Friday, 13 March 2015

0228 El Condor to Villa Ventana

13th March
Parrots, straight roads, and floods !!

Nice sunny morning – But the wind was blowing hard again, which made it quite cool.  Thought there was a familiar sound in the trees – Not only do we have parrots round here, but the entire camp site was full of gum trees !!  It was also Friday the 13th – For the second time in two months !  Let’s hope I get through this one unscathed like I got through the one last month ! When I left I went for a drive up to the end of the road, along the beach, and the wind was blowing so much sand off the beach that I couldn’t even open my window without getting an eye full.  And the big Rio Negro empties out into the sea here – I couldn’t work out why the sea was brown – I was to find out later !

I also found out about the parrots I had seen last night – they are “Burrowing parrots”, and this is the largest colony of parrots in the world – 35,000 active nests – presume that means 70,000 birds ?  Anyway, it explains what I saw last night !

Turning away from the windswept beach I headed back to Viedma where I could get back onto Ruta 3, headed north.  Got
fuel in Viedma before heading out into the pampas, and then crossed a sizeable bridge over the Rio Negro which incorporated rail as well as two way traffic. Would be interesting to see what happens when a train comes !!

I then spent the next 5 hours driving almost due north up to Bahia Blanca – Not a lot to say about the road – Until I found a cop car following me with his lights flashing and I though Uh oh – What have I done ?  I wasn’t speeding, my lights were on – Maybe he just decided he wanted to meet me ?  Suddenly I see traffic on the road ahead – A truck had jacknifed and gone of the road – Seemingly everything is still upright, just not looking too happy.  With relief the cop stops at the incident – It wasn’t me he was after at all !!

From Bahia Blanca I turned off Ruta 3 which now turned east, and kept going north on Ruta 33, towards the Parque Provincial Ernesto Tornquist.  I had read that there were some reasonable mountains in here, and some good hikes, so I thought I would investigate.  Sure enough, once I was on Ruta 33 I saw hills ahead in the distance – A lovely sight after so much flat recently.  The sky was
getting a bit more overcast, and the roads were quite wet, so I deduced they had had some rain recently.  When I turned into the Provincial Park and the camp site at which I proposed to stay, I was faced with a river crossing – A deep one !  When I got out to inspect it, it was not only a lot deeper than I liked, but also there was quite a lot of the crossing washed away.  Being on my own, I decided not to risk it, and headed on down the road – But I could tell from the flattened bushes and grasses alongside the river that there had been a major flood here in the last day or so.  And that started to explain why the sea down at El Condor this morning was so brown – The Rio Negro was bringing down all the run off from the mountains from heavy rains, with all the silt that ensues. 

I kept on through the Park seeing ongoing evidence of heavy rain, and eventually reached a little town called Villa Ventana.  The road into the town was also pretty much washed away by floodwaters, but I got through and found out from the information centre that they had had major flooding, and in fact the park, and its campsite, are closed until further notice because so much damage has been caused.  Hmmmm.

Drove up through the little town to the camp site, and as all the streets are dirt, there are major gullies and washouts in the roads everywhere.  To get into the camp site I had to cross a bridge over another little river, and not only was there a lot of grass tangled up in the bridge, but all the hand railings on one side were bent over from the force of floodwater.  When I went into the camp
site it was sodden, but usable, and once I was set up I spoke to some of the locals here and it happened two days ago, and rained solidly for a whole day and night.  The river not only rose all the way up its banks, but a lot of rain water rain down the sloping camp site turning everything into mush. 

I guess my hike planned for tomorrow has been cancelled – Shame as it sounded like a great one up through the park – About 5 hours.  So I will have to decide where to go instead.  Back to the maps tomorrow.

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