Clear Day after Calbuco Eruption
Today was the first clear day in Bariloche since Saturday! The skies were blue, there was minimal volcanic ash in the air from Volcano Calbuco’s eruption, 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.
Nahuel Huapi Lake
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 that cross the lakes between Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia. The area is gorgeous beyond words, and deserves to go on a list of the best and most isolated places in the world to escape. Really, no one could ever find you there!
Llao Llao Hotel 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. After its closure, the neglected hotel was abandoned and robbed by vandals.
Llao Llao reopened in 1993 after a complete renovation by 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 fifty percent 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 seen in my travels throughout South America or anywhere in the world. When I arrived back in Bariloche it was a lively scene with people out and about. Everyone was overjoyed to be free of ashy skies and able to spend time outside having dinner, shopping, and visiting friends. Hopefully it will remain clear for the next few days, so I can experience more of this very beautiful part of Argentina.