our few days in Pucon featured more rain than we have seen since Colombia many months ago, but we were able to identify an excellent route heading south from there, passing through Parque Nacional Villarica.
Volcán Villarica from Pucon, 2847m
... heading out on dirt roads up towards the park, deep beautiful forest...
Buff-Necked Ibis, very common in Patagonia
you don´t see this on the Argentina side
wacky beetle that Greg encountered along this route (photo Greg Altman)
capitalist greenwashing alive and well in Chile. So, we´ll buy up virgin and near-virgin forest, carve it up into lots, build high-impact roads and various accesses to it, sell it at ridiculous prices, and call it a protected and conserved area.
... just after entering the park, we embarked on a 9km old jeep track ride that was one of the best, and roughest, of the whole trip..
¨Dear Visitor, this road is in very bad conditions; don´t continue towards Coñaripe¨. Yeh, whatever. (photo Greg Altman)
groovy trail through wet bamboo and decidious forest
... we did have to push alot...
totally worth it though
especially when we entered the Monkey Puzzle forests!
Monkey Puzzles and mist
definitely some of the coolest trees on the planet
(photo Greg Altman)
Greg and Tom clowning around on the trail. We left the bikes near the road and headed out on a several kilometer hike up to the Pichillancahue Glacier on the slopes of the volcano.
this Monkey Puzzle is blooming
a view of the summit from near the glacier
looking back down the slopes over amazing scenery
we explored the terminal moraine of the glacier for awhile...
ice bridges and freezing cold streams
curious gaps in the moraine. Greg called this an Ice Shrine to Yoni.
... more Monkey Puzzle moments on the descent...
whitish bark and flaming cones
dusk in the forest
we camped in the Monkey Puzzle forest- this fire is Toms work.
Patagonia's Black Woodpecker, (male left, female right) several of which were active in our camp area in the morning
the day started on this amazing old abandoned jeep track in the national park
we didn't see anything like this in Argentina
now out of the park, a look up at the summit
humitas, a gift from a friendly lady in Coñaripe
some tough climbing here
dust, traffic, and big dangerous log trucks on steep tight curves. We ran into a German cyclist going the other direction here.
...Southern Caracara, very common in these areas...
crossing the huge Rio Quilmo
looking back at Villarrica from a distance
late afternoon climbing on a great dirt road
arrived at Lago Neltume, the less-than-clear skies are a result of the eruptions of the volcano Puyehue (Chile) south of here
Tom tried his hand at fishing here, no luck
the morning here was sublime, camped on the edge of Lago Neltume, with lots of birdlife...
foreground: Great Grebe; background: cormorants
we made fresh mint tea here from lakeside herbs, with some Doug fir needles thrown in
...in Puerto Fuy (backed by the huge twin stratovolcano Mosho-Choshuenco at 2420m) , we waited for the ferry to take us towards the border at Huahum...
Lago Pirihueico at Puerto Fuy
La Barcasa, the ferry which runs on Lago Pirihueico
... incredible natural beauty nearing the Argentinian border...
bizarre Roman cultural relics here in the middle of nowhere
the border at Huahum, one of the the lowest passes in the Andes at 659m
... in Argentina, some cool forest riding to welcome us back...
Argentine gendarmeria (border police) truck
we cycled along a very hazy Lago Lácar, hazy due to Puyehue eruptions. These eruptions began on June 4, 2011, and since then have belched over 100 million tons of ash, sand, and pumice into the air! Most of it has blown eastwards over western Argentina...
Cerro Colorado in the background
San Martín de los Andes as seen from above, and before a rollicking dirt descent
wicker sales in San Martín de los Andes (photo Greg Altman)
From San Martín we headed out along the very famous 7 Lakes Road, which leads towards Bariloche further south...
Lácar Lake, just after San Martín
some rolling hills navigating the lakes road
a popular cycling route, we met several Argentine cyclists here
Tom working on broken spokes
the beautiful Lago Villarino
the first part of the 7 Lakes Road had been pavement, the second part was all dirt
...Lago Correntoso in early morning...
some of the now-infamous Puyehue ash mounded up along the route.
Lago Espejo covered by a disturbing film of Puyehue volcanic ash
Lago Nahuel Huapi (photo Greg Altman)
Lago Nahuel Huapi is huge, and backed by terrific scenery (photo Greg Altman)
El Tronador, 3491 m, a definitive peak of this area
Bariloche as seen from above, sprawling along the southeast shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi
reconnecting with Hwy 40 for a spell, we had flashbacks to barren desert cycling on the last 20km into Bariloche
arrived in San Carlos de Bariloche, an important commercial and tourist center in Argentinian Patagonia. The plan is to stay here for nearly a week and relax and organize ourselves for points further south...
in Bariloche we were welcomed by Fede and Agus, two Argentinian friends of ours whom we had met in Huaraz, Peru, six months previous...
this beautiful plate of oven-roasted vegetables was prepared by Agustina!! For us, nothing less than ambrosia...
Bariloche was to be quite the meeting place. Here Greg and Jeff are flanking Santiago Ugolini, ex-flatmate of Jeff's from Barcelona (2008-9). Santiago is from near Mar del Plata, Argentina.
full moon rise over Lago Nahuel Huapi
one of Argentina's premier charango players at a cultural festival in Bariloche
somehow, Bariloche managed to whore itself to such a level that McDonald's is advertised on all its street signs. BOO!
later that evening, we stumbled upon this wonderful wall art, a sort-of-antidote to the last photo
...chilling on Playa Bonita near Bariloche...
at Fede and Agus' flat we jammed a lot of music... some folk music, some latin folk, some reggae, some rock.
L-R: Jeff, Santiago, Fede, Anita (friend from Germany), Tom, Agus, Greg
the next appearance in Bariloche was a brief one, by Stephane, our French travelling friend last seen in La Paz, Bolivia some months ago. (Pictured left to right: Santiago, Tom, Stephane, Romina - Argentine friend of Stephane's, and Greg). Here we are having coffee and chocolates at the Rapa Ñui chocolatería in Bariloche.
Bariloche is famous for its chocolates, deservedly so. Pictured here is a chocolate/almond pastry eaten at Rapa Ñui.
almost full moon over Lago Nahuel Huapi
Agus and Greg
As Fede and Agus also play guitar, we filled the flat with lots of strings and music, making our Bariloche stay unforgettable.