Please view our latest post for updated information on the status of the Bariloche Airport
Currently, the airport in Bariloche is still closed, due to complications associated with the volcanic ash problem from the June 4 eruption of the Puyehue Volcano. The plan now is for the airport to re-open on July 8. Until that date, Aerolineas Argentinas will be running flights originating in Brazil, passing through Buenos Aires, for customs and immigrations, flying to the Esquel or Neuquen airports, followed by overland transfers into Bariloche. The distances from Esquel and Neuquen to Bariloche are approximately 300 km (186 miles) and 460 km (286 miles), respectively. These complimentary ground transfers are to be paid for by the Río Negro province, home of Bariloche. I suppose one might be able to get on this flight if there were an opening, but it is designed to be an exclusive service for Brazilian patrons. Why the special treatment? Brazilian tourists account for the vast majority of foreign visitors to Bariloche, year after year. The estimated number of Brazilian visitors to Bariloche for July 2011 is 46,000 people.
Additionally, many local businesses in Bariloche, including hotels and restaurants, are offering discounts up to 30% off, in order to stimulate business in the wake of the Puyehue disaster. The Cerro Catedral ski resort, which is just starting its ski season, has announced they will be charging their mid-season rates during the high-season, equivalent to a savings of 30%. If you’ve ever wanted to get a good deal in Bariloche, this is the year to do it.
As stated in a previous post, several other transportation options exist to reach your ski destination in Patagonia before the opening of all of the airports. Many of our guests and guides have used the Via Bariloche and El Valle bus services in the past. It is a much cheaper option, typically costing about half the price of air travel. Another benefit of this travel option is the drive itself, taking in the views of the Argentine countryside, travelling through the pampas, while casually sipping wine and being served high quality meals all along the way. If you do choose to travel to Bariloche by bus, we highly recommend upgrading to the Cama Ejecutivo or Tutto Leto seats. It is well worth it, considering the length of the trip (20+ hours).
Stay tuned for updates, we’ll keep you posted. We will definitely be letting everyone know when the airport opens, and the entire town will rejoice. Until then, think snow.