26 October 2015

From Mendoza along the Old Route 40

It was a slow start to the day when we were to leave Mendoza. After some wine it was a little hard to motivate to get an early start even though we had a lot of driving to do to get to Termas El Sosneado (The Sosneado Thermals). We decided that we wanted to take the more scenic and totally gravel route that was the old route 40. It was a very good call as we drove through some amazing landscapes with great scenery and saw only 2 cars, 2 motorbikes, and a Gaucho on his horse.  

Team Tall Tree about to get lost in a very rural part of Argentina

Route old 40 was incredible. Following the mountains south all we would see were snow capped peaks to our right and desert to our left.

Cruising in Pablo's Hilux

Saw a herd of goats and thought it would be funny to catch one.. so we chased them and I caught one.

Once we reached a little town called El Sosneado we started to head west into the mountains and up towards a hot spring that was about 100km off of the beaten track up a valley. The further in we got the more volcanic the landscape became. Once we were 10 minutes down this road we saw nobody apart from the Gauchos in their little huts.

Una Heras - a holding pen for livestock.

 This was the abandoned hotel that we found near the end of the road. It was put here for the hot pools. It was then abandoned in the 1950's when the hot-pools became luke-warm-pools. 

Once we reached the hotel I was the only one foolish enough to get into the pools. After running around barefoot my numb feet fooled me into thinking that the pool was warmer than it really was and so I stripped off and jumped in only to realize how cold they really were. Then there was also the dilemma of the air temp being freezing so I got deeper and deeper into the pool determined to find the hot spot that didn't exist! 

We set up camp and then began our first Argentinian BBQ with entrana (some meat that we got in a tiny little town) and made some awesome sandwiches. We also managed to finish our supply of vino.. 

  The luke-warm-pool.

After we left the valley and made it back to El Sosneado we learnt that this valley was the one that the Uruguay rugby team's plane went down in the 1970's. The survivors then made the journey over the Andes and into Chile.. Crazy story!

From here we made the mammoth drive south to Bareloche through the El Payen area which is the most expansive volcanic area that I have ever come across.

A Gaucho herding his goats on route 40.

Rio Grande boiling through a lava gorge, El Payen. 

Dirt roads, Gauchos and volcanic landscape

We then continued to drive through the night to reach Bareloche for the semi final game between the All Blacks and South Africa and to BBQ up a storm at Mariano and Loli's house who we also work with on the ship.

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