Argentina & Chile,

7th March - 28th March 2010

[7 - Senda Los Hitos:  Lago Las Rochas to

Pasarella Azur (Primer Corral) ]


Dawn at Lago Las Rochas.


Wednesday 17th March

The day started out overcast with a light drizzle. According to Ralph, we had at that stage covered 42.3 km, including Lynch-Frey. Packing up in anticipation of rain, we headed off from Lago Las Rochas at 09h30. Elena and Kelson had taken this route previously a number of years ago and had been considering an optional route to the one that would see us cross the lake and head for Segundo Corral, as was also suggested by the owner at La Pasarela. It would take us towards Lago Azul but would involve negotiating further ascents, as the planned route was flatter, relatively speaking. The term "the route is relatively flat" was arguably the first of a number of Chilean jokes and relative terms or contradictions that we were soon to become familiar with on this trip. After chatting to border guards and learning more from them however, they reconsidered the plan, as the information coming through was that the trail was marred by roadwork construction throughout the area approaching Lago Azul, which they were keen to avoid.

So it was that we reached a point on the river from which Elena alerted the farmer, who strolled down to meet us, whereupon, in groups of three, he ferried us across its waters in his rowing boat. His little girl by his side, whom we subsequently learnt bore the name of Miranda, though possibly due to her shyness, she barely spoke and hardly mustered as much as a smile. Remembering that I had been carrying a packet of sweets, I offered her a few, which seemed to have an immediate impact. Quite suddenly, her face lit up as she struggled to contain her delight and she smiled broadly. Just a bit further on we found a wooden lodge in the midst of being constructed.


Crossing the river near Segundo Corral; The farmer who helped us and his shy daughter (after she got her sweets); Ferrying in groups of three.


An idyllic spot for constructing one's dream eco-lodge!


Crossing a large river near Segundo Corral.


  Ralph posing at the route sign - so is it to be Segundo or Primer Corral?


 Pedro posing at the route sign - so is it to be Segundo or Primer Corral?

A signpost marks where the path between Segundo and Primer Corral splits; Sheep group for a tactical discussion on a makeshift football pitch.


Andre and Kelson in Chilean countryside. Elena negotiates with the farmer's wife for a loaf of bread.

Additional photos courtesy Ralph Pina, Harald Weber & Andre Greyling. Traditional farming methods are still being practised.

Deep in Chilean countryside where traditional farming methods are still being practised, Elena negotiates for a loaf of bread, which we waste no time in consuming, having crossed the river.

We crossed a wooden bridge, then an open field where a sign signalled the route to Primer Corral and beyond that, an open expanse with football goalposts in the midst of it and a multitude of sheep grazing on it. Might they have been discussing tactics perhaps? Ah, the all-pervasive beautiful game indeed! At Segundo Corral, Elena negotiated with another farmer's wife which allowed us to buy a loaf of bread. Just a bit further on we reached a stream, probably Arroyo Barrancas, removed our boots and crossed the stream, deciding in the process to call a halt for an early lunch. The bread proved too enticing and without a moment's delay, it was then sliced, tasting as sweet as cake rather than bread itself. In all the day's route was turning into a marathon and lengthy walk, which saw us cover 15 km over tough, undulating landscape and steep inclines, hence the notion of the Chilean joke! The path was now opening up more in contrast to what we had encountered in the national parks and was broad enough for horse-drawn carts to travel on, the reddish soil well exposed. Wild berries were still available in abundance for us to feast upon.




The final push to reach our campsite near Primer Corral, Elena's communication skills enabled us to confirm the precise route to take, whenever we were unsure ourselves.

We found another farm after uncertainty arose as to the precise route in reaching Primer Corral. The Puelo river was now gradually being channelled into a steep gorge and Kelson had gone off to enquire from a group of hikers who confirmed that they were following a path still close to the river. Elena, meanwhile, had led us to a a charming little farm inhabited by a really sweet old lady who then showed her an alternative way which led out from the back of her farm. After regrouping and taking this route and subsequent ascent up the hillside, we passed close to Primer Corral. We were now well above the gorge, which provided us with a glimpse of the fast-flowing waters and rapids, as evidenced by the roar from below. Elena alleged that the terrain was drier than when last she and Kelson were there last, with no mud to speak of - well, all that was about to change in the coming days.

As the Rio Puelo comes into view near Pasarela Azur, we encounter Huasos (Chilean Gauchos) on horseback.


A final stop in paradise before reaching camp for the night.





Pasarela Azur over the Rio Puelo near Primer Corral, where we set up camp for the night.

We still managed to obtain water for drinking purposes from small streams, for Ralph and I, fuelled with packets of powdered drink mixture. We reached our destination for the day, the pasarela (bridge) over the Rio Puelo painted a bright blue - literally Pasarela Azur, where we camped that night, pitching our tents on the sandy shore of the river. It was such a tranquil yet exceptional setting. We had no sooner got there when Harald, bless him, tried his hand at fishing and ended up in the water as he attempted to release his line. We were amazed as to how frequently large trout were spotted jumping out of the shallow water. Encouraging Harald to move his position made no difference and it was clear we were not having any trout for dinner. At the start of the trip Harald had raised our expectations, so we were sadly disappointed. Despite this, our third pasta dinner in a row still tasted like a million bucks.


Trout-infested waters near Pasarela Azur - this is where Harald tried his best to provide us with an alternative to our packaged meals.


Additional photos courtesy Ralph Pina, Harald Weber & Andre Greyling. Additional photos courtesy Ralph Pina, Harald Weber & Andre Greyling.

Additional photos courtesy Ralph Pina, Harald Weber & Andre Greyling.

Camp on the shores of the river near Pasarela Azur.


Patagonia, Argentina & Chile

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Other Tour Group photos (Picasa):  [1 - Kelson & Elena]  [2 - Ralph]  [3 - Harald]

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