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A taste of the hippy magic in El Bolson

I was looking forward to going to El Bolson.  I heard it was a beautiful town with majestic mountains, colorful flowers, homemade beer, artsy stuff, fresh organic berries and had a general laid-back vibe.  Yeah, it was kind of a hippy place.  But honestly, deep down, I must be one too.  I’ll come clean.  I love this stuff.  And I loved El Bolson.

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We stopped in El Bolson for an undetermined amount of time so I tried to find somewhere cozy to stay.  La Casona de Odile fit the bill and then some.  Actually, it was TOO cozy.  We ended up staying 3 nights longer than we planned for a total of 5 nights.  It’s just that kind of place.  The kind of place where wood fires are crackling, someone has just the right song on the i-pod at all times, dried herbs grown right on the property hang from the ceiling and a long-haired man with a funky hat greets you with a smile at the door.  They even had an herb garden where you can pick your own herbs for your dinner for crissakes!

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As if the hostel wasn’t cozy enough, they had a spacious property complete with a garden and hiking trails:

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Yes, this is what El Bolson was all about.  I convinced Laurent to splurge for the private room complete with our own huge bathroom (oh the luxury!) and we even had our own little cat for a while.

IMG_0961So cute, right?  He would come to sleep with us every night, which was really cute until the night I woke up and the room reeked of cat shit.  The next morning we discovered cute Kitty covered Laurent’s clothes with cat shit!  That was the end of our little friends sleepovers.

Our main purpose in El Bolson, aside from sampling the local specialties of homemade beer-which was delicious, by the way:

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fresh caught trout (a Patagonian specialty and a must-try in this area.  The trout is super fresh and giant; the taste reminded me of Pacific coast salmon):

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and the best ice cream I have (seriously this time!) ever had in my life (all organic and over 50 flavors!!)

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Our real purpose here was to start training our bodies a bit for all of the backpacking we were going to be doing in Patagonia in the upcoming month.

The original plan was to do an overnight backpacking trip to the Cajon Azul but the weather was supposed to be torrential downpours for the second day of our alleged adventure.  So we decided to make a day trip out of it instead and it rained on us anyway!  The hike was still amazing but we sadly realized how out of shape we were.  We mustered up the energy to push on  and discovered the aptly named, breathtaking Rio Azul:

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We had to cross several of these rickety bridges throughout the hike:

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_IMG5896but what was worse was the uphill climbing involved!  Especially since it started to rain early on.  The hike was still amazing, even with the rain and it provided us with good training.   The area surrounding El Bolson is really stunning.  We got hooked on its magic:

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We arrived back to our inviting hostel where the fire was going nicely and we could cook a dinner in the spacious kitchen.  And honestly, that’s what we did for the next few days.  Cook at the hostel, enjoy the warmth of the fire and overall chilled-out atmosphere.

_IMG5957Tips for El Bolson:

1.  If you do choose to stay in the hostel we stayed in, it’s located pretty far outside the main drag.  There is a bus service but there is only 1 per hour and they stop running after 21:00.  You can also take a taxi for a reasonable price but that could potentially add up.

2.  If you plan to do any hikes in the area, the trailheads are located far outside town and you have to take a taxi to get there (even if you are staying right in town).  The taxis can get expensive if you are doing multiple hikes at different trailheads.

3.  You can stay overnight on many of the hikes in rustic yet beautifully set refugios:

_IMG5942But keep in mind the refugio cost  just as  much as our hostel did (about $20/night).  You can’t beat the location though.

4.  If you need help planning your trek, this website is a great guide.

Happy trails!!

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