The Big Blog Exchange 2014

2014-11-08 Hostelling International - Argentina - Malaysia

#08 | The Scenic Beauty of Northern Patagonia

When Hostelling International (HI) Argentina asked me in October the places I´d like to visit on my Big Blog Exchange to Argentina (and being the Geography nerd that I am), three immediately sprang to mind i.e. the Pampas, the Andes and Patagonia - the three most important geographical regions in this great South American nation.


I was being greedy of course; there was no way they could possibly accommodate my request on a 10-day exchange in a country nearly 4,000 km long and 1,500 km wide.  But they tried; I know they did and, in the end, very kindly obliged me with excursions to the last two.


A few days ago, I wrote about my dream visit to the Andes.   I´d like to now share with you what I saw on my visit to northern Patagonia just a few days ago.  For this leg of my journey through Argentina, I took a 17-hour, 1225 km southbound overnight bus from Mendoza in the central western part of the country to San Carlos de Bariloche, a charming alpine resort located in the foothills of the Andes in northern Patagonia.  The entire night, the thermometer in the bus more or less hovered in the region of 7°C.  By late-morning, however, the reading had plummeted to an average of 3°C.  I knew then that we were close to Patagonia because this is where it starts to get really cold - and, of course, beautiful - in Argentina. 




Then, after a few more corners... this!







With me seated at the front on the upper deck, my eyes were literally feasting on the spectacular scenery that unfolded with the turning of each corner.  White snow-capped mountains, green vegetation and blue lakes; this was too much for my senses to savour.







I arrived in San Carlos de Bariloche shortly after midday and found this leafy town no less scenic.  After dropping of my baggage at the HI hostel, I went for a walk on the promenade overlooking the lake.  The cold and strong wind hindered me not from staying an hour or so to snap these pictures. 






The next day, HI planned out for me two activites.  The first was a brief visit to the famous Black Glacier at Nahuel Huapi National Park.  This is (sadly) a receding glacier.  Its black colour is caused by the constant fall of mud and rocks from the top of the glacier.  Quite a sight to behold, as you can see below. 



From there, the tour proceeded to the main activity for the day - a 13km, 5-hour trek deep into the lush Nahuel Huapi National Park up to the viewing point for Mount Tronado (or "thunder" in English).  It is so-named because of the constant sound of thunder it produces that is caused by the breaking of ice as new crevasses are formed.








After trekking through lush vegetation for two and a half hours, we finally arrived the lookout point for Mount Tronado.  The view from there was breathtaking with Mount Tronado literally above our heads.  However, by then, the weather had started to turn and we had to turn back after only about half an hour there.  It was, of course, another two and half hours and 6.5km of trekking back to the starting point.



My day out in the national park will stay with me forever to two reasons.  The first is because I have longed to visit Patagonia my entire life; the Big Blog Exchange has given me the opportunity to not only see the region, but also taken me through its heartland.  The second reason is this; completing the 5-hour trek was more exercise than I´d done in probably the last 5 years!  In fact, I got a "virtual" pat on the back from my wife through social media for accomplishing the feat.


I´m into the final day of my eye-opening exchange to Argentina as I write.  However, this will not be my last post with regards the exchange; I will be writing one or two more about my experience in this beautiful country.


I leave northern Patagonia with a heavy heart and hope very much to return one day together with my wife to let her experience and see first-hand the splendour of the place.  Once again, thank you, HI for this fantastic opportunity.  From me in Buenos Aires, chao.


Vincent Quek


Somos Belu, Iña y Ton. Hermanos. De Buenos Aires, Argentina. Nos gusta escribir, diseñar, sacar fotos, viajar, recorrer y comer! Empezamos este blog con la idea de compartir un poco nuestro mundo y ver qué pasa.. Seguir leyendo..




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