Last Summer, I decided to travel down to Patagonia….Years ago I had gone to Gorgeous Bariloche in the Province of Neuquen, later on I met friends from Neuquen who spoke wonders about a Magical Place called San Martin de los Andes, right by the Andes…and so, there became the itch!
After moving to Argentina from Santa Monica, California, I decided THAT would be my first trip: I was in need of ” centering my inner self”, going through one of those quiet moments in your head when you go searching for meaning,serenity and bliss. I knew THAT was the place to be…. It was Spring, there would be almost no snow left ( which I already had experienced along with the best ” branch like” chocolate you’ll ever have in Bariloche!) , beautiful, crystal clear lakes, lots of nature, pine trees and lovely, lovely people…YUP. THAT would be my next stop!
Lago Hermoso….My Absolute Favourite!
Neuquen Fine Arts Museum
So this is how it all started; after making arrangements to see my friends , the very afternoon I have landed in Neuquen, we’re suddenly sightseeing the entire downtown, Beautiful city and I must say: Some of the most kind, respectful people everywhere I went. It actually really caught my attention!
We drove around and wound up at the Neuquen Fine Arts Museum, Gorgeous installation which surprised me as I stumbled upon two pieces of my favorite Impressionist from Cordoba: Fernando Fader…I couldn’t resist to express my excitement!!
Later on we went to the Artisan Fair, which is located on Avenida Argentina al 200, entre las calles Juan B. Justo – Rivadavia y Carlos H. Rodriguez – J. B. Alberdi. ( open only on weekend evenings; 5 pm ish till the wee hours at night).
I noticed some very different pottery and knitts with a very distinctive design; my friends explained that the Tehuelches indigenous tribe later on taken over by the tribe of Mapuches, lived in the area 4000 ys BC. and those designs were still being used with outmost respect by the local Artisans… so Beautiful and different!
Mapuche or better said Tehuelche designs ( the locals really like the Tehuelches being mentioned better!)
An Artisan working at the Fair….
LOS ARRAYANES Tea House
After a day in the Capital, my friends had THE Best idea : To head out to San Martin de Los Andes, one of the most MAGICAL places I Have been to in my Life! We started in the morning and took the 8 hr ride…drove down through Neuquen Capital, Zapala, Picun Leufu ( an indigenous name) , Piedra del Aguila until we reached San Martin de los Andes…
Arrived and very easily, bargained a great price for some cabins, Spring, unlike winter which is skiing season and everywhere in Patagonia is packed, is a great time to do so. Great prices, people are less stressed at Restaurants etc, offering better service and streets aren’t jammed with people.. San Martin reminded me a lot of Park City in Utah, during the Sundance Festival.
We settled into our cozy cabins and – Lucky me- heard how my friends planned our trip for the next day!
All Along we had started taking the ” 7 Lakes Road” which you’ll see on a map at the very end…We left San Martin , and Lago Espejo, to drive through gorgeous mountains filled with pine trees, to my left I could see rocky Mountains, to the right Incredible views of lakes after lakes, an Island which had old caves where tribes lived and now are occupied by majestic Eagle families…On our way we passed by two National Reserve Parks and the incredible Lanin Volcano…I was speechless staring at so much Beauty together!
We finally stopped at a ” private neighborhood ” style place…it was filled with Pine trees and The famous ” Arrayanes Tea house” stood right by the Lacar lake. I wondered around…and when I stood on the balcony, This was the view I saw: A Magestic Lake with some hills in the middle and lots of pine trees…It was Breathtaking…once again.
We crossed the street and found a camping site where we had a delicious pic nic, good cheese, wine and grapes and afterwards went on a small hike that led us to a Beautiful waterfall where I left my mark as I balanced crossing the river on a tree trunk and my foot went right into the cooooold water! Now there was an Ally mark and my trip was MADE. HA.
We hiked up to a beautiful waterfall….
We headed back to our cabins to wake up at sunrise and head the same way as the prior day with plenty of food and water ( since there isn’t a single stop on the way with either or) to wind up at Lago Hermoso ( Beautiful Lake).
OH. MY.GOD. – That was all I could repeat …This off the road Lake was the most Beautiful sight( giving justice to it’s name) ; if it wasn’t for it’s temperature ( ice cold) I could’ve just for a moment stared at the turquoise crystal clear water and thought I was ( like some months before) in Menorca, in the heart of the Mediterranean Ocean!
We spent the entire day there, we sunbathed, had a lovely lunch and then went on a small hike. All along I could see ” Muticias” the pretty flower that represents the Province of Neuquen, along with little lizzards that BEWARE, will bite your finger off if you get too close!!
Lago Hermoso!!! ( Beautiful Lake)
…. Just like the Mediterranean waters!!!
Finger biting Lil’ Lizzard ;-D
” Muticia” The Neuquen Province Lovely Flower…
…Parts of the stricking road to lago Hermoso
The Very Famous and Gorgeous Lanin Volcano
My Soul was filled with Beauty, smiles and laughter … and after an unforgettable day, we headed back to Neuquen Capital, not before stopping by Zapala. A VERY small town. Not a lot going on there or anything to do, everything was closed due to being Sunday but I was told ” you don’t really come here unless you have something to get done or someone to visit”, as my friends had…. I truly enjoyed the views going there tho!
The Road to Zapala…
Now , I’m the kind of person that loves exploring and trying new things… since I was there with local friends, whom were amazing tour guides, we hit all the right spots. This said, I would have loved exploring a little more where all those tiny roads led to!
My heart was in the right place, my mind had quieted down, my soul filled with Love from dear friends and Beauty from the Incredible Province of Neuquen ( yes, the one with the Nicest people EVER!) …
After two great weeks, it was time to head home, back to Cordoba 🙂
This is the list of Lakes along ” The 7 Lakes Road”( which in reality are Eight):
These are ” Off the Road ” Lakes you can visit, which we did, and I am SO HAPPY WE DID, since Lago Hermoso is so Incredible! I HIGHLY recommend it …
You can check them all on this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_of_the_Seven_Lakes
After these, if you continue heading South, you’ll hit the incredible Villa La Angostura Town, which is Dreamy and the world famous Bariloche, a city you will never, ever forget!
– I come from an Artist family that has traveled the World and has lived in seven countries. I too, am an Artist as well. Born in Santa Monica, CA, I enjoy the richness of being the child of two cultures, a citizen of the World: an Argentinean Mother,a Spaniard Grandfather and a Santa Monican Dad. My itch for traveling has been a passion ever since I was a little girl, listening to my Grandparents’ travel stories, looking at their pictures, reading my Grandmother’s Travel Diaries and so…I begun my own. I hope you enjoy it!!!