Hippies, Hammocks, Havens and a bit of Tranquilo in El Bolsón, Argentina

hammocks in el bolson patagonia argentina

walking towards the river, afternoon sun, el bolson, patagonia, argentinaA stream with crystal clear glacial water provided the soundtrack for the idyll afternoons

The late afternoon sun peeked through the leaves on the walnut tree, flickering as the breeze swayed my hammock ever so slightly from side to side. I had been in this same position for the past two hours… or was it three? In any case, time seemed of little consequence as I looked around, a similarly tranquilo scene was played out all around me. A couple was lazing in the sun next to the stream, watching the butterflies as they flitted from one lavender bush to the next. Another girl was on a swing in the far corner of the garden, and judging from the glee in her eyes, quite possibly the first time in many years she has been on one.

We were in El Bolsón, in Patagonian Argentina.

I hadn’t heard of El Bolsón until I was researching the route to take from El Chaltén to Bariloche in Argentina. A small hippy town two hours south of Bariloche, the centre of the Argentinian lake district, El Bolsón sways to a distinctly different vibe. Whilst Bariloche is busy and somewhat upmarket, a ski resort town with a Swiss-styled architecture, El Bolsón is the counter-culture capital of Argentina. A haven for hippies in the 60’s and 70’s, who settled in the town and declared it a non nuclear zone and an ‘ecological municipality’. Nestled in the valley between two mountain ranges, it has its own unique micro climate, suited for the cultivation of cherries, raspberries, boysenberries, apples, and hops, which goes into the production of artisanal beer, for which the region is famous.

lonely planet argentina, el bolson, patagonia, argentina

orange berries on a tree, el bolson, patagonia, argentina

We were staying at La Casona de Odile, a little sanctuary for those who preferred things a little slower. Situated about five kilometres from town, it was accessible only by a dusty track on which a private bus plied once every hour, with a break during midday for siesta. A curious assortment of travellers were gathered there during our nine day stay, a Belgian toymaker, a Luxembourger carpenter, a South African yoga instructor, a television producer from Buenos Aires, a French-Palestinian lawyer, a pair of French doctors and a few other battle hardened travellers who preferred to keep to themselves.

Evening conversations spanned anything from trading travel tips for various parts of South and Central America, to politics and philosophy and stories of home. Such is the camaraderie between long term travellers, unusually open as there was no fear of judgement and no emotional baggage to carry. Secrets flowed with travel tips across the dinner table, all washed down with a generous serving of the local brew.

lavender plants, el bolson, patagonia, argentinaLa Casona de Odile, barely visible amidst the lavender bushes

girl on a swing in a garden, el bolson, patagonia, argentinaA portrait of rural idyll

the sun sets on mount Piltriquitron, el bolson, patagonia, argentinaThe late afternoon sun on Mount Piltriquitrón

naked boy and father, el bolson, patagonia, argentina

drinking mate, el bolson, patagonia, argentinaAn afternoon mate, the ubiquitous Argentinian beverage

enrique and pablo, new friends in el bolson, patagonia, argentinaEnrique and Pablo, childhood friends living in different continents, but reunited again in El Bolsón

empty beer mug, el bolson, patagonia, argentinaA rather common sight during our stay in El Bolsón


I left my job as an advertising Creative Director in August 2012 to travel Africa and South America for a year with my wife, documenting these beautiful places with my Fuji X-Pro1. View the rest of my RTW adventures on Handcarry Only and follow me on my journey by subscribing/following/bookmarking.