Our next planned destination was the Península Valdés. To get there we had to cross Argentina from west to east. But before we wanted to visit El Bolsón, south of Bariloche.
The village is very different from Bariloche and San Martin. In the 1970s many hippies migrated from Buenos Aires to El Bolsón and you can still feel this spirit in the village.
There are countless interesting artworks throughout the village, in very different styles from steampunk to woodwork to graffiti.
The sky was really crazy when we were there.
Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday there is a very interesting outdoor artisan market in El Bolsón. The handcrafted products offered there are really beautiful and worth a visit.
We stayed two nights in El Bolsón and enjoyed the vibe of this small village. Besides hippies, backpackers and mountaineers you can also find many digital nomads in this village, including the necessary high-quality coffee shops with fast internet and notebook workspaces.
Shortly after El Bolsón, we had the choice between driving the quicker Ruta 40 and taking the longer but supposedly more beautiful Ruta Provincial 71 along the Andes. We chose the 71.
Ruta Provincial 71
The landscape along this route changed quickly from steppe vegetation to mountain forest.
There were again many beautiful lakes along this route.
About halfway on the 71, you reach the Parque Nacional Los Alerces where we had a short stop at the Lago Verde and hiked to the Pasarela Rio Arrayanes, Muelle Lago Verde, and some nice viewpoints.
There are also a couple of waterfalls along this route, like the Cascada Irigoyen.
Altogether the detour from the Ruta 40 was definitely worth the additional time. The Ruta Provincial 71 is very beautiful and not far behind the better-known Ruta de los Siete Lagos further north.
The 71 ends in Esquel where we spent the night. The next morning we were able to watch the Old Patagonian Express, a historic steam locomotive on a narrow gauge railway.
Ruta Nacional 25
At the junction at Tecka, we took the Ruta Nacional 25 which runs from west to east across the Chubut Province of Argentina.
The landscape changed completely again to a desert-like steppe.
We saw our first Armadillo on this trip along the 25.
At Los Altares some very interesting geological rock formations can be found, similar to the landscapes in the South-West USA.
When we crossed the area we had extremely strong wind. My guess would be that the gusts were well above 100 km/h. Sometimes it wasn’t even possible to stand on your feet. The landscape was at the same time very beautiful and very hostile and felt a bit otherworldly.
In the late afternoon, we started looking for some accommodation for the night and finally found something in Las Plumas. The Viejo Hotel was founded in 1904. It was very basic but at least clean and cheap. Due to the storm, there was no electricity and no hot water when we arrived. Luckily, the next morning, the electricity was working for one hour before it broke down again.
Before finally reaching the Península Valdés we made a spontaneous stop at Gaiman.
It was originally not on our radar. But the desire for a morning cappuccino led us to this beautiful village.
Gaiman is the cultural and demographic center of the Welsh settlement in Argentina and was founded in 1874.
Besides all the interesting artwork throughout the village Gaiman features many lovely historic buildings.
After a couple of cappuccinos, we continued our trip to Puerto Piramides.