…..wind and untamed wilderness
26.01.2017 - 29.01.2017
San Carlos di Bariloche is situated on the shore of the spectacular lake Nahuel Huapi and encircled by soaring mountain peaks. You could be forgiven for thinking that you in the Austrian or Swiss alps as the area is heavily influenced by immigrants from Germany and Switzerland evident in the chalet style buildings, fine pastry cafes and chocolate shops for which Bariloche is well known. The day was not totally lost as I registered the card losses early and then enjoyed a walk around the town, a lazy lunch and cerveza then some me time on the beach.
Before I go further I word on the cuisine. Whilst I have been looking forward to partaking in the grilled meats for which Chile and Argentina are famous I am astounded by both quality and servings; truly superb and it is hard to go past the grill menu in every restaurant, I never thought I’d say it but it soon became even too much for me! I guess the grills are the perfect accompaniment to the Carmenere and Malbec.
This morning we leave at 9am to head on Route 40 to the quiet town of Esquel 320kms due south. This town is the terminus of the legendary Patagonian Express and the riding today is easy on well paved roads. Furthermore we leave the mountains and lakes today and start to descend to the sparsely forested foothills as we head towards the real Patagonia. The less said about the pizza last night the better!
A 550k day today as we head to the distant and remote town of Perito Moreno. We have to put in some big days just to get the distance covered but the payoff was in the riding. Our first experience of the real Patagonia and what lay ahead. The foothills that surround us like crumpled blankets start to unwrap and Patagonia opens up before our eyes. The first part of the day has us bracing against a slight chill as we relish the descent and fast flowing constant radius curves before finally being assaulted by the infamous Patagonian winds for the rest of the afternoon. We arrive at Perito Merino at around 4pm having covered the distance in just eight hours inclusive of the roadworks. The picturesque village of just 3600 is surrounded by “Estancia” (cattle farms/ranches), and is also closely situated next to Lago Buenos Aries the second largest lake in South America with an area of 2240 sq./km most which belongs to Chile.
After such a long day on the bikes it wasn’t long before the dust of the day was being washed down with some perfectly chilled longnecks extending into an evening of “Parillia”, fine Argentinean Vino Tinto and side splitting humour.