There was a “Fast Food” shop in the frontier/trekking/rafting town of Futaleufa. We ordered a quarter chicken and fries. Enough for both of us. Camping was on de lakefront. The lake has a lovely boulevard however it is not visible due to all quick growing tall young bushes. They need trimming! The night was reasonably quiet although they were testing the sound system for the next day’s performance with false singing.
The border crossing went as usual, smooth. The road was graded and not too bumpy. Surprisingly the border was not at a watershed but runs through a valley. The lake on the Argentinean side still discharges into Chile. We only drove some 114 km and then camped at a camp spot on lake Menendez in Los Alerces NP.
The road winds along the lake through a forest of large conifers. At the camp spot both Jamaliah and Rudy made a dip into the cold glacier water to cool down from the day’s drive in the sun. Freezing!!
We visited this National Park to see the large old Alerce trees. As usual with such special trees (like the Sequia’s in the US and the Kauri in New Zealand) there are not many left and you have to search for them. We went on a 1½ hr boat trip all the way to the other side of the lake to see them. There, we made a circular 2 km walk through the forest and even then only saw a few of these trees. The most impassive one was said to be 2600 years old. They grow only 1 cm in diameter every 20 years and like the Sequia has only small short branches and is an evergreen.
The night was spent at another site on a lake further up in the park. The next day we drove on to El Bolson.
This is a smaller version of the more touristic town up the road which we visited the next day. The town had a well know empanada shop which Jamaliah had to visit. We ate them at the town square in the shade of some old large trees while waiting for an e-mail with the route description to the private campsite of Klaus and Claudia. This is a German couple who have settled down in Argentina some 17 years ago after having done their bit of S. America travelling. They have a lovely farm along a small stream. We had insured our Camper via them.
It was hard to leave this idyllic and tranquil place but such is the “Overlanders” faith. We drove further up the RN 40 through forested hills and valleys towards Bariloche, the tourist capital of the region. Before coming to Bariloche we made a circular loop to visit the luxury old lodge (hotel)“Llao Llao”. This lodge was built in the 40ties for the fortunate few who visited the mountains and lakes along the Chile border. An impressive building inside and outside. We had a lovely lunch there before continuing the circular road back to town.
Because it is moving towards the end of the season Bariloche was not too overcrowded with tourists. It has some lovely streets which run parallel to the large lake Nahuel Huapi with it many side arms. The town is well-known for its chocolate shops, so you know where Jamaliah went to. The town is on all travelers lists. Hence we bumped into some Israeli hitchhikers which we had picked up the NP Torres Del Paine some 16 days ago and a French hitchhiker we picked up 3 days ago when crossing into Argentina.
Around 17:00 hrs we drove out of town and continue our way north on the RN40 (here called Ruta de 7 Lagos). The sun was still shinning when we found a secluded campsite on the lake. The local families left at sunset so we have the whole beach (all 50 m of it) to ourselves. The price we pay is a sloping camper due to the uneven slope of the beach.