Saturday, October 27, 2012

Three Parks and Seven Lakes

On this leg of our trip we crossed from the lake district of Chile to that of Argentina.  We rode through three incredible national parks in the two countries and along Argentina’s famous “Seven Lakes Route”.  It wasn’t the most direct route, but the best ones rarely are.  This is what cycle touring really is about.

The road from Pucon, Chile to the border took us through Parque Nacional Villarrica along a steep and difficult, but beautiful, dirt road. 

Cycling through Parque Nacional Villarrica, Chile towards the Argentinian border.

Jenn climbing on a loose surface.

Parque Nacional Villarrica, Chile.

Near Paso Mamuil Malal.

Parque Nacional Villarrica (Chile) meets Parque Nacional Lanin (Argentina) at the border.  But we were surprised at the marked difference as we crossed the boundary between the two.  The landscape on the Chilean side was lush and green.  It was filled with lakes, rivers, and dense trees.  And then we passed the border and the landscape suddenly became more arid and dry.  The trees were more spread out and the undergrowth thinner.

Along with the landscape, there was a marked difference in the border control which showcases some of the differences between the two countries.  In Chile everything was very professional, but bureaucratic, slow and confusing.  Our documents were scrutinized and all the rules were followed.  But when we arrived at the Argentinian border post, we were greeted warmly by officers outside drinking mate (an Argentinian tea drink).  Inside the building music was blaring and the officials were busy making fun of the Chinese – Chilean family in front of us because they had given their kids Spanish names instead of Chinese ones.  There were no signs, but everyone pointed us in the right direction.  At customs the official amused himself for a few minutes by flipping through our passports and asking us about some of the countries we had visited … never bothering to check if we were carrying fruits or vegetables (good thing for us).

Cycling through Araucania (Monkey Puzzle) trees in Parque Nacional Lanin, Argentina with Volcan Lanin.

Through the border on the Argentinian side.  Volcan Lanin in the background.

Checking out the ancient and strange Araucania (Monkey Puzzle) trees in Parque Nacional Lanin, Argentina.

Parque Nacional Lanin is famous for Araucania Trees (Monkey Puzzle Trees).

Araucania (Monkey Puzzle) tree and Volcan Lanin in Parque Nacional Lanin, Argentina.

Araucania and Volcan Lanin.

After a brief stop with a wonderful family in the picturesque town of San Martin de Los Andes, we continued along the “Ruta de Siete Lagos” (Seven Lakes Road) to Villa La Angostura and Bariloche.  This is a particularly beautiful section of mostly paved road which passes seven large lakes with a backdrop of the Andes.  It’s only fitting that we show the route with seven pictures.

Pristine lakes on the Ruta de Siete Lagos, Argentina.

Lago Machonico.

Beautiful riding on the Ruta de Siete Lagos, Argentina.

Riding alongside the snowy Andes.

Waterfall in Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, Argentina.

Pretty little roadside waterfall.

Lago Villanica on the Ruta de Siete Lagos, Argentina.

Morning view from our campsite on Lago Villarino.

In Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi on the Ruta de Siete Lagos, Argentina.

Crystal clear and freezing cold.

Lago Espejo in Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi on the Ruta de Siete Lagos, Argentina.

Lago Espejo (Mirror Lake).

Campspot on Lago Nahuel Huapi, Argentina.

Camped alongside Lago Nahuel Huapi.  Jenn trying to catch dinner and a bottle of wine for a consolation prize.


Checking out Lago Escondido (Hidden Lake) in Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi near Bariloche.

And now we pass a few days in Bariloche, Argentina waiting to get Dave’s front rack welded.  It is a beautiful lakeside city, surrounded by dramatic mountains and filled with chocolate shops … we don’t mind at all.

In a chocolate shop in Bariloche, Argentina.


  1. Front rack welded? It will be interesting in the end what components on the bike survived the complete trip without repair! JPP