San Carlos de Bariloche, Villa Traful, San Martin de los Andes -205Km (Total 1984km cycled)
Highlights: Chocolate, Crema de Mani ice cream, Le Tandem, lakes, ash and volcanoes.
Day 105-106 – April 22-23 : Peanut ice Cream
Leaving Bariloche is harder than you think. We arrived mid-afternoon and cycled 13km out of town to the only campsite still open – they are packing up for the season already.
By happy coincidence, here we found Win, a young Dutch cycle tourer at 69, whom we’d met in Puerto Natales a lifetime ago. After a some catching up, hot showers and food we went to bed for a very cold night’s sleep.
It took some time to get going in the morning so we arrived into town in the late afternoon. There’s no real reason to rush when you need shops and they don’t open until after the siesta. We hunted around town trying to find a warm sleeping bag. Peli’s has a broken zip and the down has started to crawl south so she is cold at night and it’s getting colder at night where we are heading. Some shops had already closed for the season and others just had thin summer sleeping bags. We weighed up the options and settled for one fleecy blanket each and hoped that in Pucon, Chile, we would find a better-suited sleeping bag, only eight days away.
After many shops and hours of hunting (we’re not used to this shopping marlarky) we rested our legs in a ice cream parlour. We tried out the Crema de Mani ice cream which was ever so yummy.
By this time it was too late to ride out of town to a wild camp spot. So, we went to the hostel by the lake where we knew we’d find the French tandem, who again greeted us with open arms. Bernard carried our luggage up to our room with a cheeky, “J’ai l’habitude de porter vos sacoches!” What would we do without him?!
We were too tired to cook, so we headed to a local pizza restaurant where we met Petersen, the owner, who was originally from Denmark. He confirmed that the Ruta de los Siete Lagos was very “linda” (they simply love that word down here) and not to be missed.
Day 107 – April 24 : Volcanoes
We got up and rushed to the ice cream shop to get our fix of peanut butter ice cream before we went shopping for the next few days riding.
As we headed out of town we were flagged down by a local man in a 2CV who told us that he runs a Casa de Ciclistas in Bariloche, his little farm-come-bakery. He bakes organic rye bread and sells it in town every day. It should be around 8km out of town, but exactly where I can’t tell you, since I didn’t get the details and didn’t see a sign on our way out of Bariloche.
There was only one long climb out from town and the lake and then it was flat with rolling hills overlooking a beautiful river. 55km later we settled in an idyllic wild camping spot next to the river away from the road.
Our new fleeces worked a treat, since we had to take layers off during the night.
Day 108 – April 25 : Home made bread
We took our time setting off in the morning. Our beds were too comfy and it was a nice little spot to chill for a bit with the views over the river.
The ride north before our turnoff was truly stunning. No wind or traffic with the sun shining and beautiful volcanic mountains to take our breath away.
The old towers of lava reaching to the blue sky distracted us, making it rather hard to ride on the ripio. The softness of the surface was from the ash that covered the whole area after the eruption of the local volcanoes.
In Villa Traful we arrived just as the baked bread came out of the oven, which made a nice change for our dinner that night. We were too tired to even try to reach the free camping 16km further along before darkness, so we settled at a campsite in town, where Peli managed to haggle a good deal since there weren’t any hot showers. Villa Traful is a pretty little village – rather touristy, but a great base for local walks near the beautiful turquoise waters of Lago Traful.
Day 109 – April 26 : Tandem hunting
The next morning we started to hunt down the French tandem, since they had made very fresh tracks in the sand and ash. We saw the tell tale signs of slips and slides here and there, as they’d also found the deep sand tricky.
The road had some short sharp bits in the forest and as we joined the road from Villa La Angostura, the road became rolling again and the ripio better. At 45km our legs were tired and every spot that shouted “Camp on me” had a sign saying “Do not camp on me!” We decided that it would be good to obey the signs seeing as we’d seen the park police driving past us a few times all ready.
Just before a climb we found the French tandem resting, they too had taken their time and enjoyed the views and sandy ripio.
We climbed the hill to find tarmac again just above the top, and rolled the last kilometres down to the free campsite making 54km for the day. Not bad given a late start, hard hills and that it was impossible to ride on the sand/ash covered ripio.
The campsite was next to Lago Falkner with panoramic views of the mountains around it. Too bad the sky was not blue, but it was nevertheless a stunning campsite.
We enjoyed a hot chocolate with Priscille and Bernard, Team French Tandem, before climbing into bed. Unfortunately, due to the damp cold, Peli struggled with her asthma during the night, so we were pleased when the temperature raised a little in the morning.
Day 110 – April 25 : Cold climbing
The tandem got up before us, which shocked us into a yet another late start, so we left the campsite 30 min after the tandem and never recovered.
The next 30 km saw us beating our altitude record three times, with the final peak clocking up 1178 metres above sea level, before a 15km long swooping downhill. We’d have enjoyed this so much more if the sun had been out, rather than a frosty wind with a sprinkling of rain right into our faces.
Once we arrived in San Martin de Los Andes, we didn’t waste much time finding a place to get a warm shower and a bed indoors.
To see more photos click here to go our gallery : Ruta de los Siete Lagos