The following is an excerpt of my diary-blog. Together with my boyfriend and a friend, I traveled to Argentina from the US. Spent a few days in Buenos Aires and flew to Bariloche. We then went to Esquel (some 350kms further south) where we met up with our guide from River the World (www.rivertheworld.com) to go into a very remote part of Patagonia, an area still wild, untouched by the business of tourism. Here I share a bit of my Patagonian experience...
It's a rainy morning. "Are we going rafting today?"
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and toasted home-made bread enters our cabin as our charming italian guide brings us breakfast and wetsuits: "Andiamo! We're gonna get wet anyways!"
After a comprehensive security talk, we get on our rafts at the Zapata Bridge over the Futaleufu river. The water is of deep turquoise, clean and flat. Locals swear the riverbed is made of turquoise stones - but that's not what we're here for. So we move on. A couple of minutes later we arrive at our first class IV rapid, and then another and another. Screaming and splashing we make it to Mundaca (class IV+ rapid), where we decide to row ahead at full speed to make it through the middle of the wave, hoping to get it right and exit victoriously. And we do. Two hours of intense rafting bring us to the port of Macal, where a whole new landscape opens up and the flat waters invite us in for a swim.
By the time we get back to the base, a mineral hot bath has been prepared for us, together with some appetizers and a bottle of wine. The air is chilly in the evening, the steam of the hot tub draws us right in. We watch the night fall all around us. Crickets sing to the rhythm of the waters of the river just below.What a magical place...
The first morning rays slowly illuminate the moist Patagonian lands. I take an early walk and catch up with a young girl with a bucket. Together we feed the chickens, pigs, and an orphan baby wild boar. Mate (*) in hand, we admire the beautiful horses and get ready for a 5 hour ride. We enter the Azul Valley on horseback, over the bridge, through the forest and across the creek. We tie up our horses and enjoy a riverside lunch made up of juicy tomatoes, the best avocados ever, and a variety of delicious local cheeses and home-made breads. A short hike through the forest brings us to a beautiful waterfall, where some decide it's time for a cold swim. Others just sit back and enjoy the view, dreaming of a longer stay immersed in the peace and magic of this piece of paradise.
Our last night is celebrated around a bonfire. "Asado criollo" is on the menu, a particular way of cooking the meats very slowly, guaranteeing the most delicious tender meats. The life around the fire is as unique as the people that have gathered here. Each of us from a different part of the world continue to share our travel experiences, our adventures and impressions. This 4-day trip has come to an end, leaving us all with a taste of Patagonia that we'll never forget.
(*) MATE: a traditional South American infused drink served with a metal straw from a shared hollow calabash gourd. It is a common social practice.