There are pros and cons to having a rental car here in Argentina. In this post, I’ll tell you the pros; I’ll save the cons for a later post.
We spent the entire day Tuesday driving the road less traveled: the Seven Lake Drive through the northern half of Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi and the southern half of Parque Nacional Lanin, a total of just over 300 miles.
It’s called the Seven Lakes Drive for obvious reasons – you drive past seven alpine lakes, though they’re hard to count since the road twists and turns and you can’t tell if you’re seeing a new lake or one you just passed.
We think – having driven it – that it could just as easily been called the Seven Hour Drive, because that’s how long it takes to do it.
At the very beginning of the trip, we stopped to take a picture of the city of Bariloche from across Lago Nahuel Huapi, the largest lake of the group. You can see Bariloche at the water’s edge; the Andes mountains are in the background.
There won’t be many photos of the lakes in this post because there were only a couple scenic overlooks and with the combination of twisting roads, narrow road shoulders and reckless drivers, we were afraid to pull off to take pictures. Here’s a good one, though:
After driving the length of Lago Nahuel Huapi, we stopped for lunch in a quaint little town called Villa La Angostura, then the road turned inland and, after just a few miles, changed from a brand new, modern paved roadway to 10-mile construction project through the forest. It was bedlam because no one was directing traffic and the cars had to compete with the dump trucks and construction equipment the whole way through. See what I mean?
This dirt and gravel road eventually ran into a paved road again, which we continued on to another neat little town, San Martín de los Andes, where we stopped to do a little shopping for necessities (more on that later). The road continued through Junin de los Andes, a working town, and then the scenery began to change…
…opening up to a vista of the namesake of Parque Nacional Lanin – Volcán Lanin.
Volcán Lanin rises 12,400 feet – more than 5,000 feet higher than any surrounding peak.
Here, our road turned east, crossing the pampas…
and as we climbed up onto the plateau…
…we pulled over and took this photo of Volcán Lanin, off in the distance, towering above everything else:
We soon came upon a one-land bridge…
…and Dale took this picture down river as we crossed.
The road followed the river and soon we felt like we were driving through Arizona. It was beautiful.
There was less traffic in the interior and plenty of road shoulder, so we pulled off a couple times to admire the scenery.
Arizona changed to Texas as the sun began to go down.
The sky turned violet, pink and deep, dark blue as we hurried to make it back to Bariloche before we were enveloped in darkness (sunset is around 9:00 p.m.).
Back on the eastern shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi, we stopped at the same vantage point we started from and took this photo of Bariloche at night across the lake.
It was a long, but enjoyable day.