7th-9th.February, Bariloche – El Bolson – Esquel
After two nights in Buenos Aires the group flew to San Carlos de Bariloche on the shores of the huge Lago Nahuel Huapi, which lies in the Andes in a national park of the same name. Here we had already covered approximately half the distance between Buenos Aires and the Southern tip of South America. The remainder of the journey would take somewhat longer since it was to be made in a minibus along the famous or rather infamous route 40 on the Eastern edge of the Andes.
On arrival the lake reminded me of Windermere in the English Lake District, perhaps because of the rough waves and grey skies. However the next morning we were greeted by blue skies and a calm lake and treated to a luxury cruise, having the whole of the lounge on the upper deck of the ship reserved for us. There were scenic views on all sides during the journey to Victoria Island where we took part in a guided walk.
The following day was even hotter and sunnier, with hardly a cloud in the sky. We drove a long way through the foothills of the Andes through two different national parks near the Chilean border. The scenery is very beautiful with several large lakes and snow covered peaks in the distance. What one notices is the absence of towns and people compared with Europe. Over lunchtime we had a barbeque beside a river and nearby we viewed a log cabin where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had lived for four years after escaping from the US marshals. Eventually the law caught up with them and they had to flee again. It is all described in Bruce Chatwin’s “In Patagonia”, which I had just read. We continued to Esquel.