Pampa Linda, a world unto itself

Riders and hikers enjoy Andean dream spots.

Bonnie Tucker / FST
Pampa Linda is, as its name suggests to people in Argentina’s northern Patagonian region, a place with a pretty green meadow or pampa. However, the real beauty of this little Andean valley 77 km southwest of the city of Bariloche is its view: it lies at the foot of Mount Tronador (3,478 meters), the highest peak in Nahuel Huapi National Park. A world unto itself managed by a local pioneer family, it houses an inn and a hostel that serve as bases for many hikes and riding excursions, or starting points for mountain climbing expeditions and ice climbing courses.
… foto Pampa Linda hostería BLOpPampa Linda is a good place to forget about the outside world. It is an excellent sampler of the different types of native forest that surround Argentina’s most famous mountain resort but are unknown to the average tourist who just stays downtown for a couple of days.
… foto SALTO CHILCOS BLOG.jpg Most of the people who check in at Pampa Linda come to hike and ride horses for a few hours a day, a whole day, or days on end, because they know that there are enough trails and bridle paths in dream places to keep them entertained for at least a week. In a single day, one of the inn’s long horseback rides can take riders to waterfalls, glaciers, humid forests, and meadows in low areas that contrast with arid volcanic highlands that give riders a breathtaking look out over the top of the Andes.

The log hostel, which serves fast food, was built in 1947 by Ben Vereertbrugghen, the rancher son of Bariloche’s Belgian-born first physician. The inn was constructed in 1994 by Ben’s son Andy. Today the inn is managed by Linda, Andy’s daughter.
The inn accommodates as many as 36 guests in double rooms, triples and apartments, all with private bathrooms and intercom phones. Guests who come for just one or two days pay for excursions and the use of mountain bikes.

These services are included in the rate of those who come on three- to seven-night package plans. A three-night package gives two people a double room, meals and activities for US$246 a day.
oto A pleasant living room with a fireplace, a TV room, a library, a game room and a barbecue house make eventual rainy days pass quickly.

Trails for short, easy hikes that last from one to four hours lead to the Nalcas Fall, the “black” glacier, and the headwaters of the Manso River.
Hikes of moderate difficulty that take more than four hours round trip lead to the Castaño Overa hanging glacier and the Alerce glacier cascade.

The more difficult ones, in steeper terrain, go to a lookout point above the valley (four hours there and back), the Otto Meiling Refuge (nine hours) and the Ilón Lagoon (nearly eight hours round trip).

Horseback Rides
The easiest rides offer views of the Alerce glacier cascade, the “black” glacier and the Castaño Overa hanging glacier; each takes five hours.
… foto Cabalgata Otto Meiling BLOG.jpg … The more difficult rides, which pass through spectacular highland landscapes, take nine to 10 hours, including time taken out for a picnic lunch. One goes to the Ilón Lagoon and a lookout point above glacier-carved Lake Frey and the Tristeza branch of Lake Nahuel Huapi.
… foto Cabalgata Cerro Volcánico BLOG.jpg … The inn’s top ride to Mount Volcánico (a dormant volcano) offers an unforgettable view of Mount Tronador, Chile’s Osorno and Puntiagudo volcanoes, and all the peaks of the Andes as far as the eye can see. This ride is done on cloudless days only, so that riders will be able to enjoy the view seen below.
… foto Cerro Volcánico vista BLOG.jpg The inn is open from September 15 to April 15. However, the best months for doing all-day riding or hiking are January and February, when enough snow on the upper slopes has melted to allow passage of excursionists.

What to pack
The weather is very changeable in Pampa Linda, which by the way is more humid than most other places in the region. Be prepared to shed or add clothing throughout the day. You need rainwear (a waterproof jacket and trousers); warm clothing (a ski jacket, a fleece shirt, a wool or fleece cap, and thick socks); a long-sleeved shirt to protect against the sun and/or insects, and other summer clothes for the frequent sunny days; comfortable hiking shoes (avoid new ones); a wide-brimmed hat or visor cap; a bandana, a small knapsack; insect repellant; swimwear, and a camera and/or video equipment with sufficient batteries and memory.
For further information, see Reservations in Buenos Aires: 5031-0070.

PHOTO CREDITS: Mount Tronador seen from the Pampa Linda inn. Fuchsias near a waterfall. Mountain biking. The living room of the inn. Hikers enjoy the view of Lake Frey and the Tristeza branch of Lake Nahuel Huapi. The Castaña Overa hanging glacier seen during a ride to the Otto Meiling refuge. The ride to Cerro Volcánico. The view from atop Cerro Volcánico. All images courtesy of Pampa Linda.