Why is Patagonia so fantastic that you can't miss it?


Joel Cuenya

Mar / 6 / 2020

Our Chief Driver and great Trip Leader Joel Cuenya tells us about his Argentina, his homeland and some important and interesting facts that you will want to know about Bariloche, Argentina and Patagonia!

Hi Joel, thanks for helping to design this great bike tour in Patagonia – it looks amazing. And thanks again for letting us interview you, so our interested clients can understand and know more about your Patagonia and you!

Firstly, tell us a bit about your connection to Patagonia.

I was born in Santa Rosa La Pampa, but I grew up all my life in Bariloche. All my family live there – my dad, uncles, cousins…everyone! I grew up with snow, winter, mountains, lakes, that is one of the reasons why I am now living in Switzerland, something very similar to my beloved Bariloche, a place in Europe similar with beautiful mountains.

My father is a bicycle lover since I was little, I saw him a lot on the bicycle. In winter, we did cross-country skiing with many friends. I had a lot of influence from the mountains, lakes, forests, camps, as well as my friends. In the warmer seasons, there are many more activities, but I valued fishing with my family and friends the most. When I first left Bariloche, I returned after 4 years, then every 2 years, and now every year I return to see my family and friends and my beautiful Patagonia.

Above: Bariloche Lakes

What do you do when you go back to Patagonia?

I climb a lot with my family and friends, rafting, and when it is winter, I snowboard and ski. We also hike up the mountains to the refuges, even when there is snow.

What is your favourite memory of Bariloche, Patagonia?

2000 New Year’s Celebration! Ha! I was in Bariloche celebrating with my family and friends and during the celebration, a few of us decided to jump on the lake! It was freezing, it is a very funny memory. Just for the end of the year, there was a giant “Asado” with fireworks and many friends. We got frozen that night, but it was is still so memorable.

What is your favourite part/place of Argentina´s Patagonia?

Obviously, the first favourite place is Bariloche because I have a lot of memories and I grew up there, and it has all my special loved people and traditions. The second is El Calafate, the Perito Moreno Glacier, which is a stunning, interesting and very special place.

Above: Joel Cuenya Riding his Bianchi Bike

If someone says Patagonia, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

The mountain and Huapi Lake. Since I was little, I liked that area and it was a very imposing lake, with incredible islands and mountains. There are different types of landscapes, there are also glaciers and volcanoes, but personally, the gigantic and special mountains are my favourite.

Is there a special tradition that we can do, or you recommended we try?

We can go eat a good “Asado”, that's a special thing. We must also make time to visit a real “Gaucho”, a man who takes care of the animals on the farm. They know about the land and the weather. A good gaucho with the beret on his side, to observe him, with his handkerchief and how they dress, that is very interesting. We could ride a horse, of course, that is something very common and very beautiful!

What Patagonian dish and drink do you recommend we should try?

The “Asado Argentino” is the most important, in particular the lamb version. And red wine like the big Malbec, it is a French grape that was taken to Argentina and now we have very good red wine.

Above: Joel´s photo on the "Ruta 40"

Do you recommend we swim in November – it is nearly summer?

Haha! No! The lake water is freezing cold! Water comes from the glaciers, maybe as an experience, a dare - get in quickly and get out even faster! Ha! Maybe to help recover from a long hard ride! There are also hot springs – I will find them for the guests, especially near the volcanoes.

Standard question – what is the weather like in in November? Sunny, windy, or rainy? What should we wear?

It is usually fine! Last Year, it snowed in October in the mountains, and at the beginning of November, it was a little cool. But in November, it is usually spring weather, and it should be quieter. I recommend that you always take a warm coat and clothes in the support vehicle, and take a cycle kit for changeable conditions. There is also a lot of wind in some places, so it is good to always be prepared and warm. If the weather is uncomfortable, I will be there to help.

Above: Joel´s photo visiting "Perito Moreno Glacier"

What is like to be on the road in Patagonia?

It is an interesting and very particular feeling - between villages, there are many kilometres of very long flat roads, surrounded by just nature. It is remote and dramatic and it is wonderful to observe the Andes. Wherever you are, there are beautiful things and nature is at its best. You have to experience it for yourself to understand it!

From your experience, is Patagonia worth to exploring by bike?

Yes, totally. Indeed, there are thousands of cyclists everywhere travelling and exploring the Argentine Patagonia. I think that cycling allows you to better appreciate and observe the landscapes and everything around you. It has become a really important sport and an increasingly popular way to visit our country and explore it.

Above: Bariloche, Argentina

Why should people come to Argentina and Patagonia?

They must see nature, the abrupt mountain shapes to the steppe and savanna, the high mountains and glaciers, to be able to see the diversity in the shape of the mountains, the fauna and the animals that exist there. It is a very unique and special place.

Tell us an interesting fact Patagonia...

There are several movies that were shot there, it is a very special place. For example, the movie of Brad Pit, Seven Years in Tibet has filmed near Bariloche! I remember it very well.

Above: Nahuel Huapi Lake, Bariloche, Argentina

Joel, thanks for taking the time to talk about your home and yourself. We can hardly wait to get there and ride there for ourselves.

Above: Joel riding in one of GTP Tours.