Crossing the Andes

Crossing the Andes

These Andes Mountains are really something spectacular.  They stretch from the far north of South America in Venezuela all the down through Chile and Argentina.  We are traveling from the west side, leaving Chile behind, and crossing the mountains over to Argentina. Apparently, it was done in 1916 by Teddy Roosevelt by mule, and by Che Guevara in 1952 on a Norton motorcycle taking 29 days. It won’t be easy, but we are leaving Puerto Varas at 7am, and will be taking a bus- a boat, a bus – a boat, a bus, a third boat, and a fourth and final bus to our destination of Bariloche.  It’s the only way to cross other than flying.  It’s all about the journey today and not the destination.

Llamas on the side of the road

Who knew that Chile was a land of 2000 volcanos, 90 of them active, 2 of them very active.  The last one to blow in this area was in 2015, blowing sand and ash four times higher than the volcano is high, with 20” landing all over everything, enough to cave in rooftops of buildings.  This national park is covered with black ash with amazing turquoise blue waters from the mineral deposits.

Osorno Vocanic National Park and Petrahue rapids

Crossing these mountains takes us into uncharted territory as far as civilization goes.  There are no roads for cars around the borders of these lakes, so the only way to get across is by boat across the lakes through these mountains.

Double decker catamarans to cross the lakes

These breathtaking vistas leave you speechless really.  The Andes are the among the  highest mountains, second only to the Himalayas.  It’s like a combination of Yosemite together with Lake Tahoe.  It’s just oh so beautiful!!  This area gets 220 days of rain a year so everything is very green, with clouds forming some amazing formations across the water.

Crossing the lakes

So there are a few crazies who love to live in lovely spots along the lakes.  Crazy because they are totally out in the wilderness, they have no running water and no electricity.  They have to collect rain water (of which they get a lot) and have generators to power lights.  Once a month they connect with these boats that we are on, to go to town (half a day away) to buy a month’s supply of groceries.  They really like living way out on their own.  There are approximately 1000 people living on the edge of these lakes like this.  What do you think?!  Would you want to do this?  Do they even have internet?  And yes…this is the real color of the water…it’s the minerals in the snow melt that comes from the glaciers of the Andes.

Living in isolation
Crossing at the border into Argentina
Che Guevara – “The Motorcycle Diaries”

We finally made it to Argentina…it took slightly over twelve hours to reach Bariloche, which is now in the dark, but it was a breathtaking, scenic journey of mountains and lakes fairly untouched by civilization.  It took 5 buses and 3 boats to cross the lakes but we made it across the Andes to the other side.  Just gorgeous through the entire day…

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Monie Thompson