2011/02/12: In Villa Angostura
Upon arrival in town the previous day, the tourist office lady had given me the telephone number for one of the boat tour companies. My evening efforts to obtain information by phone ended in frustration, however. I could get out my halting question, but the reply was so quick and so lengthy that all I heard was a torrent of Spanish followed by “…Hasta luego. Ciao. Click” So we made a morning run to the turismo again, and a more helpful lady called both boat companies on my behalf, and wrote out all the applicable information.
We retired for coffee, and fell into conversation with Paul, a 60 year old Buenos Airan of many interesting careers, persuasions, and passions. Back in our room, we watched the downpour from our window, while a pair of ibises foraged in the sodden grass. We met Paul for an excellent dinner and a very interesting evening.
|Pair of Buff-Necked Ibis|
2011/02/13: 24 km by bike, 30 km by boat, to hostel near Puerto Panuelo
We rode the few kilometres to the entrance of Las Arrayanes National Park, which covers a peninsula that juts into 80 kilometre long Lago Nahuel Huapi. The park protects a unique pocket of rain forest, including the reddish barked arrayanes. The 12 kilometre trail that leads to a boat landing at the southern tip was reportedly feasable “on a mountain bike.” We pushed and hoisted our loaded bikes up 1 kilometre of steps, and rode and walked gingerly along a gnarly trail, stopping to watch hummingbirds dart around a tall fuschia. Further along, the trail narrowed and we dodged roots as we carefully descended to the boat landing.
We boarded the Modesta Victoria, heading for the port on the south shore near Bariloche, and disembarked at Isla Victoria, continuing to the south shore of the lake only when the boat returned several hours later.
|View from original settlers house|
Isla Victoria was a peaceful and idyllic place, with an arboretum of exotic (North American, European, Central Asian etc.) conifers and fruit trees established early in the 20th century. The restored elegant wooden house of the original island settler sat nestled in a meadow dotted with fruit trees.
We think the humid coastal climate bursts through the cordillera at various low points and passes near here; the Andes are much lower as we move south. Both the peninsula and the island made us feel as is we were in Lighthouse Park (West Vancouver) or perhaps even Stanley Park.
|Afternoon tea on Isla Victoria|
Upon the boat’s return, we boarded again and carried on to Puerto Panuelo, 25 kilometres west of Bariloche. From here, we rode east with a view of finding campground suggested by the ship’s captain. We stopped to investigate a log-built hostel, and found it was run by a friendly bunch and it also doubled as a bike rental enterprise. We installed ourselves to avail ourselves of its quiet setting, not to mention it’s WiFi. We’d been deprived of Internet in Villa La Angostura as it suffered a town wide problem.