With just one morning left to enjoy the town of Bariloche and its surroundings, my travel companions and I opted to visit the nearby peak known as Cerro Otto.
Cerro Otto (4610 ft./1405 m) is named for Otto Goedecke, one of the first European settlers in this area. Goedecke, originally from Germany, arrived in Bariloche in 1892 and settled on roughly 600 acres (250 hectares) at the foot of the mountain that would later bear his name. He raised numerous crops and animals on his land until his untimely death in the 1920s, when he was murdered at the hands of an apple thief. Learn more about Cerro Otto and its namesake [link in Spanish].
In 1930, Goedecke's countryman Otto Meiling made Cerro Otto his home. Meiling – a nature-lover, skiing enthusiast, and something of a hermit – lived up on the mountain, strapping on his cross-country skis in winter whenever he needed to go into town. He built both his home and a mountaineering shelter, Refugio Berghof [link in Spanish], on the slopes of Cerro Otto. The mountain played host to the first ski school in South America, where Meiling gave classes and hand manufactured skis.
We took the easy way out and ascended Cerro Otto aboard aerial cable cars made, not so surprisingly, in Austria. In just 12 minutes, we were whisked from the foot of the mountain to its summit, enjoying a wide-open view of Lago Nahuel Huapi and the city of Bariloche below.
As we stood admiring the view and trying to do it justice through the lenses of our cameras, we noticed a group busily arranging some sort of lines and parachutes. Some minutes later, as a pair leapt off the face of the mountain into the wide expanse of nothingness, we realized that they were tandem paragliders.
[Here's where my sister Marianna and I pretend to fall off the mountain (moments of silliness are important, you know). The imposing ridgeline of the mountain behind us belongs to Cerro Catedral.]
There's actually quite a bit to do up there on the mountain besides jumping off of it. Cerro Otto offers hiking trails, mountain biking, and horseback riding; cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in winter; a revolving café with 360º views of the breathtaking landscape; and even a modest art gallery. Since we were pressed for time, we didn't take advantage of any of the outdoor activities, although I did hike the trails with Daniel when I visited previously.
[Cerro Tronador (the snow-capped peak) visible in the distance]
[Click here to enlarge this panoramic photo taken from Cerro Otto.]
It's a well-known fact that the mountain air makes you hungry, so we claimed a table in the revolving café to continue enjoying the view while tucking into our final meal of the trip. [Check out this cool time-lapse video taken from the revolving café.] A few spins in the café and one sandwich de milanesa later, I packed up my camera and said goodbye to Bariloche…and my family.
View photos of my previous visit to Cerro Otto with Daniel in 2008.
Next up…the final installment: Patagonia From My Window