Road trip to the seven lakes
During our first night we were awakened by strange noises outside our cabin. The check through the window revealed the troublemaker: A huge black cow, that made itself comfortable in the middle of our garden and ate the delicious plants! The next morning she had also left us a little surprise – a nice welcome present =) With morning light, we could hardly believe where we had landed: our house was in the middle of nature. The small cottage complex, about 3 km outside of Villa La Angostura, was surrounded by meadows, flowers, a small river and in the background the mountains - a dream setting! During breakfast, we had more four legs visitors. The huge but totally cute dog of the facility greeted us joyfully and was our faithful companion for the next few days, especially at mealtimes. After breakfast, we took advantage of the dream weather and set off for the small but very exquisite village of Villa La Angostura, which turns into a hiking paradise in summer and a skiing paradise in winter. Then it was time to see the lake - it was still Nahuel Huapi, the same huge lake we knew from Bariloche. The sun let the turquoise-blue of the water shimmer and once again, we stood a few moments there and admired the strong colors - fantastic! After a few strengthening toasts on the beach, we went off on a boat ride. With a small biker group from Buenos Aires we sailed along the coast of the Quetrihué Peninsula until we reached the "Forest of the Arrayanes" at its southernmost point. On land, we entered the national park of the same name and marveled at the orange tree giants up close. Contrary to our expectations, there was only few people , so we had the hiking trails almost to ourselves. After a round on the interpretation trail, we walked 12 km back to the port. A constant up and down led us across the peninsula and when we discovered a small hidden beach at a remote spot, the cooling in the ice-cold water was very welcoming. The sun showed up again to warm up, and we continued back to the village. The guys on the boat had given us some culinary tips, which we of course tried right away. Freshly tapped APA (American Pale Ale), some tasty Empanadas in a small Cervecería were our plan. Then we went shopping some goods; we rattled off the bakeries, vegetable stores and butchers, because in the evening we wanted to use our grill for our first asado for two. No sooner said than done and the fire was already bubbling, unfortunately with a bit of rain setting in. Our new four paws friend was there from the beginning with great joy - he knew that in the end something would be left out for him. On the menu was asado meat, peppers stuffed with egg and zucchini. As always happens with asado, we had dinner too late, but it was a complete success and the three of us ate everything until it was already past midnight.
The following day was a rain break, so we used it to organize our further trip plans, made video calls with the families and prepared a second successful asado in the evening. A day break was definitely good =) But soon it was time to move on again! In Villa La Angostura starts the legendary route of the seven lakes to San Martín de los Andes. On this dream route of about 100 km you pass (at least) seven lakes - each totally different and unique in its own way. The first stop we made was only 10 min outside the village, where a sandy beach in turquoise green water reminded us of the Caribbean. With plenty of sun and little wind, conditions were ideal for a quick morning swim in the Lago Correntoso before we spent an hour exploring it by kayak. The supposedly "smallest river in the world", between Lago Nahuel Huapi and Lago Correntoso, provided a super backdrop for a photo stop before heading further north. As soon as you are back on the road, the next fabulous view lures you to the water: Lago Espejo Grande with its sandy beach and pub just can't be missed. A short time and a bumpy road down to the lake later, we were sitting on the shore having a yummy sandwich for lunch. Marina then took the wheel of the Gaucha further along Ruta 40 with Argentine music and the best mood, while the weather changed a bit. Clouds and wind came up, but for us no reason to panic. 5 km off the route is the Lago Espejo Chico, at whose river connection the crystal clear water invites one to swim – maybe next time with more sun and less wind =) Blown by the wind we continued driving and at our next two stops at Lago Villarino and Lago Falkner we had already the sun back. While we explored the lakes in more detail at the first stops in the morning, we stopped only briefly towards the afternoon and left out some spots for the way back as well. This route simply offers so many highlights that you can't take them all in on one trip - spectacular! Out of nowhere a farm suddenly appeared in the mountains and when we saw a chicken family with many small curious chicks at the roadside, we forgot the lakes for a moment: sweet as sugar the little ones and so trusting! With some effort we lured them away from the road and back to the farm, so hopefully nothing would happen to them. At Lago Machónico, our last stop before San Martín, the sun showed itself again from its best side and we shone with it around the bet. After that we went again on the mountainous and winding road, on the last part to San Martín de los Andes. If you turn around the last bend and see Lago Lácar with the sun slowly setting, there is a great danger that you will be struck by this sight. So we had to pull over and enjoy. In the distance we could already see the small town directly at the lake, surrounded by snow-covered mountains, which mark the border to Chile. With the last rays of sunshine, we then reached our destination for the next three days, which was in contrast to the small sleepy village of Villa La Angostura a real small town in the mountains. This time we had booked in with Nora in the middle of the center and found a cozy warm heated little hut in a quiet neighborhood. Before it got dark, we explored the little town, which turns into a top ski resort in the winter. After a beer by the lake, we took hot showers and hungrily fired up the stove. With our leftovers we cooked a delicious pasta and set off late at night to a bar with live music; after all it was Friday night and soon would be Christian's birthday - Let's get the party started!
Already early in the morning birthday was celebrated extensively – we made video calls with family and friends, we blowed some candles on birthday alfajores and of course gifts were unwrapped - Thank you so much everyone - for the wonderful moments shared, all your congratulations, messages and surprises! What could be better than a hike with a picnic on your birthday? Well, that's how we spent the day! So after the calls we headed out on foot, out of town and up to Mirador Bandurrias. A great hiking trail leads up through the wooded mountain until you come to a Mapuche settlement that makes its home here. The Mapuche population still largely lives in their own areas in nature, somewhat away from towns and villages, in a form of community. Their ancestors once ruled all of Patagonia, along with several other peoples, until the arrival of the European conquerors. The eternal dispute over the land has not ended until today and probably never will. Again and again there are demonstrations and uprisings, but they are usually peaceful. After a few kilometers uphill we arrived at the Mapuche settlement, where a friendly family asked us for a few pesos to enter their territory and gave us a lot of tips and information in return. Then we continued up on small paths until we finally reached the viewpoint. Here the wind whipped up enormously from the lake and so we immediately changed clothes and almost had to hold on tight not to be blown away. The view is spectacular and you can feel the immense power of nature all over your body - breathtaking! On the other side of the mountain, you look down on San Martín de los Andes almost windless, a welcome rest after the windy adventure. After the breezy first part of the hike, we headed back to the settlement and down to a beach with a small offshore mini-island. A super spot to picnic followed by a siesta in the sun. What a birthday! Rested and strengthened, we went back to town, where we had phone reception again and we got more birthday wishes on the terrace of a pub. In the evening, culinary homeland feelings arose with spaetzle and goulash. Marina had found a typical restaurant that offered this Swabian dish as a specialty - together with a delicious Malbec, made a successful birthday feast!
After all the festivities and delicacies of the previous day, we took it much more relaxed during our last day in San Martín. With the Gaucha we went half an hour north of the city up to Lago Lolog, where we bought delicious fried empanadas at a kiosk and made ourselves comfortable at the beautiful, quiet and sandy beach "Playa Bonita" for the whole afternoon. After the extensive siesta we went back to our little hut in town and exchanged our flip-flops for walking shoes again. For just under an hour we walked up the other side of the mountain to the "Mirador Arrayanes", which offered more spectacular views of San Martín and Lago Lácar. Our host Nora had told us about an English tea house up the mountain and when we got there we didn't want to leave. An exquisite little tea hut in the middle of the mountains that, to our surprise, had only one dark canned beer on the menu in addition to 30 different teas, but offered an incredible location. So we stayed until the sun went down and started the steep way back down already in the dark. Shortly before closing time, we bought some groceries, turned on the heating in our hut and cooked up a last dinner before we tiredly fell into bed and were already thinking about the return trip to Bariloche the next day.
We started with a fully packed Gaucha and hot mate tea in the morning and on the same route as on the outward journey. All omitted lakes and spots we wanted to look at this day with enough time to enjoy them. So we turned after half an hour already to the "Lago Hermoso" and the name kept what it promised. A hidden lake in the middle of the green with a small sunny sand. The perfect breakfast place and time for a nap or a round of yoga and stretching on the beach. Strengthened and warmed by the sun, we continued and Marina visibly enjoyed the dream road with little traffic and great weather at the wheel of the Gaucha. The waterfalls "Cascadas Nivinco" were the next highlight on the route. This was the tip from the two hitchhikers we had picked up in Bariloche the previous week, and they had warned us that it was better to take a second pair of shoes with you on this hike, as there was a river to cross. Already after a few minutes we appreciated this tip very much and slurped in our flip-flops through the water. Some hikers were not prepared for this, so we lent our flip flops afterwards, a gesture that they were very grateful for =) A good hour went along the river uphill and downhill, until we heard the rippling water from far. We had seen on our trip so far already some waterfalls, but this surpassed all, especially since one could experience the natural spectacle from close range with the feet in the water. The temptation to take a dip in the ice-cold water was great, but in the end we were able to resist and enjoyed the fabulous sight from land. The way back was quickly mastered and because the weather this day was so outstanding and almost with no wind, it was quickly clear where we would make our last stop: on the beach of Lago Correntoso, which we had already liked so much on the outward journey. As soon as we arrived, we slipped into our swimming suits and off we went into the water. Were we in Patagonia or in the Caribbean? That was the question when we saw the shimmering turquoise water above the fine sandy bottom. A sensational end to our fabulous Roard trip, on which we saw far more than the announced seven lakes. With sunset we went back to the Gaucha and for 90 minutes into the dusk back to Bariloche. This time we stayed at Vanesa’s, 10 km outside the city, in a cabin in the forest and treated ourselves after arrival to a delicious pizza in the dreamlike garden kf cerveceria Berlina; at walking distance and under the starry sky- cheers and salud to a legendary Roartrip!