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Published: April 23rd 2008
And so after a more than pleasant extended stay in the city of Mendoza it was time to head off into the country side, this time for a spot of camping. Our destination was a small town in the heart of the the Argentine Lake district which is famed for, wait for it, lakes.
We arrived in the lovely town of San Martin de los Andes which sits at the end of a huge lake called Lake Lacar (Lago Lacar), set in a valley surrounded by huge rocky mountains. Though out of town, the campsite was perfect. It was in a small wood right on the shore of the gorgeous lake and overlooking a lovely pebble beach, with a nice wee river running by. Decent facilities as well. We pitched our tent (only slightly better than we had done in Mendoza) and hey presto, we were camping in the Argentine lake district. Being a Sunday when everything closes we decided not to bother heading into town and settled for a relaxing day on the lakeside with a steeming pot of noodles freshly cooked by our wee stove. Yummy.
That evening we were treated to something new for both of
us, a midnight wander down to the beach and out of the woods opened up the sky above us and oh what a sight presented itself. We agree that the stars in Scotland are great, or in Greece as well, but the spectacular array of sparkling stars which litterally blanketed the sky was breathtaking. A most romantic moment, not to mention the slightly comical realisation that all the constelations were upside down. We stood transfixed, gazing up for some considerable time.
As dawn broke we were greeted by a another previously unknown experience, the chitter chatter of a flock of parrots which had decended on the woods to eat their breakfast, up in the low tree tops. This allowed us to gawk at them straining our necks at our leisure and provided yet another up close and personal encounter with some fab wildlife. Squawk.
Perhaps now is as good a time as any to mention the dog problem which is oh so prevelent in south America. Everywhere you go, every city, town and village has a population of stray dogs. Some places are better than others as you can imagine. It is the same story at the campsites
The beach next to our campsite
wherever you go, dogs know campsites mean food and there are strays at most of them. They are usually friendly enough though, and take heed if you shoo them away. There was a running fued between the owned dogs accross the river and the strays who live on our campsite, each morning they would bark furiously at each other and occassionaly even bound accross the water to engage in what can only be described as a spot of fisty cuffs, most entertaining. By far our favorite strays are of course cats, who are only slightly outnumbered by dogs. Here however there was a huge population of them and they made constant nuisance of themselves, but given how sweet they looked we can forgive them.
San Martin de los Andes itself is a really picturesque place, all the houses are of an alpine style built with fine wood. It is set on the lake shore with a fine beach. The streets were lined with nice trees and there were countless outdoor shops. There was also loads of great restaurants and cafes to chose from. It has a real ski resort sort of feel, but felt a tad too touristy for
Karen at the Mirador
It was a little bit windy
The next day we hiked high up over the town into the mountains in search of a look out point accross another great lake. The hike took us through a forest right up and over into the next valley. Here we met the local Mapuche tribe, who live on their own land here in a self contained community. It was a tad breezy and there was a chill in the air so we didn't linger long before heading up towards the summit and the promised view point. As we neared the top it started to rain and the wind picked up, which was a shame as the view was magnificent, a huge lake spread far into the distance set once again between high mountain peaks. It was well worth the effort even if the weather was not too favorable.
As the day wore on and we arrived back in SM de los Andes it was now raining heavily and we decided rather than head back to the tent we would sample the local foder, we picked a nice looking joint for a spot of dinner and opted once again for the steak. Well it was good, big,
and tasty but still no better than the Brazilan fellow we sampled oh so long ago. The search goes on... During dinner we were dreading the prospect of getting back to a water logged tent but to our relief our wee home was all present and correct. Still, that night we were buffeted by strong gales and more rain. Upon checking the forcast for the coming week it was to get even worse so we made the dissapointing decision to book a few nights in a hostel. So the next few days passed pleasantly by with such activities as catching up on our blog, taking in a movie at the local cinema, and sampling hot chocolate in one of the many local cafes.
We next set off for the small village of Villa Angostura, which is set right on the banks of the huge Nahuel Huapi Lake. The campsite we chose here was fab, set in thick woods with fantastic facilities as they were newly built. The next day we were rather dissapointed when we tried to go treking in the near by National Park Arrayanes, famed for its forest of Myrtles, we found it was closed for the
next couple of days due to high winds and bad weather. Pah, didn't they realise we are Scottish! We consoled ourselves with a smaller walk to another wee lake called Lago Verde which as the name suggests was indeed a deep shade of green.
As you may have gathered the weather was not too impressive and that night after munching down our Minnestrone soup we were absolutely battered by intensive and heavy rain. Well as we were in the lake district we should not have been surprised by the small lake which now formed around our tent, we were dangerously close to having to up sticks and move when the rains abated and the water (which we could actually feel under the tent) subsided. Phew, all part of the fun eh! We did manage one dry night here and had ourselves a roaring fire and a nice wee ginganguly.
So after around a week in and around the famed seven lakes area of the Argentine lake district it was time to move on. The scenery was fantastic, the hikes we managed were exhilarating, but unfortunately the weather was just not with us. We left with fond memories and
the usual promises to return again in the future.
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