The 123km trip southwards along the RN-40 from Bariloche to EL BOLSÓN offers yet more stunning mountain and lake views. Just inside Río Negro Province and set in the bowl of a wide, fertile valley, hemmed in by parallel ranges of mountains, El Bolsón is a thriving tourist centre with numerous trekking opportunities close at hand. It was Latin America’s first town to declare itself nuclear free and an “ecological municipality”. Owing to the claim that the jagged peak of the nearby Cerro Piltriquitrón is one of the earth’s “energy centres”, El Bolsón became a popular hippy hangout in the 1960s, and while it’s a bit more commercial these days, the laidback atmosphere persists. In summer it’s particularly popular with young Argentine backpackers, since it’s far easier on the wallet than nearby Bariloche.

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