Today I stood in awe of nature’s great masterpiece.
At 8:30 AM, Wes and I met our tour group, loaded the bus, and drove to Nahuel Huapi lake where we boarded a catamaran for the first leg of our journey from Argentina to Chile. The mountains loomed overhead, almost close enough to touch. Conifers climbed about 2/3 of the way up the slopes but the top 3rd was mostly rock, jagged colorful formations jutting out in all sorts of interesting ways. Usually, I am seeing shapes in the clouds; today, they were in stone. I spotted an old man slumped on his throne, a curly headed woman surrounded by her children, and a crocodile crawlingover a peak, to name just a few. Sculpture has always been my favorite art form so you can imagine my joy today as I viewed nature’s sculpture in all its magnificence! After crossing Nahuel Huapi, we took a 3 mile bus drive to get to the next lake, Lago Frías. This lake was turquoise because of the sediment from the glacial run off from the dormant Tronador Volcano. Again, an amazing ride but much shorter. Seeing the glaciers atop Tronador was definitely the highlight of our second boat ride.
When we got off the boat at Puerto Frías, we showed our passports, then once again boarded a bus to cross the Andes. Thankfully, the road is privately owned as it is a one way gravel road with no guard rails. But the views were striking. And the driver stopped twice for photo ops – once, to take pictures of a 3000 year old conifer called Fitzroya (named by Charles Darwin) which was about 200 feet tall (it’s against the law to chop these down as they are becoming extinct) and once to take pictures of the breathtaking Tronador which was much closer now. A rainbow shaped cloud bowed the top of the volcano – picture perfect!
As we left Argentina and entered Chile (leaving Nahuel Haupi National Park and entering Vicente Pėrez Rosales National Park), I began to see a change – much greener on the Chile side due to the greater amount of rain received on this side of the Andes. The mountains seemed larger too but perhaps that was because they were right on top of us! I started feeling a bit woozy as we careened around the many curves…around and around and around. Thank goodness I had carried a lot of ginger with me (great for motion sickness!). But honestly, I didn’t really mind the curves that much. The Andes are inspiring!
When we reached Peulla, we quickly went through customs, then dined in the fine Hotel Peulla restaurant on Merluza, a very tasty Chilean white fish. After lunch, we parted ways with the rest of the group since they were continuing on while we had opted to spend a night at the hotel. As it is the only hotel around, we are quite isolated here. But you should see the view from our window – mountains, mountains, and more mountains! And it’s sooooooooo quiet. I’m glad we decided to just hang out here and hike around a bit before continuing our lake crossing tomorrow. I’m savoring the moment!