I really enjoyed last night – Dave I knew from before 2012 when I had met him in his workshop on the Gold Coast, and I feel as though I know Ross because we have been talking about this trip for some time. Few beers, a decent meal, and some good company – What more can anyone ask for on an evening in the middle of Patagonia ? I was late to sleep as I was trying to get my blog done while I had decent wifi in the hotel, but I still woke up early and after a shower went down to check on Ross who was working on his fuel problem before they went any further. We had a slow breakfast, then slowly packed the cars and got ready to head out for the day – The MG’s heading north up to Bariloche where I was a week or so ago, and me heading west back to Chile so I could continue my journey down the Carretera Austral. I had enough of dirt roads yesterday, so I decided to go back on the “main” road, through Chile Chico.
Once every one was packed up, it was a procession down the main street for a couple of hundred yards, to the panaderia (bakery) so they could get something to munch on during their journey. After a few photos, they took off, and I headed in the opposite direction. Did I have a bit of an urge to follow them and join up with them for a while ? Sure I did – Doesn’t matter what car you are in, the fun of doing a trip, whether for one day or 6 months, with a group of like minded people, is addictive, and there is no doubt I miss it. Maybe one day in the future……!!!
After half an hour on the same kind of boring straight road as yesterday, I thought I spied water ahead – Yes, there it was – The very dramatic blue of Lago Buenos Aires. At least, that is what it is called in Argentina. This massive lake is shared with Chile, where it is called Lago General Carrera, and is a “wind-swept green-blue sea in the middle of the sculpted Patagonian steppe”. I actually stopped on the shore to make a cup of tea for the day and have some cereal – The hotel breakfast hadn’t been very good. But the ever-present Patagonian wind, even at 9.30 am, was so strong that it was hard to find shelter from it – I ended up back up under a bush, with the nose of the car facing into the wind. The lake was pretty rough, with big white caps, whipped up by the wind.
As I followed the road on round beside the lake towards the Chilean border, snow capped peaks with the distinctive jagged Patagonian outline against the sky started to re-appear on the far side of the lake, and that put a big smile on my face. I was at the Argentinian border by 10.40, out again by 10.55, and then drove round the no-man’s land loop to the Chilean border post. This took a bit longer as there was a procession of locals in front of me, together with all their families, and I learned later they were crossing the border for a funeral. So it took a while to get through the line, but once I did, and the car had been inspected (they took all my veggies and cheese and meat again even though I had been in Argentina less than 24 hours and had bought everything in Chile and had a receipt – Grrr), I was off into Chile again.
I drove into the little town of Chile Chico looking for a supermarket to replace my foodstuffs, but both markets in the town were terrible – Almost the worst I have seen all trip. The veggies were either non-existent, or rotting on the shelves. The lettuces were just slimy balls, and there was a very limited choice of anything. I left with 3 tomatoes that were very ripe, a packet of odd looking cheese, and a six pack of dark beer !! 100 yards further up I found another market, but they weren’t much better. Once again I found a couple of things, and bought them reluctantly not knowing where the next shop might be, and wanting some lunch ! Hmmm. Not very impressed with Chile Chico. Then to make me feel worse, not 100 yards out of town, the road went back to dirt again ! And not good dirt – A lot of corrugations which I HATE with a passion. With all the gear I have in Troopie, rough roads cause a lot of rattling and banging, even with all the padding I use when packing, but corrugations make it 10 time worse. Even when I take my hearing aids out !!!
But the scenery made up for it – Have to say it might even have been the most dramatic days scenery so far, which is saying a lot, but it really was a 5 Wow day. Not only were the mountains impressive, but first we passed the Lago Verde, a small bright green lake totally separate from the enormous blue Lago General Carrera (now we were in Chile) that was in the background. It was such an amazing sight I stopped there and made my lunch as best I could from my meagre supplies.
From then onwards, for about 120 kms, the dirt road wound along side the shores of the big lake, sometimes high above it, other times right down beside it. Massive cliffs over hang the road on the left, and there were several fresh rock falls in the middle of the road that I had to negotiate around – One of them had some quite large boulders, which was a bit scary. And all the time, there was a procession of snowcapped and jagged peaks on the other (northwestern) side of the lake, with heights varying from 1000 to 4000 metres. The area to the west is a massive ice field – Campo de Hielo San Valentin – and there are 8 or more glaciers feeding down off that ice field, with their melt waters eventually flowing down into the Lake.
As usual, the photos just do not really show what it was like – Even when I was driving along, I was speechless. And I can’t really describe it adequately now – So probably best if I just let the photo do the talking. There are quite a few, but I can assure you I have deleted so many more.
After a couple of hours of pootling along, and stopping frequently to admire the scenery, we cut inland a bit and for about 15 minutes suddenly went into a heavily wooded section that was so completely different from the last couple of hours. But then when we came out by the lake again, this only served to make the whole thing even more dramatic.
After another hour or so I was getting tired – I had been up late last night and early this morning, so I was pleased to find a gorgeous lodge on the shores of the lake that allowed me to camp up in the trees overlooking the lake. It couldn’t be nicer at the end of a great day.
Now, if I can just make their internet work for me so I can download this lot, it will just round off everything nicely.
Pics are here :- https://picasaweb.google.com/117739775480775657932/0190PeritoMorenoToLagoGeneralCarrera?authkey=Gv1sRgCPDlrMSxhciDAQ#