Most of you are probably wondering, “What is a llao llao?” Good question. According to http://www.enjoy-patagonia.org/ it is
This fungus is preferentially found on the coihue; its hifae (tubular filaments) undermine the bark of the host tree’s branches, forming the characteristic “knots” that can be up to 1 m in diameter. The fungus is edible, and is pear-shaped, white and tasteless when unripe, later becoming orange-yellow, juicy and sweet.
In a Spanish speaking country like Argentina you might expect it to be pronounced “yao yao”, but around here it sounds more like “jao jao” when the locals say it. It is also the name of area west of Bariloche. There is a spectacular hotel there, reminiscent of the Banff Springs Hotel, a municipal park and hill that all share the Llao Llao moniker.
This area is beautiful and it attracts a lot of visitors, but with the all the visitors come tourist prices. We checked on a few excursions, but they were nearly $100 each. We don’t have the budget for that on this trip, so we hopped on a #20 bus and rode it out to the hotel end of the line.
Hiking up Cerro Llao Llao
The bus let us off at the hotel and from it was a about a 2 km walk to the trail head. The road and trail took us into Llao Llao Munucipal Park. The park is 3,000 acres of mixed forest with coihues, mountain cypress, mosses, bamboo, ferns, and more. The weather was partly cloudy and the winds were pretty brisk depending on what part of the cerro (hill) we were on. I tried to take plenty of photos and videos, but it is hard to capture the size of some of the trees on a cell phone camera.
A Walk In The Woods
The main activity for us on Christmas Eve was the hike up Llao Llao hill in the park. The walk through the woods was cool and comfortable. The leaves, clouds, and breezes kept us from overheating. It was about 2.8 kms up to the end of the trail near the top of the hill. The trail didn’t quite go to the top, but it was wooded and wasn’t going to offer a 360 degree view anyway. The viewpoint at the end of the trail was great. The arms of the lake and mountains around it offered impressive views in a 180+ degree sweeping vista. I’ll let the pictures and videos tell the rest of the story.