On The Road In Argentina

Filming of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road adventure, scheduled for release in 2011, should be completed this month. The cast, which includes Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, and Kirsten Dunst, traveled from California, Canada, and Louisiana to Mexico City and further south to Argentina. We will explore a few of the places and attractions featured in the movie.

Movie producers have found Argentina a prime location for film production as seen in the vineyards of Motorcycle Diaries and the mountains of 7 Years in Tibet. Many of the scenes from On the Road take place in and around Bariloche in the beautiful foothills of the magnificent Patagonian Andes. Tourists visit the area year round (the seasons are reversed) for winter skiing at resorts such as Cerro Campanario and summer vacations in the Lake District. Located within Nahuel Huapi National Park, San Carlos de Bariloche is an interesting town of German, Swiss, and English heritage, with numerous hotels, restaurants, and a variety of attractions for the tourist trade. Nahuel Huapi National Park (Island of the Tiger), Argentina’s oldest, covers a vast area, over 2900 square miles of lakes, rivers, mountain peaks, and peninsulas. (More information on hiking, camping, and exploring the park can be found online. $10 fee at certain access points.)

In Town:

Dining:

Beef, lamb, wild game, and fish are on the menus of most restaurants in the area. Positive reviews include Kandahar International, Naan, Alberto’s Steak House, and Cassis, about 20 minutes from town on the shores of Lago Gutierrez. Travelers enjoy the local Blest beer at the Map Room Irish pub/restaurant, coffee at the Antigua Cafè, or ice cream at Jauga. Chocolate lovers should visit the shops in Bariloche that feature the best products in Argentina such as Frantom, Mamushka, La Abuela Goye, and Tante Frida.

Civic Center – National Park Headquarters, Tourist Information, and the Museo de la Patagonia Perito Merino, which houses natural science, history, and ethnography displays, as well as colonial period artifacts from the region. .

Museum Hours: 10am – 12:30pm & 2 to 7pm, Tues thru Fri; 10am – 5pm, Sat.

Admission: $3. Gift shop onsite.

Out of Town: If the town of Bariloche seems too touristy, consider exploring the natural beauty of your surroundings by taking the 37-mile road around the Llao Llao peninsula. Cycling is a popular pastime and an excellent way to enjoy the scenery, flora, and fauna of the region. Bicycles can be rented in town; if you prefer, you can hop a local bus or arrange a bus tour of the area. There are trails through the forest where you can stop along the way at an outdoor restaurant for the famous Argentine beef or lamb cooked on the parilla (grill), hike down to the beach at Bahia Lopez, or follow the trail to the Refugio Lopez hut, a shelter for backcountry skiers and mountain climbers

Another option is the free shuttle bus from town to the gondola ride at Cerro Otto for more great views and a visit to the revolving restaurant at the top.

Cost: $15 p/p. Hours: Jan-Feb & Jul-Aug, 9:30am to 6pm. Other months – 10am to 6pm.

To fully appreciate the outdoors, consider renting a car for all day sightseeing around the Seven Lakes through small villages and valleys below interesting rock formations in the cliffs, home to the Andean condor. There are lookout spots and various type of lodging along the way.

The village of Colonia Suiza, about 12 miles out of town, may be of interest to tourists for its Swiss pioneer history and curanto, a time-honored way of cooking in the ground dating back to the late 1800’s. Covered with cloth and earth, complete meals are placed beneath the firewood on a layer of branches over hot rocks. Go to this attraction on Wednesday or Sunday at noon to watch the preparation, enjoy the food, buy some handicrafts, or visit the small museum and chapel nearby.

Boating, rafting, and kayaking on the lakes are popular activities for tourists, especially the lake crossing excursion between Argentina and Chile. This one or two-day trip takes you by catamaran from Bariloche across Nahuel Huapi Lake to Puerto Blest, across another lake, and then by bus through several small towns and on into Chile, if you choose.

Approximate cost: $175 p/p – one day. (Full itinerary, reservations, and prices available online.)

Shorter, less expensive excursions on the lakes are also available at rates from $30 to $50 p/p. Tours and guides can be arranged, as well.

Accommodations:

Praised by travelers and recognized by World Travel Awards as the leading golf resort in Argentina for 2010, the very luxurious Llao Llao Hotel offers superb spa services, kayaking on Moreno Lake, skiing at Mt Catedral at over 8,000 feet, spectacular views, and excellent food. Special reservation only events are held at Christmas and New Years in addition to painting, photography, and language lessons. Summer activities in 2011 include yoga sessions, workouts at the Pilates Studio, hiking, Nordic walking, and mountain biking.

Room Rates: $500 lake view, $700 suite. (Golf & spa packages available.)

Posadas Aurelio on Mt Catedral has 5 fully equipped villas that will accommodate from 4 to 6 people. Travelers will find Wi-Fi Internet, satellite TV, linens, and kitchen amenities in each villa. The Mt Catedral Ski Resort nearby offers all types of skiing on 53 runs with 39 lifts, snowboarding, paragliding, day care, and other services for visitors.

While on location, members of the cast spent time in the small, picturesque village of Villa La Angostura, about 50 miles from Bariloche. Although it is considered a mountain village with traditional European wooden architecture, travelers enjoy the leisure and recreation of sport fishing in nearby lakes, canoeing, skiing, and hiking through forests and lush vegetation. Cycling from here to the Myrtle Forest at the entrance to Arrayanes Park, a park within a park, takes about 3 hours. The small deer or pudú-pudú that inhabit the forest are reminiscent of the ones in the movie Bambi.

Accommodations:

The upscale Las Balsas Spa Hotel offers extensive spa services, personal trainers, 2 swimming pools, golf, water sports, and outdoor activities, as well as gourmet food and cooking classes.

Nightly Rates: Lake view rooms – $480, suites – $770.

(Note: Two to 5-star hotels, mountain cabins, apartments, private houses, and hostels with reasonable rates can be found in the vicinity of Bariloche and Villa La Angostura. Numerous campsites are also available.)

Restaurants: Local favorites include Gran Nevada, La Encantada, La Oveja Negra, Los Troncos for venison and trout, and popular regional cuisine at Tinto Bistro.

Going to Bariloche: Regular weekly flights via Aerolineas Argentinas, as well as train and bus service from Buenos Aires, or 16 hours by car. From Chile, you can drive from Osomo to the international mountain pass to Argentina, continuing on to San Martin de los Andes and south to Bariloche (total drive about 170 miles.) Border pass is usually open year round, 9am – 8pm.

Sharon L Slayton

Filed Under: Movie tourism

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