Today was the first clear day in Bariloche since Saturday! The skies were blue, there was minimal volcanic ash in the air, and you could see for miles. I was happy and decided to take a day trip to Llao Llao (pronounced yow, yow) and Puerto Pañuelo in the Andes foothills.
About a 45 minute drive from Bariloche along Nahuel Huapi Lake, Llao Llao is best known for the posh hotel and golf resort of the same name. The elegant hotel sits on a hilltop between lakes Moreno and Nahuel Huapi.
Puerto Pañuelo is on Nahuel Huapi Lake near Llao Llao. It’s a departure point for boats crossing the lakes between Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia. The isolated area is gorgeous and deserves to go on the list of the best places in the world to escape. Really, no one could ever find you there!
Llao Llao has an interesting history. The hotel was built in 1939 and constructed almost entirely of wood. It was destroyed by fire the same year. A year later it was rebuilt out of reinforced concrete and stone. In 1976, it closed due to a lack of maintenance funds. For years after its closure it suffered from neglect and vandals robbed the abandoned hotel.
In 1993 Llao Llao reopened after a complete renovation by its new owner, CEI Citicorp Holdings SA. Citicorp acquired the hotel as compensation for holdings in Argentinian government bonds.
Argentina’s biggest real estate developer, IRSA Inversiones y Representaciones SA, acquired the hotel in 1997 for $13.3 million. Later they sold 50% to the Sutton Group. In 1999 the hotel became a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. It has won many prizes including the Best Hotel and Resort in the Argentine Hinterland.
Hiking around Llao Llao was a day well spent. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in South America. When I arrived back in Bariloche it was a lively scene with people out and about. Everyone seemed overjoyed to be free of ashy skies and able to spend time outside having dinner, shopping, and visiting their friends. Hopefully the next few days will be clear, so I can experience more of this very beautiful part of Argentina.