At Los Horquetas we turned off towards P.N. Perito Moreno along a 90km ripio road in bad condition. The park is a smaller, lesser frequented park on Lago Burmeister with a camping site tucked away in a small forest and well sheltered.
There are trails, a bird hide and horse rides are possible. Although we were hoping to see Huemul deer, a ranger indicated that it may be extinct in Argentina and only possible to see in Chile. What a pity, we had already completed our travels in Chile.
Along Lago Burmeister we had such a strong wind that photographing with tripod was impossible – at the same times the winds produced interesting lenticular cloud formations.
On the return journey from the park we discovered some Armadillos and were amazed how they managed to dig themselves half way into the ground so that it is impossible to extract them by hand.
Back on Ruta 40 we carried on northerly and reached Bajo Caracoles – this area is flat and the low shrub gives it colour. The town had a total of only 15 inhabitants and the fuel pumps were decorated by passing motor cyclists. Travelers can have lunch here at the small hotel – but we did not spot a shop.
Following the gravel RN 103 we got to Lago Ghio late afternoon and found ourselves a spot overlooking this blue lake – virtually no traffic here whatsoever – and spent a quiet albeit windy night.
We were not far from the border post Paso Rodolfo Roballes once we got on the Ruta 41 in the direction of Los Antiguos. We can recommend this trip along Ruta 41 – a very scenic and remote road with interesting rock formations and peaks.
After 102km we reached Los Antiguos. The town that had its annual cherry festival the week before. This area was dry and windy – yet it produced the best cherries in Argentina. Early farmers had planted large poplar trees around every plot, effectively breaking the wind completely , so the cold climate with plenty of water from Lago Buenos Aires makes it ideal to grow the fruit.
We managed to eat 5 kg of cherries in 2 days – our stomachs complained a little, but they were just super delicious and at Peso 60-70 per kg a steal!
We camped at Camping Circulo Policial – a site that belonged to the police union of the area, a plot all framed by tall trees and hence no wind.
Next morning we tried to get our tires inflated – no service station had air. We found this quite often in South America so it is wise to always have a small compressor on hand. At least in this town the ATMs accepted foreign cards again and we stocked up on some much needed cash.
From here we travelled south on Ruta 40 as we were keen to visit the Cueva de los Manos next, the paintings of hands by nomadic indigenous inhabitants, situated along the Rio Pinturas. As we traveled southwards, Willi, the Austrian we had met at New Year in Ushuaia, stopped us to inquire whether diesel was available in this area, as further south he could get none and would have had to wait for 3 days. Supply in this area of Patagonia seems to be erratic at times and we appreciated our 200 liter tank and reach of around 1300km.
Soon we took a gravel backroad shortcut towards the Cuevas and drove up a track into the Cañon Caracoles to find a spot for the night. There was nobody around besides some wild horses and guanacos and we found ourselves parking just off the track enjoying the sunset that turned the canyon into a canvass of different colours as the sun set – accentuated by the stark white-crusted river bed.
As the wind was picking up, we attached our shade-net on the side of the vehicle and again it proved to be a good solution to reduce the very strong gusts that were prevailing through the night.
At 10am next morning we reached the Cueva de los Manos on time to participate in the first guided tour along the sheer cliffs of the canyon. Although we had seen some of the painted hands near Cerro Castillo previously, these here were far more abundant and impressive including painting of some animals.
As this region only sees about 20mm per year, the paintings kept well. The predominant colours are red (iron), white (clay), black (manganese), green (copper) and yellow (natrojarosite) mixed with urine and fat.
As in other parts of the world, high fences had to be erected to protect them against vandalism making it difficult to photograph them close up.
This covers 18th to 23rd January 2018