After spending a few days in Buenos Aires, experiencing “The Tango” and sampling local street food, we started our 8000 km road trip, to El Calafate, home to the Perito Moreno glaciers in Southern Patagonia.
We started our adventure and headed towards Bariloche, about 1700 km’s South. Founded by early Swiss mountain explorers, Bariloche is home to beautiful lakes, snow and lots of chocolate.
We’ve spent the better part of the year camped out at beaches and we were looking for something a little different. We found an amazing house on a river about 40 km’s North of Bariloche. The community of Villa Llanquin has 300 residents, no internet and a manually operated three car ferry.
We’ve repeatedly heard how good Argentinian meat and lamb is and it really lives up to its reputation. Being proudly South African I would defend our country as the best meat producer in the world, but now that we’ve eaten the local meat here, it really is a step up from anything we have ever tasted.
For New Years, we ended up spending the day swimming on the banks of the river, in-front of our house, braaing steaks, drinking bubbles and generally just lapping up the surrounding nature. The house is one of those places that is incredibly chilled, so much so that I read three books in 10 days. We were also treated to a traditional lamb on the spit by our Air BnB hosts, Juma and Ines, which took five hours to cook.
After Villa, we continued our road trip to Southern Patagonia, which has scenery unlike anything we’ve seen on our travels. Along with the hundreds of kilometers of gravel roads, this part of the trip was a real adventure.
Having travelled for a year, we’re now quite comfortable just driving until it gets dark and then looking for a place to stay, with some nights hitting the jackpot and others not. One great night was when we were running out of petrol, fifty kilometers along a very bumpy gravel road and came across what could only be described as an oasis with beautiful horses, pink flamingos and acres of wetlands with thousands of birds. Its one of those travel finds that makes road tripping so much fun. We ended up sitting in the farmers house, drinking local wine, eating lamb and taking the kids horse riding.
Our farthest point South was to be El Calafate, a small touristy town, close to the Perito Moreno glacier, one of the world’s most unique sights. It’s an incredible experience taking a boat and watching huge shards of ice break off and explode into the water. Although the kids are still young, I think this is one of the experiences that they will remember for the rest of their lives, as to them, they had gone to Anna and Elsa’s ice palace from Frozen.
Argentina is known for its wine and steak, but one of the things that we both weren’t aware of, was the very bad National roads. One minute the road will be beautifully smooth and the next you’ll be re-directed on to a gravel road for hundreds of kilometres. It made us realise how fortunate we are living in South Africa, as we truly have some of the best roads in the world. I won’t even mention how absolutely atrocious the Argentinian drivers are.
We’ve started our way back to Buenos Aires, stopping in San Rafael, just South of Mendoza, the capital of the wine area. We’re currently staying on a 40 hectare estate owned by a Palestinian who has settled in Argentina to retire. The “estate” has all the amenities you could dream of, big pool, barbecue area and acres of trees and grass. We’ve spent the last week in the pool, picnicking, barbecuing and generally just chilling. Unfortunately, we only have another two weeks here and then we start the trek back to South Africa.
We’ve really fallen for Argentina. It’s a rugged country, filled with amazing people, untouched scenery and experiences. Along the way, two very special dogs have found a place in the kids hearts, Chorros and Nala, we’ll be back to see you some time in the future.