YOU ride a horse for five hours and not walk funny
Trip Start Sep 20, 2011
19Trip End Jan 15, 2012
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Hosteria Santa Rita
Hosteria Las Marinas
Hotel Club President, Puerto Montt
San Carlos de Bariloche...............
Today we fly, rather than bus, to Bariloche. Pam wasn’t too keen on long bus trips and this would have been another overnight trip.
We arrive at Jorge Newbury Airport bright and early for our 9.00am flight. Checking in, we are told that the airport at Bariloche is closed and has been since March.....the Chilean volcano and I booked in November, guess they didn’t realise that the airport was closed..
“No problem”, the lass informs us, “we have booked you on a flight to Esquel at 11:30am
So our short morning flight has now become an all day affair.... by bus we would have been there by now.
Apart from being renowned as a major skiing area in winter and a fishing area in summer, Esquel, it turns out, is an important part of the Welsh migration history into South America.
The valley we fly into was named in 1885, Cwm Hyfryd, Welsh for “The Beautiful Valley” and is now part of the food bowl of Argentina.
It is in the province of Chubut and here each member of a group of Welsh riflemen, under the command of Colonel Jorge Fontana, were given about 7000 acres of land - there is quite a history related to the Welsh migration worth a read if you are interested.
The bus from Esquel travels through “The Beautiful Valley” on it’s way to Bariloche....the sides of the road a mass of colour with lupins in their pastille coloured glory of purples, blues, creams and reds. Also lining the roads were masses of brilliant, yellow broom (they were imported from Scotland and have since run riot)....... beautifully.
Our Hosteria, Santa Rita, is right on the edge of Lago Nahuel Huapi, 7.2 km from the center of town. The view from our room is another to die for - Isla Huemul and Peninsula de San Pedro in the foreground and across the lake to the mountains on the other side.
Bariloche, how to describe this little town? It is often referred to as being like the Alpine Lakes of Europe, but as I haven’t seen these, I can only say that the place is stunning. The modern settlement of Bariloche began with a small shop “La Alemana” (The German) opened by Carlos Weiderhold. By 1895 with primarily settlers from Austria, Germany, Slovinia, Chile and Italy it started to get a European style.. Around 1930 the city center was built to have the appearance of an alpine town “Little Switzerland.
Our first sight of Lake Nahuel Huapi was of waters whipped up by cold, strong westerly winds. The ash from the March eruption and the continued venting of Chile’s Puyehue Volcano (the one that closed airports in Australian and new Zealand) is still a problem.......
When the winds blow, and today it sure is, the gritty ash is a menace. For us, though, it doesn’t spoil the grandeur of the lake views.
Tonight we eat at a small local bar.............. Empanada’s made fresh we had to wait
These small stuffed pastries are a delight. Stuffed with a variety of meats, vegatables, cheese, seafood, even fruits among others....... I think they originated in Portugal or mediaeval Iberia. Certainly before 1520 as there is a Catalan cookbook “Libre del Coch” that has empanades mentioned. On a cold evening taken with a cold cervaza or vino tinto they are hard to beat.
Bariloche is a tourist destination, that’s for sure.....hotels and hostels everywhere - most in alpine designs with plenty of stone and woodwork as well as high pitched roofs... mainly painted white and green . Summer and winter here must be crazy.
Bariloche is the premier ski area for Argentina and the main field, Cathedral, runs right on the edge of town. As you walk through the town, it appears that every second shop sells handmade chocolate - some very large, with cafe facilities and varieties of chocolate to suit all tastes............. It must be the Swiss influence.
Bariloche has a nice town square. This one is full of skateboarding kids, while others just sit and chat in small groups - the end of the school year is near. .......I find a very beautiful Cathedral, Cathedral of San Carlos de Bariloche (1947) this time not on the square but on the lake’s edge
Other than the tempting chocolate shops...and yes we succumbed...you find all the outfitter stores, North Face, Columbia, Marmot.....no surf shops here. There are plenty of tour places as well that specialise in adventure packages...an outdoors person’s paradise.
Our stay here is only for a couple of nights as we are off into the national parks for four days, our destination is Pampa Linda. After Buenos Aires with it’s big city life as well as Bolivia and Peru, trekking the ancient architectural wonders, Pampa Linda,“Beautiful Place” is a place to relax.
As Pampa Linda is deep in the Nahuel Huapi National Park (as well as the fact that the road in and out is one way in the morning (in) and the other way (out)after 4.00pm), as there is no regular transport, we take a tour to Cerro Tronador.”Mount Thunder”
Hosteria Pampa Linda........ In 1907 a Belgian Doctor, Dr Jose Vereertbrugghen, came to the Bariloche from Canada together with his wife and son Benito. In 1912 his son, Don Ben searching for grazing land settled down on the shores of Largo Mascardi. With the cows moving up the valley a path orgininated and in 1920 he reached Pampa Linda and established a station. A keen bushman he traveled to Cerro Tronador and, as you could in those days, just found a patch of land and made a home raising cattle. He was also an enthusiastic fisherman, so he alonjg with his wife Clara Runge built a fishing lodge Hotel Trondador on the shores of lake, which the guests would travel to by boat. The lodge, is open for the summer, spring and autumn. Don Ben moved back to Bariloche and left his son Jose to look after Hotel Tronador and his other son Andy to run Pama Linda with the origonal lodge built in 1947. Declared a National Park in 1934 “Nahuel Huapi National Park”, The oldest in Argentina, surrounding Lake Nauhuel Huapi in the foothills of Patagonia, the origional setllers could stay but eventually they had to make their business more ecco friendly........
Pampa Linda is not quite out of this world, but definitely far from the madding crowd.
It is a busy place when the park day trippers stop for lunch, but once they leave, it is ours and the place becomes just so peaceful and quiet....... the only sounds are those of the birds and the farm animals and the mountain. The farm still has cows, horses and chickens....the cows for the milk, the horses for tourists to take out on treks and the chickens for their eggs (only for the house guests, not for commercial sale).
Our room has, yes, “a view to die for”. I can lie in bed and look directly at Cerro Tronador, a snow covered mountain that got it’s name from the constant thundering sound produced when the snow and ice avalanches.
There are eight glaciers formed on this mountain, four of which flow into Argentina and the others into Chile. The border between these two countries runs through the mountain.
There are many walks and horse trails around Pampa Linda, and the first walk we try is to the base of Cerro Tronador and the Cascada Garganta Diablo (the Black Glacier)
This gets it’s name because when the snow and ice mix with sediment, the result is black ice which then calves into the Rio Manso and runs down into lake .The water of Rio Manso is coloured with this sediment. It is quite spectacular seeing black icebergs floating away from the glacier. Cerro Tronador is a simply stunning mountain, one of those views that never disappoints.....that is of course if you have weather like we have.......yes we are still blessed. On our arrival the guide tells us that it is the first clear day in two months.
Dinner finished, we retire to the guests lounge... fire glowing, glass of wine for Pam, coffee for me............ Pam reads and I study the tracks for tomorrow. It doesn’t get much better. The next day it is a packed lunch and we are off for an eight hour trek to the Castano Overa Glacier, another of Cerro Tronodor’s glaciers. A glorious walk, starting alongside the Rio Castano Overa before climbing up the track to Refusgio Otto Meiling.
Today is another day with fabulous weather. The sky is clear and blue and the air so fresh with only a slight chill to contend with........... The sounds are wonderful - you know, running water, wind in the tree tops, birds and the occasional thunder clap as another wee avalanche is launched over one of the mountain’s edges.
Four hours later we break through the canopy and in front of us is another magnificent view of “Mt Thunder”. This time it’s a tall waterfall...the water cascading down as it starts the river. A better place for a picnic lunch would be hard to find...just us, the mountain and a cheese sandwich......yep! life is good.
The walk back is just as interesting as the walk up....it is funny how when you walk back over ground that you have already covered, you see so many different things
We have booked horse riding for tomorrow. Sleep is easy to come, as I am at ease with everything. Our waitress Victoria joins us for the ride today, she is from Uruguay where she once managed a farm, so she loves riding horses. We are also joined by a local cowboy, who has a couple of packhorses loaded with stores for one of the refugio’s. They are preparing for the summer.
In file we are off following the path we took yesterday until we had to cross the river.
My horse a little hesitant at first....why wouldn’t you be - that water is cold. We have three dogs along as well, one black bitch, a rough white dog with one black eye and the last one that is a bit wolf like.....these guys head straight in and across, they know the way.
I am just thinking that this is an easy way to travel when my horse, for a reason known only to him, breaks into an unexpected trot.
These are sure footed horses. We cross rocky ground, up and down river banks with many crossings, climbing all the way until we reach a small opening in the trees..........
Watching the black dog jump across the rocks, while the white one just lies in the sun is entertaining. The black dog is a little shy and it takes me a while to draw her to me......some food helps. Soon she is taking food from my hand and not jumping when I move............... Just like yesterday the views and bush ...a joy.
The ride back is more fun as you try and find a spot that doesn’t hurt. We arrive back late afternoon....a really good day in the woods.
Our all too short stay at Pampa Linda is coming to an end. Linda Patricia, great granddaughter of the good Dr. Vereetbrugghen has a chat to us in the lounge about the life here. She home schools her children and only leaves the Hosteria in the deep winter. Then she heads for the “busy place”, her words for Bariloche. A loverly, quiet, calm lady. It must be the place that does this as I am feeling so contented.
I finish here with a short but hard two hour walk up to Mirador del Valle, a lookout with a stunning view of the mountains and valley of Pampa Linda
Our last night in Bariloche we stay in town at the Hotel Marianas. Enjoy our secound fondu, the first (best) in Quito, some more chocolate, icecream and a walk....tomorrow we do the lake crossing to Chile.
Lake Crossing, Puerto Montt, Navimag..Chile
The lake crossing with Patagonia Cruises is a trip in it’s self. It takes all day and starts early in Bariloche with a bus trip following the Largo Nathuel Huapi for about 25 km to Puerto Panuelo. From there we are on a boat across Largo Nathuel Huapi to Puerto Best a strange twin hull contraption. The cabin area rides atop a skelital framework, hand feeding sea gulls all the way. We take a bus to Puerto Alegre, before another boat. This time, a short trip on Largo Frias.....all the while viewing Cerro Tronador
The last and most beautiful of the volcanos is Volcano Osorno, a mountain to rival Mt. Fuji in Japan. On a bus again for the last stop before our final destination is Puerto Varas on the shores of Largo Llan Quihue. This looks like a great place to stay. Finally, a wee bus ride and we are in Puerto Montt. One whole day of awesome scenery topped off by seeing the Chilean terror Puyehue Volcano blow more ash to drift across the border to Bariloche.
Our Hotel, Club President is right on the waterfront that is the Pacific Ocean
Tonights meal is taken in a very local cafe........Plenty of meat and fat and cheese. Must keep the cold away......all good.
Our secound day in Puerto Montt is spent walking around. Unfortunately I have not research this are enough and we will find what we missed when we leave.... Still there is is a nice fishermans market where we enjoy fresh fish and friendly banter with the stall owner......Our Puerto Montt visit finished with a really nice evening meal at the Yacht Club....only problem was that there was a school final at the same time...... the ambience was lost with all the young posing for photos and the like.
Navimag.........Sailing the Patagonia Fiords.
The Navimag is a ferry that travels from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales, with one stop at Puerto Eden. Our ship Ferry Evangelistas started it’s life as a cargo ferry built in Japan in 1976. After a refit in 2001 where cabins, a bar and a cafe were added it started to take passengers
The trip takes four days, with one day only in open ocean. This is a beautiful and fascinating journey.......... We will sail through majestic landscapes, such as Gulf of Ancud, Reloncaví Inlet, Moraleda Channel, Gulf of Corcovado and the great spectacle offered by the fall in the Coastal Range in Taitao Peninsula.
There is an onboard program of lectures and films - generally wildlife documentaries - and talks.
The stop at Puerto Eden where the last of the Kaweskar people mainly fisherman welcome us allows for a short walk through this village of about 150 people.
We pass the wreck of the Greek ship “MV Capitan Leonidas” in the Chilenishe Fjorde,Messier Channel opposite Williams Island. The ship went aground in 1963, The Captain tried to sink the ship for the insurance. He failed on both counts and lost his licence and spent time in jail.
After Puerto Eden, the Captain Eledoro Barria Garcia detoured our ship, sailing to the “Pio XI Galcier” (Pope Pius XI glacier). The scenery, very dramatic, seals or sea lions playing in the water or lazing on ice flows, plenty of icebergs floating away from the glacier wall.The Captain takes the ship closer, maneuvering to within 200m of the glacier. The Pio XI glacier is the largest in South America.
I spend much of my time looking for whales, dolphins, albatrosses or any other sea creatures that may be found in these waters......a very relaxing trip.
The trip through the Patagonian Fiords finishes at Puerto Natales. It is from here that we head into the Torres del Paine National Park.