After lake crossing through the Andes on both the Chilean and Argentinian lake district, we started our 7 day drive from Bariloche to El Calafate, Argentina, on the most scenic Ruta 40, over 5,000km long. Especially for those interested, it’s the South American version of Route 66 in the US. After scouring the world wide web for tour companies that specialized in Private Tour Patagonia drives, we chose to go with http://www.tierraspatagonicas.com, who not only did a fanstastic job driving us over 3,000 kms from Argentina to Chile and back to Argentina, Jose, our tour guide(also driver and owner of the company) was an ardent nature lover.
Drive 1: Bariloche (Rio Negro Province) to Esquel (Chubut Province).
Total Distance: 300 km (paved road)
Along the way, we stopped by El Bolson in the Rio Negro Province, a mellow village known for it’s milder climate, for lunch. Not before we ran into a routine police check up two hours into the journey. In the 70s, German immigrants and hippies from Buenos Aires settled here looking for tranquility or a place to hide. Well, apart from the most popular cities in Patagonia, most of the villages at the foothills of the snow-streaked Andes are untouched by mass tourism. The only problem is that there is too much to choose from supposing you do not encounter someone who’s on the run.
Before heading into Esquel, we drove into Los Alerces National Park, 50 kms away from our destination and trekked along Lago Verde, surrounded by lush forests of Alerce trees, the second longest living trees on EARTH. We crossed over a small river on the suspension bridge and meandered through the tracks in the peace of nature at the height of the low season. The sound of nature was streaming in the background while we observed subtle pleasures of our surroundings. Slowly, the river gurgles toned down. We made it to the most panoramic view of Lago Verdewhere, the quietest nook in the park. In the late 17th Century, most Welsh immigrants settled in the Chubut Province. They peacefully co-existed with native tribes which mirrors the serenity and calmness that still lingers in the air.
We arrived in Esquel 11 hours later and checked into Hosteria El Coiron before heading out for a big steak dinner. Oh the juice!