Friday, January 20, 2017

January 20: Puerto Blest (by Carolyn)

Puerto Blest in Nahuel Huapi National Park
January 20

Today couldn't have dawned any more beautiful. We had our pilots back, the air was crystal clear and we were 5,600 miles from Washington, DC.

Gustavo and Lorenzo picked up all five of us for a drive along the lake to catch a private boat that took us west up a narrow arm of the Nahuel Huapi Lake to Puerto Blest, which is a small tourist village, (but all we saw was a small hotel and boat dock.) Along the way, we ate some snacks and shared more mate tea and took pictures of waterfalls. The water coming from the river was milky turquoise due to the fine sediments suspended in the glacial melt that feeds into the lake.

 Gustavo Iglesias

This part of the park receives over 150 inches of rain each year, so everything was different compared to yesterday. We hiked up the mountain through a rich and diverse native forest with a dense understory of colihue reed, native to Chile. It is an interesting plant, like a bamboo, but the canes are not hollow. Each multi-acre stand will bloom once in sixty years, and once it sets seed it dies. People will wait a lifetime to see it bloom, and folks can be forgiven for thinking it never does.

The trail got steeper and was eventually replaced by stairs...the newly constructed stairway rivaled any cathedral climb I've ever done. We paralleled a creek which had numerous waterfalls, and overlooks gave us a chance to catch our breath and look for birds...easy to hear, not so easy to see.

 Jack, Josh, Carolyn, Guiseppe Caltibiano

Finally we arrived at our lunch spot...the boat crew had sped around from the opposite direction and set up a beautiful picnic with cold beer, hot soup, red wine and delicious wraps and pick up food. At this point, we were maybe 15 miles from the Chilean border.

 Lorenzo Simpson, Gustavo Iglesias, Josh Marvil

Back at the dock, we saw seven Andean condors flying along the ridge top. It was time for them to head to the roost and for us as well. A lovely and relaxing experience and impressive end to our time in Argentina.

 Wingspan of the Andean Condor