Chile to Argentina

Posted by on Mar 2, 2013

Chile to Argentina

We left Niebla on a cool morning for a day of hitch-hiking, destination: San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina. A bus from Niebla to Valdivia, another bus to the outskirts of Valdivia and then a raised thumb. Fifteen minutes later we had a ride to La Unión, close to the main north-south highway in Chile. From there we scrabbled bus rides to Osorno and in towards the Cordillera. On this leg, me and my camera parted company.

Standing in the bright afternoon sunshine just outside of a small town called Entrelagos (between lakes), was a marvel as the vista was spectacular! To the south, volcano Osorno could be seen, its perfect caldera capped with snow and glowing bright white in the sunlight. Picture perfect.

We offered thumbs up to many cars, and after about an hour, a small Renault pulled over. Natalia and Tania were also heading for Bariloche and we could hitch a ride with them all the way if we could fit. The car was not big but of course we could fit. From there we would our way through the Andes, catching glimpses of the Chile we were leaving when the mountains opened.

Osorno is not far from the Argentine border, and the days travel is only a little over 200kms so before long we were having papers stamped and entering the neutral zone. Actually, it belongs to Chile but they prefer to put their customs offices closer. From there the road because windier, steeper and the vista more impressive. What stuck me about this part was the size – we do not have mountains like this in Australia, such vistas are what people there see in travel guides accompanied by large prices in the top right-hand corner. Some of the peaks were snow-covered, some bare rock, but what changed noticeably was the vegetation. Up there in that bleak and wintery world, trees hunker down, shedding delusions of grandeur for a life of survival.

Before long we were descending again, winding our way through lusher vegetation when a clearing opened, revealing a truly remarkable view. Lago Espejo (Mirror Lake) is a large expanse of calm water, nestled between great peaks and bordered by dense forest. From our viewpoint some 300 meters up, the surface of the water was like a large glassy mirror, brilliant blue as it reflected the sky. I could see tree covered islands and a small stony beach off to the right. The colour of the water as it went from shallow to deep was the most seductive shades of blue. All around, mountains, mountains and cool clear air. A pinch yourself moment.

When the road flattened out, everything became dry as we approached Bariloche. Lake …. opened to our right and stretched away north and west. The town could be seen perched on the southern shore.