes after the hour, and today was on time which was good. The bus stop is also pretty much the first one/last one on the route so its easy to work out what to do, but essentially stand in the bus stop in order to go to Bariloche.

I have to get off at the shopping centre which again is pretty easy to work out, and from there I have a map and directions to follow which are ok but not particularly detailed. So once I get to the shopping centre I head down towards the Emrico roundabout. There is a street performer at the traffic lights before the roundabout juggling for money in the traffic, not something I have ever seen before really but he seems to be doing well out of it.

I carry on walking following the directions past the roundabout and then left, its at this point I am thinking maybe walking wasn’t the best plan, its deserted streets and not sure if it looks like a residential area or an industrial park. There are a few people walking around and I am sure I must stand out like a sore thumb here, anyway I keep ploughing on and then try to work out exactly how to get off the street onto the lake front, its not exactly that clear but I see a small track and can see the kites flying and luckily find a way to make it through.

When I get there I realise as well that I don’t know what Timo looks like, and on top of that its pretty clear how strong the wind is, as its clearly blowing about 20-25knots and probably gusting a bit more if I am honest. Luckily for me Timo spots the tourist on the beach and comes over to get me started. First thing I go over is my experience and he just simply advises that the weather is not ideal but its up to me what I want to do. Anyway, the lesson is 800 peso for an hour which is basically about £30 so for me thats pretty cheap and worth giving it a go, I mean how often do you get to kite on a freshwater lake in Argentina! I get kitted out in full body 4,3 wetsuit (because it is very very cold in the lake), buoyancy aid, helmet, harness, and an 8m kite (all included in the cost of the lesson) and we head out to the water.

First word of warming, its pretty damn rocky and slippery so the first challenge is just getting into the water without any wetsuit shoes. I keep the flip flops on and Timo says to kick them off. Second thing is its really wavy, not surprising with 25knots blowing and whitecaps all round, so the waves keep knocking you. And finally, you don’t float so well in freshwater so everything is twice as much effort! Starting with body dragging out to past the rocks in order to get started. The wind is from the south west so at least its not on shore breeze, but it will carry me fast down wind to the further shore of the lake if I don’t watch out.

Long and short of the hours lesson is, it takes a bit of time to get used to the freshwater and get back into the swing of things but I get a good few runs up and down. Losing the board a couple of times pretty much wears me out, trying to upwind body drag into waves in freshwater to retrieve it, but the adrenalin is pumping and I am determined to get this right. The hour runs out quickly and I am under time pressure for the next activity so have to call it a day. But it was definitely an experience I was glad I did, and like Timo says I think if you can kite there in that weather and conditions you can kite anywhere!! It was tougher than any other day I have had so far.

So, I start the walk back, this time taking the route that seems to be the main entrance. It goes through what looks like an old abandoned school, I walk through looking at all the graffiti around and then hit locked gates, I assume there is another way out and luckily see kids walking in and a car so quickly find my way out and start walking back to the main road. Lets just say its a nerve racking walk and thankfully I make it safely back to the city centre. Its this point I realise that I have no idea where I go to catch the bus back to Los Coihues!! Oh dear.

Well the shopping centre is a one way street so I assume its probably the next street over, so I do a quick walk around the block… nothing. Luckily a no. 50 comes along and so I try my pigeon spanish to work out where to get the bus back, and he tells me its the next street over in the other direction so thankfully I find the bus stop and not long after that the bus arrives. Probably a handful of stops in a couple of buskers come on the bus and start singing and playing guitar, and everyone on the bus is laughing and singing along, its such a contrast to busking in London but really nice and everyone puts their hands in their pockets to give something to the couple before they jump off.

On getting back I quickly get ready for kayaking, where its me and 6 other spanish people from the camp. The instructor speaks very little English so Fred ends up joining us in order to help out and I basically get almost private kayak lesson! The river we are going in is at the end of the campsite and we start with some basic manoeuvring, forward, back, upstream, downstream, what to do, what not to do and capsizing…. which a couple of the spanish guys have got down to an art form. Its a fun little trip and very relaxing, and a pretty good workout. I am glad of the day kayaking with Pete in Canberra as it gives me a bit of an edge although the kayaks are different here and meant to roll.

Its a good couple of hours of kayaking up and down the river, and it is really lovely and lots of fun watching the others fall in and feeling good that I have managed to stay out of the water. That is until two of the spanish guys collide with me and the flow of the water turns them over and then me, and so in the end we are all in the water!! Thankfully its not that cold and the sun is still up but as you go further down the river its more under cover and it starts to get colder and colder basically. By the end of the trip we are all freezing and shivering, and cannot wait to get back and have a warm shower. Its good when we get out as we are met by a couple of people with towels so we can get warm at least, we drive back to the campsite and take a photo for their Facebook page and then I run off to shower.

The shower wasn’t as great as was needed, and only a trickle of water so I have to be in there a while to get warm but it starts to happen eventually but I am still freezing pretty much. I put on lots of layers to get warm and then head down to dinner. This is being put on by the chef at the campsite, its also Ryan’s (dragoman) birthday so we all sing to him and get stuck into what is a true delicious BBQ Trout and vegetables dinner, with roasted potatoes and a fabulous cream and celeriac sauce which pretty much everyone wants the recipe for and accompanied by some local wine all included for 350 peso which to be honest is pretty good.

We have another evening drinking at the bar and chatting, and Fred shows me all the photo’s from the kayaking earlier which have been posted on Facebook. They have come out really well actually and all together this was a pretty great day.

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