Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 05 Jul, 2007
Esquel and Trevelin, home of the Andean Welsh Colonization.Some twenty or thirty years after the Welsh colonizers disembarked in Puerto Madryn, and after having settled down in Gaiman, some brave colonizers decided to cross on horseback to the Andes. I have no idea how long…Read More
Esquel and Trevelin, home of the Andean Welsh Colonization.
Some twenty or thirty years after the Welsh colonizers disembarked in Puerto Madryn, and after having settled down in Gaiman, some brave colonizers decided to cross on horseback to the Andes. I have no idea how long it took, but it was a cross country expedition on horseback, since there were no roads, nor even white people living in the whole area. The distance was some 250 miles, going through hills, valleys, brooks, and Indian territories, and their effort was really admirable. It is true that the Welsh colonizers had learnt to trade with some Indian communities, but not all were peaceful. There is a monument to a horse called Malacara that saved the life of his owner while persecuted by the Indians, jumping over a dangerous precipice.
For many years Trevelin conserved intact its Welsh heritage. The Welsh language was spoken more than Spanish, although the Welsh colonizers adopted rapidly other local customs like the mate, and playing the taba... I visited this area for the first time 56 years ago, and was fascinated by its beauty. I was only 11 years old (I started fishing trout at that age), enjoyed traveling on the sulky from the farm to the church and was amazed at the charming way in which Welsh untrained singers sung the hymns. I could hardly believe it. Welsh people really love music, and most farms had (and still have) organs on their premises. Some 30 years ago, the construction of the Futaleufu hydroelectric project for supplying energy to the Puerto Madryn aluminum plant, increased the Argentine population in the area. The artificial lake buried for ever the impressive rapids of the Futaleufu river, and was given the name of Quime Quipan (Lost Beauty). The lake formed by this dam covers nearly one third of the surface of the National Park. But Trevelin still conserves its traditions in its beautiful Welsh Colonization Museum and in its tearooms and chapels. While you can go to Esquel by bus from Bariloche (Andesmar, El Valle, El Ejecutivo de Chubut, ETA, MaryValle), years ago people used to use the small gage track train today called the Old Patagonian Express, that ran not from Bariloche but from Ingeniero Jacobacci to Esquel. This train took 14 hours to cover 250 miles, and has been restored to cover a part of this fascinating journey. You can travel half this way from El Maitén to Esquel, or a shorter section from Esquel to Nahuel Pan. Have a look at this link: www.latrochita.org.
Esquel means the village of Louis, while Trevelin (another Welsh word) means town of the mill, since the first flour mill in all Patagonia was constructed here. Butch Cassidy also forms part of the historical folklore of this area. Of course, he entered to Argentina with a false name, and apparently lived a peaceful life here, with the money stolen from overseas banks. Forty years ago the hippies settled down at El Bolsón, some 150 miles north of here, but I will refer to this area in another experience. Esquel has the La Hoya ski center (beautiful in winter), and the Los Alerces National Park, that is 250 miles south of Bariloche, and that still has important intangible areas. This National Park constitutes of a series of beautiful lakes: Futalaufquen, Verde, Menéndez, Cisne, Situación, Kruger, 1, 2 and 3, and outside of the National Park lakes Rosario and the Terraplén lagoon. The whole area has a typical Valdivian forest, with beautiful peaks in the Andes covered with snow most of the year. There are no active volcanoes in the area. Trevelin was founded in 1865, and the Welsh colonization museum is an historical place you should not miss. There you will find tractors with iron wheels, phonographs, iron wood stoves, embroidered linen bed covers, and many other interesting remembrances of the past. The whole museum functions where the first flour mill operated, has three floors, and has a large
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 28 Mar, 2007
This is the most complete motorboat tour I have taken in all Argentina. First you travel about an hour on a traffic van from Esquel up to lake Futalaufquen, crossing over the Percy River bridge, along the Terraplén lagoon, cross the Fontana stream (although small,…Read More
This is the most complete motorboat tour I have taken in all Argentina. First you travel about an hour on a traffic van from Esquel up to lake Futalaufquen, crossing over the Percy River bridge, along the Terraplén lagoon, cross the Fontana stream (although small, you can fish there) and then into the National Park, in the midst of beautiful forests. You will see the Futalaufquen Hotel (4 stars, beautiful) next to the lake, and a few minutes later will board the first motorboat to navigate Futalaufquen lake. This lake is narrow, mountains are near on both sides, water is crystal clear, and seems either blue or emerald green, depending on the background. We then navigate along the Arrayanes river (beautiful!) where you will see myrtle trees on the side of the river. We will continue navigating the Verde lake, and then will disembark for a half hour walk towards lake Menendez.
The whole scenery is beautiful. The Los Alerces (The Larches) National Park is nearly untouched, compared to Bariloche. You will enjoy seeing wild flowers on the way, like the Amancay. Once at lake Menéndez you will board another motorboat enjoying a more primitive area (there are no hotels facing this lake) and will see at a distance the Torrecillas glacier, one of the newest glaciers in Argentina, with the Martial Glacier in Ushuaia. Both are running the same fate: if global warming of the planet continues at the same pace, these glaciers will only last another fifty years... so enjoy them while you can. When we disembark on the other side of lake Menendez we will walk up a trail between canes and under trees for half an hour, until we will reach Cisne lake, probably the most beautiful one in the whole National Park. If the day is sunny, you will take incredibly beautiful photos. I did not have that luck, it was getting cloudy, and you cannot see the mountain peaks. In any case, the way back to lake Menendez along a different trail, is a real treat.
We walk along the riverside (half a mile of roaring waters, rapids, and cascades), pass in front of the largest larch in the national park (2600 years old and 190 feet tall, this species belongs to the Sequoia family), and finally return to the motorboat. By this time (about 4 in the afternoon, after 8 hours of sightseeing) you will probably want to sleep all the way back... but you will have enjoyed a fantastic sightseeing experience. This tour must be costing by now some 60 dollars, including transportation from Esquel and back, and both motorboars. Trekking is free, but you will enjoy it. You will probably want to come back to lake Futalaufquen for some trout fishing. Trout are not large, the the scenery is really enjoyable.
Both motorboats have bars, but it might pay to bring some food from Esquel. I do not remember the prices just now, but a small sandwich and a soft drink or a cup of coffee could end up costing some four dollars. On the way to the lake (you will be sleeping on the way back) have a look at the Percy river canyon when you cross it (on the right-hand side). It is a good spot for trout fishing, and you come back another day, get off at the bridge (you can come on the local bus service from Esquel to Futalaufquen, and enjoy a fishing day while other passengers are doing the tour. If you get tired of fishing, just walk to the Trevelin-Esquel highway (about a mile away) and take the local bus back to the hotel. Of course, you can also get off at the Fontana stream or the Desaguadero river (beautiful) for fishing, but in this case your only alternative is to come back on the regular bus service returning from the National Park, that probably runs only once a day. Or you can go on the regular bus service and just walk around this beautiful lake sightseeing, without taking the motorboat tour (if you cannot afford paying some 60 dollars per person) or take only the first section (for half the price) and walk around lakes Verde and Menéndez.
You might want to consider the Hostería Futalaufquen for a stay, if you really want to relax. It is a beautiful 4-star hotel inside the national park, but it has only twelve rooms... so you should not expect to get bargain rates here... Have a look at this paradise: www.termasyresorts.com.ar/detalle_hoteles.php?pag=5&ID=52
Welcome to the Andes in Central Patagonia.
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 15 Jan, 2007
While staying inside Los Alerces National Park offers the most beautiful views for relaxing, you have nowhere to go and it is also the most expensive option. There are very few hotels inside the National Park, and the owners are aware of this. So you…Read More
While staying inside Los Alerces National Park offers the most beautiful views for relaxing, you have nowhere to go and it is also the most expensive option. There are very few hotels inside the National Park, and the owners are aware of this. So you will easily understand why they will cost more than in other parts of the area.On the other hand, as far as I know, there are only one or two buses the whole day to/from Esquel and/or Trevelin. Both Esquel and Trevelin are some 22 miles away.If you decide to stay at the National Park, the best option is the Hostería Futalaufquen. It is in my opinion the only hotel that meets international standards. There are some cheaper options like Hostería Mermoud at Lago Verde, in a beautiful environment, but they do not offer the same comfort. The Hostería Futalaufquen has been rated as a four-star boutique hotel. A double room is costing now 640 pesos (nearly $215) per night. This price includes breakfast and dinner; drinks are not included in the rate. The hotel is open from November to April. Lower rates apply before December 15 and after February 28.In the city of Esquel, hotels are far cheaper, all tours leave from there, and you have more options (you have zero entertainment inside the National Park, and no other dining options other than the hotel itself). These are some hotels in the city of Esquel: Hotel Tehuelche (four stars; 9 de Julio and Belgrano; phone (54-2945) 45 –2420) and Cruz del Sur (three stars; 9 de Julio and Sarmiento; phone (54.2945) 45-2189) are supposed to be the best. I stayed at the Residencial Esquel (two stars), where a room two years ago cost me some $17 per night (it could be costing $30 by now). The hotel was fine, service was good, and it was near everything. Their address is San Martin 104, and their phone is (54-2945) 45-2534.In Trevelin there are many cabin complexes and some lodges. To see the whole list, click on the link www.welcomeargentina.com/trevelin, and then on "where to sleep." I always stayed at the farm of my friends, so I cannot recommend any hotels, or I would be fooling you.There are seven campgrounds in Trevelin, and the climate is OK for camping. It is an agricultural area, and that tells you that you should not expect very cold weather in summer. Trevelin is some 14 miles from Esquel, halfway to the Nanty Falls Reserve and some 20 miles away from the National Park. It is a quieter place than Esquel (that in any case is not a large city) and you can fish rainbow trout in the Percy River that runs through the village, although you will have to get away at least three miles upstream to stand a good chance of fishing.Upstream from the bridge of the Esquel-Futalaufquen road over the Percy River, you may even catch some 4- or 5-pound trout. And in Trevelin you have the Welsh Colonization Museum (to which I will refer in Experiences), Welsh chapels, and Welsh tearooms.Prices of some tours:Fly-fishing (including transportation from Esquel) cost $70 dollars per day two years ago, and now could be costing some $100.Navigation of Futalaufquen, Verde, and Menendez lakes, including transportation from and back to Esquel: some $60 per person (it cost me $40 two years ago). For both fishing and navigation, I used the services of Esquel Tours, Pellegrini 881, phone 452832. They seem to be very reliable. Apparently they also have an office at the Esquel bus station.For going to La Hoya ski center, I used a taxi. Cost was minimal.And for visiting the Trevelin Welsh Colonization Museum and the Nanty Falls Reserve (both in one trip), I spent some $17 for the round-trip from and back to Esquel two years ago (it could be costing $25 to $30 now, including one hour waiting time at each place). If you stay at Trevelin, you will be at a walking distance from the Welsh Colonization Museum, near the Welsh tearooms, near the Percy River for fishing, nearer the Nanty Falls Reserve and nearer Rriver Futaleufu, one of the best rivers for fishing in this area.As far as I know, there is a direct bus service from Trevelin to Lake Futalaufquen. However, in Esquel you will have more options, including the La Hoya ski center. There is a regular bus service from Trevelin to Esquel (half an hour travel, the bus company is Via Trevelin).Unlike other Patagonian areas, here it is not windy, and camping is perfectly feasible. It does get cold during the night, even in summer, so go prepared. I once camped at the Nanty Falls with two friends on a fishing trip with no tent, only a canvas underneath and a blanket on top, and we got frozen to death. You will need some extra blankets or a duvet (feather) sleeping bag. There are campgrounds at Lakes Futalaufquen and Verde, inside the National Park, and also at the Nanty Falls Reserve.How to get to Esquel:FROM BUENOS AIRES: Buses of El Valle and Andesmar. You may have to change buses in Bariloche.FROM BARILOCHE: El Valle, Andesmar, Mar y Valle, El Ejecutivo de Chubut, ETA, Don Otto.FROM PUERTO MADRYN/TRELEW: Mar y Valle, El Ejecutivo de Chubut, ETA, Don Otto. Buses from Esquel to Trevelin: Via Trevelin There are also buses from Esquel to Futaleufu that even cross over to Chile and to Corvocado, the Pacific salmon fishing paradise. Cost of taxis in Argentina is minimal Two years ago I went from Esquel to La Hoya ski center (round-trip, with stops for photos), and the whole trip cost me some $8 (now it may be costing $12). And the round-trip to Nanty Falls Reserve with two 1-hour stops (at the falls and at the Welsh Colonization Museum) cost some $17 (now it could be costing $22 to $25). If you read this report long after it was written, calculate a 20% annual increase in Argentina for prices stated in US dollars.Enjoy your trip to Esquel. I know you will.
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 13 Jan, 2007
When I go to Esquel, I enjoy crossing over to Puerto Madryn (I did that two years ago). And the opposite is also true.Esquel is only nine hours away by bus from Puerto Madryn, one of the most fascinating places in Argentina. At least four…Read More
When I go to Esquel, I enjoy crossing over to Puerto Madryn (I did that two years ago). And the opposite is also true.Esquel is only nine hours away by bus from Puerto Madryn, one of the most fascinating places in Argentina. At least four bus companies go from Esquel to Trelew (40 miles away from Puerto Madryn), and one goes the full way to Puerto Madryn. Most buses are very comfortable.Buses from Esquel to Trelew are El Ejecutivo de Chubut, Mar y Valle, ETA, and Don Otto. I prefer the first three, but Don Otto has an excellent direct bed service from Esquel to Puerto Madryn that probably is better than all the other ones. Avoid using the standard bus service of Don Otto. I mean, it does not compare with the other buses; it is probably more like a Greyhound or Euroline bus service, with a little more space, but that is all.The best time of the year for crossing over to Puerto Madryn is December. Baby penguins will give Punta Tombo a special taste, and the population of the reserve will be near one million penguins. These start arriving in September, leave in April, and reach their maximum population between December and January. The tour to Punta Tombo will also take you to the Florentino Ameghino Paleontolocial Museum in Trelew, where you will have a guided tour of about one hour seeing impressive skeletons of dinosaurs, and then will continue to the Gaiman Welsh Colony to enjoy the Lower Chubut River Valley and taste delicious Welsh cakes. Gaiman is the only Welsh colony in Argentina that conserves intact its Welsh heritage.Of course, penguins are not the only attraction in Puerto Madryn. Whales arrive in June to breed in the gulf, they leave in December, and you can see them sometimes as near as 100 feet away, nearly "posing" for photos, at El Doradillo or Las Canteras, only 12 miles away from Puerto Madryn. Or you can board a small ship at Puerto Pirámides and navigate until you get even nearer.You will also see sea elephants, seals, and other attractions in the area. From April onwards you will see no whales or penguins in the area, but you will enjoy seeing orcas in the sea.
The tour for sightseeing dolphins from the port of Rawson is one you can do without. The "toninas overas" are very small dolphins (about 3 to 4 feet long) they are very fast for diving and it is mission impossible to take photos of them, or even film them. I had to ask the captain ofthe boat to take a photo of a dolphin, and he needed half an hour to accomplish this mission...
The beaches at Puerto Madryn are another good reason for crossing over to the Atlantic. The difference between low tide and high tide is 27 feet, and when the tide is low, beaches are more than half a mile wide. Even if the wind is blowing, sand will be no bother, because it will be relatively humid and will not fly. And, at least in the summer months, temperatures are even higher than at Mar del Plata. The Humboldt marine current helps to keep the water warmer, and the whole scenery in the gulf, with transparent water, is ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling. The cliffs surrounding the gulf complete the picture.Sunrise at Puerto Madryn deserves a special paragraph. I have never filmed more beautiful sunrises in all my lifetime than at Puerto Madryn. Since the gulf is a closed area (it is about 30 miles wide, but at its entrance is only a mile and a half wide), waves are minimal, and the whole sea at sunrise has a beautiful reddish colour. Add the seagulls flying on top of you, and you have the picture. It is really worthwhile getting out of bed before the sunrise.Enjoy your trip at Esquel, but try to stretch it over to Puerto Madryn. From there you have very comfortable buses that will take you directly to Mendoza (Andesmar), to Córdoba (Andesmar and TUS), to Mar del Plata (Don Otto), and to Buenos Aires (Andesmar, Condor-Estrella, and other bus companies). The trip from Puerto Madryn to Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires, or Córdoba will take some 18 to 20 hours (distance is quite similar), and maybe 28 hours to Mendoza. Andesmar is the best by far, but TUS also offers an excellent service, and Condor Estrella is quite comfortable. And on your way up to Buenos Aires, Córdoba, or Mendoza you can make a stop at Las Grutas, some three hours away, and enjoy the scenery of this Mediterranean village with its natural caves.The trip from Puerto Madryn to Buenos Aires by Andesmar costs $71 one-way on premium bed service (seat lies back completely flat like a bed), $59 on standard bed service, and $52 on semi-bed service. They do not feature common coach class buses on that route. All services feature hot meals on board, but on the executive (premium bed) service you have your choice of a chicken, meat, or vegetarian menu; wine, whiskey, and champagne; DVD; MP3; and more. Andesmar runs six times every day to Buenos Aires.Neither Esquel nor Puerto Madryn are expensive; they cost about half what you will spend in Ushuaia or Calafate, and prices are quite similar to those of Buenos Aires. Since some hotels in Puerto Madryn charge higher rates to foreigners, try the hotel Tandil. It is nearly half a mile off the beach, but is comfortable (two stars) and inexpensive. I have recommended hotels for Esquel in another section in this report.And for dining at Puerto Madryn, try Cantina El Náutico. It is a fashionable and inexpensive place. Have a look at their website:http://www.cantinaelnautico.com.ar/They are half a block off the seaside. Prices on their page are in pesos (divide by three to have the price in dollars or by four to have the price in euros), but remember that those are travel agency prices, so the final price to you could be some $10 per meal, including delicious entrees, desert, and wine.Welcome to Argentina. Start packing your bags. Close
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 09 Jan, 2007
Trevelin had since 1875 a predominantly Welsh population, and Welsh was spoken more than Spanish. This changed with the construction of the Quime Quipan ("Lost Beauty" in native Indian language) Dam, which has this name because the largest part of the Futaleufu River rapids disappeared…Read More
Trevelin had since 1875 a predominantly Welsh population, and Welsh was spoken more than Spanish. This changed with the construction of the Quime Quipan ("Lost Beauty" in native Indian language) Dam, which has this name because the largest part of the Futaleufu River rapids disappeared under the artificial lake, as well as the rapids of the Frey River further upstream. This dam was constructed to provide energy to the Puerto Madryn aluminum plant. The other alternative would have been worse. A dam at the Golfo Nuevo taking advantage of the nearly 30-foot difference between low tides and high tides at Puerto Madryn would have destroyed the natural habitat and breeding area of Austral Whales.With the construction of the dam, thousands of new (Argentine) inhabitants moved into Trevelin and modified the social structure of the village. However, Trevelin still conserves its typical Welsh flavor: about half the population is Welsh, Welsh tearooms help to conserve the taste, and the Welsh Colonization Museum is really worthwhile visiting.Welsh inhabitants were real pioneers. They came to the area when no white people lived here and had to face the threat of some Indian tribes, but finally colonized the whole area. The name of the village, Trevelin, means "The Village of the Mill," and it has this name because the first flour mill in all Patagonia functioned here. It is precisely in the old building of the flour mill where the museum was set up.It has three floors full of history and elements of the original inhabitants: the old phone exchange of the village, gramaphones, iron wheel tractors, coal stoves, sulkys, hand-embroidered bed covers and linen, a printing press, and many other past century elements. You will need a couple of hours to browse through the museum, and maybe more time if you are interested in history.You can combine this trip with a visit to the Futaleufu Hydroelectric project, a fishing tour to the Futaleufu River, or a visit to the Nanty Falls Reserve. I have written a separate report on this beautiful place, but will provide you with the main information here. Until a few years ago, it was a private farm that belonged to the Owen family (descendants of the first Welsh settlers). I visited this place at that time, on a fishing trip with two friends, and obviously it did not have the viewpoints it has now, where there is a clearly set and fenced walkway. We camped in the canyon and were frozen to death, so we got up at 4am to light a fire. Fishing in this small stream was just fantastic under the falls, where most trout averaged four to five pounds. My friends went down the cliff to do their fishing, but the cliff was steep and I preferred to fish further down in the stream. I only fished a few small trout, while my friends caught 17 20-inch rainbow trout. All were about the same size, which was really incredible.There are three waterfalls inside the reserve within a distance of less than 1,000 feet. The area is beautiful. The stream runs along a canyon, bordered by pine tree forests on the banks. It is only 10 miles beyond Trevelin, and really deserves a visit. There is a very small admission fee now that it has become a Provincial Reserve. There are also nice campgrounds at the place, and a very small convenience store, where you can buy basic elements.Enjoy your stay in Central Patagonia. Close
There are a number of tours you can take in the area next to Esquel. The city itself is surrounded by mountains, and the nearby La Hoya Ski Center is some 12 miles away from the downtown. I took a taxi there a couple of…Read More
There are a number of tours you can take in the area next to Esquel. The city itself is surrounded by mountains, and the nearby La Hoya Ski Center is some 12 miles away from the downtown. I took a taxi there a couple of years ago, and at that time it cost me 8 dollars, maybe now it could be costing twelve. The road is just mountainside in summer, with some small patch of snow, but there is a small waterfall on the Esquel stream and you may see some guanacos (I did).
A visit to the Futaleufu Hydroelectric Project will be very interesting. And if you take a taxi to the Nanty Falls Reserve, you will really enjoy it. I used to go fishing for rainbow trout here, there were beautiful fish under the falls, but I understand that fishing is not allowed in this section of the river; yes further upstream (this stream comes down from lake Rosario, another lake that is outside the National Park). Admission fee is minimal (some 3 dollars per person) and there are 3 very nice waterfalls in the area. Another attraction you should not miss is the Old Patagonian Express (La Trochita). I have no photos of my own, although I travelled on that train over fifty years ago, so I am giving you the link to enjoy it: www.latrochita.org.ar (then click on English version), www.patagoniaexpress.com/excur%20trocha.htm.
This is a narrow gage steam-engine railway. The train used to cover 250 miles from Jacobacci to Esquel in 14 hours, and traveled on it from 1951 to 1957 on my way from Bahia Blanca (where I lived) to Esquel. Presently it covers generally a short section from Esquel to Nahuel Pan, at a very moderate cost. Sometimes it goes all the way to El Maitén, going through Leleque and other interesting areas. As you will see in the photos, the area it goes through is semi-desert, but it is a really enjoyable experience. Check at the Esquel railway station or at a local travel agency. There are some small streams like the one next to the LEPA station, where there use to be (small) brook trout (Fontinalis) in abundance. Who knows if you might have a rewarding fishing experience over there? But if you are an experienced fisherman, the Corcovado River, where average size of Pacific salmon is 15 pounds, is a place you should not miss. I never made it there (you need to stay overnight and the river could be dangerous for wading, but you should give it a try... if you want a photo with that huge salmon... Have a look at this link: www.patagonia.com.ar/chubut/corcovadopezgigante.php. The lucky fisherman who caught this one, said: "its head was larger than mine..."
There are many places to enjoy in the Esquel area. Come over and discover them...
El Bolsón is only two and a half hours away from Esquel on the direct route through El Maitén. I have fished in the Chubut river up there; trouts were not large, but fishing was exciting. But there is one thing you must keep in…Read More
El Bolsón is only two and a half hours away from Esquel on the direct route through El Maitén. I have fished in the Chubut river up there; trouts were not large, but fishing was exciting. But there is one thing you must keep in mind. As the day goes on, snow melting increases and the flow of the river also does. I had waded the river to fish on the other side (it is some 120 feet wide and the water was clear, so I could see where I was standing), but when I tried to come back two hours later, the river had increased its level and I nearly fell back by the force of the water. But the most beautiful road to El Bolsón is a new road, that took years to be constructed, since it required dynamiting the mountain. It borders lake Futalaufquen on the western side, where you can see at least one beautiful waterfall two blocks away from the earth highway.
All the way along lake Futalaufquen (as far as I have gone, up to the North branch) is beautiful, through a Valdivian forest vegetation. Then it continues along Rivadavia lake. It goes 69 kilometers (43 miles) through the National Park, then through Cholila up to Epuyén (another beautiful area) and then from there to El Bolsón (I have also traveled along this beautiful road). Total distance is some 110 miles, mostly along gravel roads, so you will not get stuck. Forty percent of the road is inside the National Park. Before you arrive at El Bolsón, you can visit lake Epuyén (4 miles off the road) and also lake Puelo, some 12 miles before you arrive at El Bolsón. Both are good fishing spots. I have done trolling a number of times at Lago Puelo, trout are not huge (maybe 4 to 5 pounds weight), but really enjoyable. You might want to consider this alternative. There is a bus service along this highway. I understand it runs once every day. Check details at the Ësquel bus station.
El Bolsón has beautiful places to visit, and is a hippie paradise. The artisans fair is the most complete artisans fair in Argentina, and covers a semicircle of one thousand feet around the lake of the main square. You will certainly enjoy a visit to this fair. Fairs bore me, but this one was fascinating... And once at El Bolsón, you can visit the Piltriquitron mount (there is a road up to the top, from where you can see the valley), Cabeza del Indio (Indian's head, a natural formation in the rock), and fishing in the Quemquemtreu and Azul rivers, specially where this last river enters into the Puelo lake. But to make sure you come back with trout, do some trolling. Fishing here is so good that it is "fool-proof". I have never failed trolling in this lake... Eating in El Bolsón is not expensive, and there are some reasonably priced hotels, like the Amancay. And you will have the chance to see the agricultural revolution carried out by the hippies. They plant from strawberries to tomatoes, and supply both Bariloche and the area south of Puerto Montt.
By the way, you can cross to Chile through lago Puelo, navigating the Puelo river, that holds the Chilean national record for Pacific salmon, 16 kilos or 35 pounds... There is a local motorboat tour at Lago Puelo, a beautiful lake with emerald green water. And you do not need to take fishing tackle. The fishing guide will lend you his road, and trolling costs about half the price it costs in Bariloche, although it is more expensive than at Río Hondo. You might have to pay anything between 15 and 20 dollars per hour of trolling, but two hours are enough to come back with some nice trout. The bus from El Bolsón to Bariloche takes 2 hours and there are some direct services from lake Puelo to Bariloche. There is also a local bus service from El Bolsón to the lake. There are frequent bus services along the highway from Esquel to El Bolsón (Andesmar, Vía Bariloche, El Valle, Mar y Valle, and other companies). They probably run about every 2 hours. Another good spot for fishing would be a stopover at the Foyel river, about half way between El Bolsón and Bariloche. Enjoy your stay in Central Patagonia.
After Gaiman, that conserves intact its Welsh heritage, Trevelin is probably the most important Welsh colonization reference in Argentina. It was founded in 1865, when only Mapuche Indians inhabited this area. Although while crossing from Gaiman to Trevelin they were pursued by Indians, they managed…Read More
After Gaiman, that conserves intact its Welsh heritage, Trevelin is probably the most important Welsh colonization reference in Argentina. It was founded in 1865, when only Mapuche Indians inhabited this area. Although while crossing from Gaiman to Trevelin they were pursued by Indians, they managed to get along pacifically with the Indians in the valley. There is a monument to Malacara, a horse that saved the life of his owner, jumping over a precipice while the Indians were pursuing him. Trevelin is a Welsh word that means "village of the mill" because the first flour mill in all Patagonia functioned here. The mill moved later out of town, and the original building is the place where the Welsh Colonization Museum is now. The same as El Bolsón, there is a micro climate here that allows all sorts of crops. In Spring, tulip plantations dress the valley with a beautiful rainbow of colors.
A visit to the Welsh Colonization Museum is rewarding. I only spent one hour there, but could have enjoyed two or more hours if I had toured the whole museum. There you will see iron wheel tractors, phonographs, hand-made bedspreads, coal stoves, a telephone switchboard, and many other things, including organs, bibles, and many other interesting items. You can also visit Welsh chapels in this area. Just like Gaiman, in the fifties the Welsh Revival (whose main preacher was Evan Roberts) spread over to the Welsh communities in Argentine Patagonia. Most of them today are nearly empty chapels, converted in museums, although other Evangelical groups hold services in these buildings, generally on Sundays. Near to the Museum you have some Welsh tea-rooms. Although I prefer Swiss cakes, these tearooms deserve a visit. Most of them have the "all you can eat" option, at a cost of some 5 to 6 dollars, including tea, coffee, chocolate, pastries, and cakes. Most farms in the area are small (maybe 250 acres at the most) so communitarian work was quite common amongst the farmers. John would help Charles to lift his crop, and then Charles would help John to do the same, since they could not afford the social charges involved in having permanent workers in the farm.
When I visited Trevelin the first time, in 1951, Welsh was spoken more than Spanish. The Welsh community intermarried as much as possible with their own members, in order to conserve Welsh heritage. In the seventies, a huge hydroelectric project was constructed on the Futaleufu river, in the area of the Rapids, that was fascinating. The lake formed by this dam was calle Quime Quipan (lost beauty in Indian language). This dam provides the power for the Puerto Madryn ALUAR aluminum plant, that is the only aluminum plant in all Argentina, that works at its full capacity and exports aluminum to many other countries. Downstream from this dam, fishing must be really fantastic. I am not sure if a fish ladder was constructed or not in this project, but the Río Grande has always been an excellent place for fishing. Buses that go through Futaleufu cross over to Chile, so timetables may give you enough time to spend some hours fishing in the river. If not, it is only 10 miles away from Trevelin, and regular buses run about every hour from Esquel to Trevelin (Vía Trevelin is the name of the company). If you are interested in history, a visit to the Welsh Colonization Museum is a must. And you will also enjoy seeing ancient corners of the village constructed well over a century ago, with the majestic background of the Andes covered with snow, that you can see from any corner in the Village. Welsh heritage, history, landscape, fishing, sightseeing. Combine all these words in one experience, and you will be thinking in Trevelin, the village of the flour mill. Nanty Falls are only ten miles away, the Los Alerces National Park is at a distance of some 20 miles, and fishing in the area is rewarding. Enjoy your stay in Central Patagonia.
This railway is a museum piece that deserves a visit. And travelling on it will take you nearly a century back in history, maybe resembling the Far West railways in the USA. I remember having travelled on this train when the whole trip from Bahia…Read More
This railway is a museum piece that deserves a visit. And travelling on it will take you nearly a century back in history, maybe resembling the Far West railways in the USA. I remember having travelled on this train when the whole trip from Bahia Blanca to Esquel meant sitting 40 hours in the train. That was in 1951, when I was only 11 years old. How my parents allowed me to travel alone at that age is a real mystery. In any case, I had no problems. I used to take the train from Bahia Blanca towards Bariloche, get off at Ingeniero Jacobacci, and change to the narrow gage train at that station. At that time it took 14 hours of winding tracks to cover the 250 miles that separated both stations, stopping at every single railway station in the midst of nowhere. I really enjoyed the trip. It was even then an old steam engine with some four wagons. This railway was inactive for a long time, but recently it was recycled as a tourist train. Those who love old railways will really enjoy it. It does not go the full length, except for organized tours that come from other countries, in which case travelling on this train could be expensive. Now it runs about half the way, from Esquel to El Maitén, and tickets start at 35 pesos (12 dollars) depending on the distance you want to travel. The steam engine was manufactured in 1922, so it is 85 years old. Here are two links so that you can have a look at the train:www.welcomeargentina.com/paseos/trentrochita/index_i.htmlwww.latrochita.org.ar/trochiingles/turismo.htm
When I was at Esquel two years ago, I was more interested in fishing rainbow trout, I had already visited Puerto Madryn (only nine hours away by bus), and was on my way back to Mar del Plata through Bariloche. And this activity did not fit into my schedule. In any case, I had travelled over a dozen times on this relique. The train has still another attraction, but don't repeat it to your children, or you will take the amusement away from the experience. Suddenly "bandits" on horseback will appear from nowhere, will board the train, and simulate a robbery. Those who are not aware may get frightened, but it is only a show to raise charity funds for poor children attending primary schools in Esquel. Once you know the truth, you will smile again, and maybe even congratulate the actors. It is another interesting attraction or experience you can enjoy when you travel to this beautiful area. Enjoy your stay at Esquel.