Published: January 22nd 2012July 31st 2011
Road Trip!! Driving the seven lakes... Conduciendo los siete lagos...
A day trip from San Carlos de Bariloche is a lovely town called San Martin de Los Andes, however this blog is more about the journey to San Martin rather than the destination. From Bariloche, we hired a car for the day. We set off early in the morning, driving around the shores of Nahuel Huapi lake towards the road heading out of town. The roads were icy and we had to be careful, especially after we passed a couple of cars that had skidded off the road.
Fiona took the wheel first having driven about a year ago, as opposed to my gap of three years. Add to that driving on the opposite side to what we were used to and we were slightly nervous drivers, but we knew the scenery would be worth it! We drove all the way to Villa Angostura and sure enough, it was stunning. Constantly surrounded by snowy peaks and ice blue lakes, snow sprinkled trees and wide open spaces. It was breathtaking and beautiful. We arrive at Villa Angostura in time for lunch and it was very quiet.
Sadly this area was badly hit by the ash from the volcano in Chile and the effects were obvious. The pavements were lined with piles of ash, and every leaf or berry on the trees had a grey dusty coating. The air was dusty with ash, and people were still shoveling endless ash from their properties or shopfronts. What's even sadder is that it will take a long time to clear, with a lot of manual effort. A sad story that might take a long time to find its happy ending. I had not realized the extent of the damage until I had seen it first hand. The restaurant that served us ciervo on a cold winter's day welcomed our custom. From Villa Angostura, I took over the driving and finished the journey to San Martin de Los Andes. We drove past beautiful lakes including Lake Espejo (mirror), Lake Faulkner, Lake Hermosa (beautiful) and more, all with azure blue waters and surrounded by snow capped trees, a picture of winter beauty. The roads were winding round the lakes and through the mountain scenery and made it a very memorable drive all the way. Every corner provided us with a new
vista and there were plenty of opportunities to stop the car and appreciate it further.
San Martin was lovely. A town surrounded by mountains, dotted with shops and cafes and situated by the lake. It was a nice place to end our drive, stretch our legs and wander before the drive back to Bariloche on supposedly a more direct route. As we left San Martin de los Andes it began to snow, and beautiful as it was, it didn't create optimal driving conditions that's for sure. With Fiona back in the driving seat, we headed out of town for the highway to Bariloche.
However, 'highway' did not really have the same meaning in Argentina and a one lane winding path with no lights was not what we'd had in mind. There were hares running in the snow, and wild horses blocking the way - thank goodness for full beam headlights. It was actually very mystical to watch a white horse climb up a snowy bank in the middle of the darkness. Our little car made it through the bumps and snow and twists and turns with expert driving skills from Fiona. I was lucky
that when I took over the slightly stressful drive home, there wasn't much more of the difficult conditions to endure. Eventually it did turn into a proper highway and we were relieved to see street lights and more than one lane. Oddly enough, we hadn't seen a single car on our whole journey until we joined this more major road. It certainly was an adventure and the one and only CD we purchased in San Martin de Los Andes that was played on 'repeat' on the journey back will always bring me fond memories of that day!
Back in Bariloche after one amazing road trip! What a day!! A lot of driving but 100% worth it and highly memorable. A scenic journey and a 'must-do' if you have the time and enjoy driving in beautiful places!
There are more photos below