Lounging in the Lake District -- Northern Patagonia, Argentina (& Chile)

February 19 - March 9, 2007




Hiking Parque Nacional Nahuel Haupi just outside Bariloche.



We caught a flight from Buenos Aires to Bariloche, on the Argentine side of the Andes in northern Patagonia, for a rendezvous with friends who were driving south from Mendoza. At first it seemed like a mirage, seeing our good friends Agnes and Mike strolling up the walkway beside the Lago Nahuel Huapi in Villa Angostura, way down here in the mountains of South America. But after a few minutes together it felt totally natural, as if we had just said goodbye back in Alameda a few days ago. Time and distance have a way of expanding and contracting depending on your state of mind, and in this case we suddenly felt like we were back home again with our compañeros.

We spent a week together telling stories, enjoying wonderful meals, and walking mountain trails, while Mike continued his quest for the perfect fly fishing stream and Agnes knitted a beautiful black and white tam (named zone system) and a brilliant scarf.



Villa Angostura is an hour and a half drive from Bariloche, along the 100 kilometer Lake Nahuel Haupi. It's a tranquil place, adjacent to the Parque Nacional Arrayanes, a long thin peninsula named for the smooth red-bark Arrayan trees found there. We rode the boat out to the peninsula's tip and walked the 13km trail back to Angostura through forests of Arrayan and Southern Beach with the sound of the large Magellanic Woodpeckers (carpeneria's) hammering in the distance.




Then we spent four wonderful days at the Hosteria Pampa Linda, at the base of thundering Mount Tronador, whose glaciers crash and crack day and night. For much of our stay, we had the place to ourselves, with fires in "the living room" and dinners in the cavernous dining room. Nearby were hiking trails and a serene stream with small but feisty brook trout.


Celebrating a 30 year friendship!


Arco iris, another storm passes Pampa Linda.

Tronador icefall.

Orion and moonlight over Monte Tronador.




One of the odd things about this part of the Andes is how familiar it feels. We keep having to remind ourselves that we are indeed in South America and not in Alaska or Oregon or maybe somewhere in New Zealand. With green forests, lakes, and granite mountains interspersed with conical volcanoes, we have a sense of deja vu every time we hike around the next bend or drive over the next pass. Mike kept feeling he was back in New Zealand. Indeed, in the distant past New Zealand and Tasmania were joined with what is now South America. There are still many common species, such as extensive deciduous southern beach forests. Then again, there are many un-common species. Thickets of impenetrable bamboo make it almost impossible to thrash your way to the perfect fly-fishing spot, that illusive pool just around the next bend.




All too soon our dear friends hopped into their tiny VW Gol, heading south for more fly-fishing-knitting adventures. We hopped into our tiny VW Gol, heading north on a long loop through Junin de los Andes, past Volcan Lanin, land of monkey puzzle trees, guanacos, and condors, who were nesting in the cliff sides and wheeling high overhead. We crossed over the Andes to Chile, where we spent a few days in Pucon, another beautiful lake-filled hiker's paradise. A magnificent drive on the recently paved (yeah!) Highway 215 took us again back to Bariloche, Argentina.



The largest rolling stones field!?!


We were amazed to realize we've been following Darwin's route, starting in Australia, and now in Patagonia.



Fuchsias are native to Patagonia!

A serious (palm-sized) beetle in Chile.




March 3rd, Junin de Los Andes: Shortly before sunset I noticed an email from Margie in my inbox. Eclipse alert! We went outside just as an almost totally eclipsed moon rose over the barren hills behind town in crystal clear skies. Thanks Margie!



Buenos Aires, Argentina (plane) ► Bariloche (bus) ► La Villa Angostura (bus) ► Bariloche (car) ► Pampa Linda (car) ► Junin (car) ► Pucon, Chile (car) ► Bariloche, Argentina