There is so much to see in the lake district in Argentina, too much almost. Everything is beautiful and the more you explore the more you want to see. Exploring with Anna and Cody was great, they are like us, the more remote the area the better. We all decided to head down less traveled dirt roads into the national parks towards Chile to find the place where we would spend Christmas.
As we drove towards Chile the landscape in the lake district changed dramatically. It went from dry grasslands, to pine forests, to lush tropical foliage surrounded by looming volcanoes. The closer we got to Chile, the more lush and jungly it became.
Walking through the lush landscape with Anna near Lago Epulafquen
We spent Christmas eve wild camped on a Lago Lolog surrounded by colorful wildflowers. It was a beautiful camp site but the wind was a bit intense, so we stayed only for a day. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve here with lots of wine, grilled steaks and great company.
Before we bought our fancy Argentinian grill set up we had to figure a way to use our cobb grill over the open fire. Cody created this brilliant design and it worked perfectly!
Christmas eve dinner in the XP. We can easily have four people eat around the table. I picked some wild flowers to make it special.
Even in the wind, Cody was out fishing and caught some trout. You can tell when it is very windy when there are waves on the lakes.
Trying to escape the wind we went on a stunning drive Christmas Day to our next camping area, within National Park Lanin around Lago Currhue and Lago Epulafquen. This area was very uncrowded and had everything from stunning lakes, lush foliage, lava flows, hot springs and waterfalls. We really enjoyed it around here. For Christmas dinner Anna made us her famous shepherd’s pie in our Dutch oven from a recipe she learned from a friend while she was living in England. It was so delicious and the perfect Christmas dinner and we had wonderful warm weather to enjoy a perfect Christmas day!
Our camp spot on the river Christmas Day.
There was an Argentinian family down the river from us and they used the river as their refrigerator. After dinner on Christmas we took two bottles of Champagne and hiked to a lake and put the bottles in chill them, it worked great!
We filled up our water tank in Patagonia directly from the streams with a pump Sam created. This was some of the best tasting water we have had in our tank and since there were no animals in the park, we only added a very small amount of bleach and let our filter do the rest.
I am not sure how it happened, but both Anna and I have the exact same horribly ugly green hat from REI. We both got them on sale (because who would pay fill price for a mint green hat?). We laughed about the randomness of us both having this ridiculous, yet practical hat.
Cody used his float tube a lot on this river to fish. He even floated (white water rafted…) back from the lake we hiked to during the night.
While we were in this area we did a lot of exploring. This was a little waterfall we found tucked away in the forest.
Near Lago Epulafquen there is a hike through a massive lava field that leads to the lake.
The volcanoes were what really made this area unique for me. Beautiful tranquil lakes surrounded by all these active volcanoes was a stunning contrast. The beauty and the beast.
This is what it looks like when the trail ends. Perfect.
It was so hot Sam, Anna and Cody all jumped in. For maybe 5 seconds, the water was freezing. Even though it was hot, I could just not do it. The water felt like liquid ice to me.
The look on Anna’s face pretty much sums up the cold, she could not get out fast enough, I was cracking up.
After a few days of exploring this part of Lanin, we decided to go down another long road where we would hike to the base of the famous Volcan Lanin. This part of the park was also spectacular, and we spent four days exploring this area and also stayed at my favorite wild camp spot of the trip (until we were kicked out by gauchos…).
This was my favorite wild camp site of the trip so far. We went down a tiny road in the park and aired down and drove down the beach until we found this gem.
The gauchos would cross the river with their horses to get to the other side, it was super deep in areas. Super fun to watch.
We had a view of the volcano Lanin behind us and the this in front of us. We made a campfire on the beach at night and cooked potatoes and butternut squash wrapped in tin foil in the coals. The next day we got kicked out. Apparently wild camping in the national park is not really ok. Oh well, we had one night of perfection!
Anna breaking down the tent after the gaucho eviction.
Just another stunning vista of the volcano.
We hiked to a waterfall while we were here.
This is where we ate lunch. Just pulled over off the road. Not many ugly spots in this area.
Lago Huechulafquen with wildflowers.
While in this part of the park we chose to do the all day hike to the base of Lanin Volcano. It was a really fun hike that took us through really diverse scenery that ranged from pine forests, ancient “monkey puzzle tree” forests, crystal clear brooks and then above the tree line to the snow capped volcano. We were all a bit exhausted after the hike, but the good kind of exhaustion that comes from spending all day in nature.
Anna and I hiking up the valley. Little did we know that in about a mile the switch backs would start. Ugh!
After about 45 minutes of brutal switchbacks we got above the tree line and started getting the million dollar views back to the lake.
View back into lake. It was truly spectacular.
Anna, Cody and I getting near the base of the volcano. The temperature literally seemed to drop 30 degrees, we started piling on layers.
The four of us at the top!!!! Such a fun hike.
At least I know Sam is not the only goofy one in the family. =)
The waterfall coming off the snow was so pure, we filled our water bottles and enjoyed the icy cold water. We were really lucky to get here on a sunny day, the weather is really hit or miss.
I kind of wish we would have also done the hike to the top which you do from another park entrance, but it takes two days and we don’t have overnight gear.
Along this hike there are rare forests of the monkey puzzle trees. These ancient trees are truly unique. They look like what I imagine prehistoric trees looked like.
The bark of these massive trees.
The leaves were more like sharp succulent or cactus plant leaves then a pine forest tree. Super interesting.
From national park Lanin we headed back to national park Nahuel Huapi for our favorite hike of the trip and the conclusion of of Anna and Cody’s Patagonia visit.
On our drive to Nahuel Huapi this was the type of scenery we saw. Sorry for so many pictures in these post, just so much fun and so much beauty!!!! And I narrowed it down from over 1600 pictures we took while we were with Anna and Cody! We so so many beautiful things…