We just arrived in Bariloche after two splendid days making our way from Chile to Bariloche, Argentina. One can do the crossing in one day but we decided it would be more fun and relaxing to take the two-day tour excursion. We’d arrived at the airport in Puerto Monte where we were met by a driver and guide. It was a great idea for us to hire the guide, no mess, no fuss getting from the airport to our hotel in Puerto Vargas, a nearby smaller town. It is a Sunday when we arrive and just as in Europe almost everything is closed except for restaurants and the local supermercado. The town is very quaint but not much is going on here.
Our guide tells us that Chile has some 2200 volcanoes and 500 of those are active volcanoes and all are currently dormant except for one. Our guide also tells us that we must try this certain restaurant where we can get delicious King Crab or Congrio for dinner (Congrio is the fish of the area). He hands us a card and tells us we can each get a free Pisco Sour if we present the card. Janelle asks the guide if his brother owns the place. Later, we eat there anyway despite the hard sell, but he is right, the fish dishes are very good and the place is low key and very, very inexpensive.
The next morning we are taken by bus to our pier at Petrohue where we board the catamaran with only 20 other travelers. This is a two-hour ride across Lake Todos los Santos, known as the Emerald Lake because of its blue-green color. The views and scenery of the lake and the Andes Mountains are absolutely stunning. No photos that I can take do the scenes justice. I must imbed this memory in my mind because it so surreal. The weather is absolutely perfect, no wind and just the right temperature. Our guide tells us we are lucky because it can be windy, raining, and cold at times crossing the lake. We arrive at Peulla, a forested area where we will be spending the night. The population is only 128 here and consists of two hotels side by side. The hotels are both practically empty because the start of fall marks the end of the summer tourist season. In the winter, the place comes alive again with winter sports. Mary and Janelle take a stroll along the only road and find a school. They meet the professor and students and have a wonderful time. Janelle promises to do a blog post on her experience at the school when she arrives home. Janelle has some great shots but forget to bring the camera cable to export her photos to the computer.
The next morning we must take a 30 kilometer bus ride to get to the next lake for our final crossing. The road is a dirt road that ascends some 1200 meters to the summit where we will cross the border into Argentina. The road is narrow and there are several hairpin turns. The bus is a four-wheel drive vehicle and it is amazing that they do this run almost every day including the winter. The bus driver communicates by radio to make sure no buses are coming in the opposite direction. The speed at which he is driving tells me he is very confident that he will not encounter another bus. Mary and Janelle are not no sure as I can surmise from the tightness in their facial muscles and the grip they have on the armrest. We arrive at the summit and cross into Argentina. This is perhaps the most unusual border crossing I have ever experienced. Just down the road we arrive at the lake and there go through customs. Following a very leisurely lunch and a very steep climb to a waterfall, we embark on our final lake crossing, another beautiful excursion through the Andes.