After our late night last night, we had a bit of a lie in and only left the hotel at 10am. At breakfast the old lady who’s also staying at the hotel came and had a chat with us. She’s Belgian, was born in China, her father was an engineer for an Anglo-Chinese company, and grew up in Argentina, lived in Austria for 23 years and is now back in Argentina. Her family had a house in Villa Mascardi and she now comes to the hotel on holiday at least once a year.
Our plan for today is to go for a walk starting at the Pampa Linda. This was a two hour drive from the hotel over dirt track roads that seem to be a feature of the Argentine countryside. Oh for the love of a 4x4. Our plan was to walk up to the Meitling Refugio which shows as a five hour walk on our map. Talking to the ranger we changed our plan (the walk is five hours each way) and headed instead along the path to the glacier Castaño Overo.
The first part of the walk took us to the Golden Gate Bridge, a small metal bridge spanning the river. Bits along the way were flooded and Stef showed excellent mountain goat tendencies and navigated us safely (and dryly) across. We felt sure here that we could cope with the five hour walk as we had done the first 3km in 45mins rather than the hour expected.
But we were in for a shock. Our poor reading of the map had led us to believe we’d be walking along the valley floor but very soon the path began to climb, and climb, and climb. Fortunately the path took a direct line up the hill and every time it crossed the “road” I could take much needed rests to catch my breath. We were walking through jungle quite similar to Yacutinga except that it was dry, warm and sunny, not humid. There were some pretty hairy bits along the way. At one point we had to cross a five metre drop with only partial tree trunks to walk along and bamboo to hold onto for balance. Not easy when you’re still getting used to your walking boots! There were also a couple of trunks across the path to climb over. One was so big I had to lie on it and slide off the other side – Stef has the picture.
After 2½ hours we reached the crossing for the Meitling Refugio or the glacier. By this time I was knackered and the prospect of more climbing didn’t appeal (we’d climbed up 600 or 800 metres). The path to the glacier was easier going and within the expected 30 minutes we’d reached the end of the forest.
The scenery changed to rocky scrub covered in heather. Stef pushed on (much to my dismay) to find a good point to view the glacier and have lunch. The view was stunning. Sheer cliff face topped with ice with streams of melting glacier running down. The ice was so pure it looked blue in parts. It was also incredible how much colder it was, up here especially as our rocky point became shaded rather than sunny.
We had our lunch, jamon y queso sandwiches and mate, and started the walk back down. As soon as we were back in the jungle we heard a big rumble and realised a part of the glacier had crumbled away. We missed it by about ten minutes.
The walk back was much easier and we made it back to the car by 6pm as planned. We both felt very self-righteous that we’d been walking for the best part of five hours. Whilst we felt good we were also knackered and really fancied an early night. But the quality of food at the hotel led us back into Bariloche and we went back to the same place and had cheese fondue.
Back at the hotel we were in bed by about 11.30. Looking forward to our next adventure: pesca a la trucha.