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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

How many lakes along Ruta 40? - Day 451

Today we travelled around the Argentinian Lake District with the colossal Andes towering over them. It's called Route of the Seven Lakes. Seven? How many lakes along Ruta 40 are there really?

Shall we hire a car or get a tour? That was the question. It turned out that the price of a hire car here in Bariloche was rather pricey at £80 per day and we could get a tour for the 2 of us for £60. The answer was obvious.

We booked onto the Route of the Seven Lakes which goes along the famous Ruta 40 taking us 108km to the town of San Martín de los Andes and back. I must admit that I felt beyond my years. The average age of the 6 other couples on this small coach was 70. There was a nice young Chinese girl as well, who we chatted to a bit. She had worked in the Finance Industry in Bejing and Buenos Aires.

Our tour took us around the vast Nahuel Huapi lake which we can see from our Airbnb. The road meandered through the beautiful countryside with the Andes mountain range to our left topped with glaciers and jagged rocks, coniferous forests covering the sides and, of course, the many beautiful lakes at the bottom, giving a calming effect on the scenery with the sun sparkling on the water. The lakes are all linked like a chain, with streams and rivers connecting one lake to another until the water eventually reaches the Pacific Ocean on the Chilean shore.

Our first stop was at Villa La Angostura, a pretty Alpine town on the northeast side of Lake Nahuel Huapi. We spotted a sweet looking café with a collection cuckoo clocks and enjoyed a coffee, while the rest of the couples found the much needed Banos.

The first lake we stopped off at was Lake Espejo, which means mirror. Explorer and topographer Enrique Walkff gave it this name in 1895/6; he must have seen the lake on a calmer day to us. The lake certainly didn’t reflect the mountainous landscape, in fact, it even had waves on it. I must say that, despite a bit of a wind, we were fortunate with the weather; we travelled under a gorgeous bright blue sky all day.

We passed over the Correntoso River, linking Lake Nahuel Huapi with the long and thin Lake Correntoso on our right, fed by snow-capped mountains of the Oca Mountains. Another quick stop was to peak at Lake Escondido, which means “hidden”. A good name for it as this small lake was veiled by a forest.

Our journey then took us by woodland, so there wasn’t so much to see apart from …wood. I got on with some planning. I had already downloaded many articles from a great App called Culture Trip, so took advantage of sitting and writing notes on places to visit.

I confess that I hadn’t done too much organising recently; Tim doesn't plan and had been taking the mickey out of my planning, so being pig-headed, I stopped doing it. Stupid really. Had I have done, we would have made a few different decisions. We now have six accommodations, four bus trips, three flights, a hire car and a tour before reaching Cusco in Peru and most of that, I need to book.

Our last lake before San Martín de los Andes was Lago Machónico, which means “water with pancora” in Mapuche language. Pancoras are freshwater crabs commonly found in this area and dig to hid themselves. They must have all been hiding as we didn’t see any.

We finally reached San Martin for a long lunch stop and sat in front of Lake Lácar, with a small mariner with various boats moored up. I can imagine this is a beautiful place to have a holiday, with the backdrop of stunning mountains for trekking, a large lake to either relax on or speed your way around and a pretty alpine town with cafes, restaurants, and the usual shops to entice people in for some retail therapy that they don’t need.

As we finished our picnic, I noticed that our son George had left a message. He and Laura were at their flat that they are completely renovating. If we were available, they could show us around. We gave him a call, and he paused scrubbing tiles while taking us around their lovely place through the wonders of technology. They have worked so hard both of them and have such a great vision. Their home is looking beautiful, just the flooring, kitchen and finish painting to do, and then the fun bit of getting stuff out of storage and furnishing it. We are very much looking forward to staying over in July.

We had a nice walk around the town, stopped for a beer and got back to the bus ready for the long drive to Bariloche, with another stop off at Villa La Angostura. This time, we wandered around the town, looking at the shops and a sweet little craft market in tiny log cabins.

Now, if you are a detailed person, you would have counted that we only saw six of the seven lakes. So which one did we miss? Looking at the map we would have passed Lake Villarino and the top of Lake Falkner, so that makes eight. How weird.

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