Sunday, July 12, 2009

(Semi)Dream Trips, Vol. 5: Roadtripping Argentina

Photo: advencap

The Dream

The modifier "semi" is stuck onto the title of this dream trip not because I'm only semi-dreaming about it. Rather, it's practically more in the realm of reality than dream. Yup, it's definitely got a foot in the door.

As I write this, I'm sitting in a pleasant gas-heated "projects" house in the city of Esquel, Argentina. A quick look at a country map and you'll see that's right on the edge of a true realm of dreams: Patagonia. (On the map to the right, Esquel is about 200km south of San Carlos de Bariloche.)

Jagged, snowy mountains ring the little pocket of valley where the town sits, imposing the power of this landscape on me wherever I look. Somehow, my gaze always falls south, where it appears as though it's perpetually snowing--the sky casting deep blue shadows on the peaks.

Esquel is the farthest south I've ever been, so that vista represents a frontier, one that I want desperately to explore.

What better way than on a roadtrip? It makes sense, after all, since public transport services can be sketchy at best at the southern tip of the world. Four-wheel drive will be a necessity, as much so as carrying spare water and fuel.

The Trip

The itinerary begins in Bueons Aires, naturally, where it should be easiest to procure a vehicle for the journey. From the capital, a coastal route meanders along the contours of the Atlantic. Puerto Madryn (on the bay due east from Esquel) is known for its wildlife, including endangered wright whales, and will be the first major stop.

From there, I'll just follow the road till it ends. A ferry is required to get to the true end of things in Ushuaia, which coincidentally is the jumping off point for Dream Trip Vol. 3 (hmm...).

Heading north again along the opposite border will take me through the spectacular Glaciers National Park (which actually features some glaciers, as opposed to Montana's version) and Chile's Torres del Paine National Park, whose unique mountain formations were recently featured in The World's Most Alien Landscapes, a photo essay I published on Matador Trips.

After that, a re-visit of provincial Esquel, some time in hippified El Bolsón, a chocolate shopping spree in European Bariloche, and then up to Mendoza for a bicycle tour through Argentina's premier wine country. Cap that off with an exploration of colonial Córdoba and the Andean villages around Salta, and I'll be ready to finish the journey at another of the country's premier attractions: Igauzú Falls.

Photo: Feffef

Considering I'm currently in Argentina and can gaze at some of the destinations of this dream trip daily, chances are I'll be writing about it from a different perspective before long.


Anonymous said...

Make dream a reality! Looks phenomenal...when we ever make it to SA, I'll be hitting you up for all the goodies.

Kathy Amen said...

Sounds like an amazing trip--sort of following in Darwin's footsteps! Would it be possible/desirable to do in the winter, though? If not, I suppose that means a longer stay in South America for you? (And btw, I *think* Montana's Glacier Park still has some, but not for long 8-( .)

hal said...

@Carlo - Do it soon and we might actually get to meet each other in the "real" world :)

@Mom - Yeah, but I read they're so small now that they're practically gone already. At least the landscape they carved will live on.

Joan Elsner said...

Go for the dream, Hal, and safe journey!

aya said...

ready to hit the road!