Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Lakes District, Argentina - Paddleboarding Legally

The Lakes District of Argentina continued to entertain and wow us as we headed south. We hiked some big peaks, and again found they were covered in a layer of deep ash due to the 2011 eruption of Volcan Puyehue. While we were hiking to a peak known as Cerro Belvedere, the wind was so strong that clouds of ash filled the distant sky. We eventually had to turn around because of the ash in our eyes and mouths. On the plus side, our faces were baby-butt smooth from the exfoliation treatment.

The view from Cerro Belvedere of a small section of  Lago Nauhuel Huapi the largest lake in the region - 60 miles long!!!

Outside of the large town of Bariloche, we drove up a long, slow, painfully pot-holed road to visit Mt. Tronador and the large glacier creeping down its slopes. It was our first glacier in South America, so we were excited to see it in action. From our camp spot, we could hear the thundering echo of the ice breaking off the glacier. At the viewpoint, we spent the entire day viewing the icebergs in the lake change shape and hoping to see/hear pieces of the glacier crash into the lake. We got a thumbs up from one of the rangers when we set up our camp chairs on a little knoll overlooking the glacier. The only time the glacier made a move was when we were eating lunch INSIDE THE TRUCK!!  We heard it, and later saw the violent-looking aftermath in the lake. DAMMIT! Pictures below.

Our camping spot below Mt. Tronador. Cheers to the best television screen nature can offer.

Our viewpoint for the entire day overlooking the Tronador glacier - the glacier is brown because of all the rocks on it's surface

Spoiler alert: now that we are in the heart of Patagonia and all of it's huge glaciers, our day at Tronador seems kind of silly. Oh well, it was still fun.

Continuing south, the town of El Bolson had been on our list for a while after we learned that it is the microbrew capital of Argentina. They grow 3/4 of all the hops IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. To say the least, we had some beers! The region boasts a warm micro climate that not only grows hops, but also abundant produce including big juicy berries of all sorts. We spent a day outside the town cooling off in the sparkling, turquoise water of the Rio Azul pictured below.

Rio Azul: This swimming hole was called "El Paraiso" (The Paradise)

Rio Azul: A contrast in temperatures.
After getting up the nerve to jump into the icy waters, I had to bake myself a bit before heading back to shore

A little further south in Alerces National Park we put our paddleboards to work - and it was legal this time! With a little foot work, we found that we could paddleboard between the lakes on crystalline, trout-choked rivers. We were so stoked when our strategy worked out the first day: we locked up the paddleboards and gear at our camping spot, drove the truck about 6 miles to the next camping spot, ran back to our paddleboards, then paddleboarded back to the truck. We repeated this process on 2 more rivers without a hitch. Pictures below.

This river was teaming with giant rainbow and brown trout

The viewpoint during our hike back to the truck: the lake and river we were about to paddleboard (we were excited!)

Scott never passes up a "jumping rock"

Swimming with the trout

Next up, back into Chile for some very impressive glaciers among other things...

1 comment:

Bernard Barbour said...

Absolutely a wonderful story with stunning photos. We are in Antigua Guatemala now and heading to Argentina. Your blog has been very helpful in us deciding on what, where and when we are going to see and do certain things. Thank you. Bernard @Tales of the Pan American Highway.