It was only after seeing the film, ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ that I realized perhaps I would like to go and check the upper fringes of Patagonia. At that time, however, I did not know that this region which is full of beautiful lakes and volcanoes was where Patagonia began. So this post would be about me discovering the Lake Region of Argentina and Chile before even hearing the word Patagonia.
In the movie Motorcycle Diaries, Che Guevera and his friend in the wooden raft under a clouded sky stretch their arms and shout ‘Viva Chile’, long live Chile. This is the first time they are crossing the borders of their country, Argentina and the moment is beautiful captures in the cinema. From, Bariloche in Argentina to Puerto Varas in Chile is the journey we take every time on the South America tour, more than 70 years after Che Guevera and his friend embarked on it.
In my earlier posts I have mentioned this area but as I write now from the very lake that Che sailed on, it made sense to mention this region again. Especially as we make the crossing from Argentina to Chile over the Andes and on the lakes. The lakes that take on three different colors as we move from one to another.
The Andes are crossed from Argentina and Chile via three lakes, Nahuel Huapi and Lagos Frias in Argentina and Todos Los Santos and Lago Llanquihue in Chile. The lake crossing that happens in one single day is the biggest attraction of the lake region. After every lake comes to a road journey which takes us through the most different forest region of the world. Unlike the hot and humid Amazon, the jungles of Patagonia can be sometimes as thick as the Amazon but with temperatures lower by 35 – 40 degrees.
This only happens due to the amount of rain that this region receives from the Pacific. The rain clouds are blocked over the Andes as they pass from the west to the east and 90% of Argentinian Patagonia stays dry. However, on the other side of Chile, it rains more than 280 days a year.
Today happens to be one of the special days where the rain clouds have decided to stay away and as we enter Chile, and the mount Tronador, the tallest peak of in this part of the Andes comes in full view.
By the time we cross the border and reach the Chilean immigration, it is already past lunch time and the first touch of the Chilean fish, mostly salmon or hake can be had in Peulla, a village of fewer than 100 people and one big hotel. Everything about tourism is in this hotel as it is about the crossing of the lakes. One travel company has got a contract for I think, 200 years for cruising these waters, which make this less crowded experience. The lesser the crowds crossing in the day the more the connect one feels with the surrounding.
As we embark on the last part of the journey here in Chile and on Lagos Santos, I can once again feel the appeal of the lakes and overall of Patagonia taking over me. I don’t even want to know how many times I have been here, coz even now at some moments it feels like the first time. When I look at the people though it’s a different feeling. It feels nice to introduce them to this part of the world.
The journey from Bariloche to Puerto Varas in parts.
Part 1: Bariloche to Puerto Frias in Argentina
- Bariloche – Puerto Panuelo: 60 mins
- Sailing on Nahuel Huapi to reach Puerto Blest: 60 mins
- Puerto Blest – Puerto Alegre: 10 min
- Sailing on Lagos Frias: 20 mins
Goodbye Argentina —- Welcome to Chile
Part 2: Puerto Frias in Argentina to Puerto Varas in Chile
- Puerto Frias – Peulla: 110 mins
- Sailing on Lagos Santos: 100 mins (first sighting of Volcanoes)
- Petrohue – Puerto Varas: 90 mins, next to Lago Llanquhue.