The charm of the Fuegian Andes

As the truck moved along National Route No. 3 to the north, my fascination with the landscape increased. I felt that my senses weren’t enough to appreciate the magnitude and wild beauty of the Fuegian Andes.

Esmeralda Lagoon

I got off at Valle de Lobos, 18 kilometers from the center, to go to Esmeralda Lagoon. The path presented no difficulty in the section that crossed the forest. The path presented no difficulty in the section that crossed the forest. The problems came in the peat bog, where the signaling was not entirely clear.

I remembered the warning of the marriage I had met in the Park and, immediately, I understood them words. Without indications or anyone in front to follow, I sent myself and messed up, literally. Almost half my left leg sank into the peat bog. Luckily, a woman helped me out and pointed me in the right direction.

I continued, ttraying to follow some directions that I couldn´t see. When I accepted that the blue pipes are not distinguishable at a distance, I lowered the rhythm to have a person who walked front. Finally, I arrived at Laguna Esmeralda, which owes its name to the color of its waters.

Kayak at sunset

After washing clothes, cleaning the boots and taking a shower, I prepared for what I promised to be an unforgettable experience: kayak at sunset in Escondido Lake. Together with Walter from Ushuaia Safari, two couples of Brazilians and a South African girl, we left for the adventure.

Our first stop was in Valle de Lobos, where Walter loaded supplies and offered us an alfajor and something hot to drink. Then, we return to National Route No. 3 to Garibaldi Pass, the southernmost mountain crossing in the country. There we stopped to contemplate the Escondido Lake and, behind, the Fagnano Lake. We took the photographs to immortalize the moment and we started off again.

Paso Garibaldi
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We went down to the coast of Escondido Lake, we put the equipment and up to the kayaks. Together with Tracy, the girl from South Africa, we were the first to enter the lake, which gave us some more time to practice. It was the second time in my life that I got into a kayak. The first had been almost five years ago, so I couldn’t lie to myself: technique wasn’t my forte.

Submerged trees, rocks and plants were part of the landscape, which added an infinite sky, millennial forests and imposing mountains. With some deviation, we crossed the lake and came back to the strong land on the opposite shore. Walter gave us 15 minutes to go around and take pictures, the time it took to organize the shelter, light the fire to cook and serve the “picada” that we accompany with red wine and shared between anecdotes of travel, laughs and suggestions of destinations.

Spices, bread, knives and other kitchen items came out of two magic bags that seemed to have no bottom. Meanwhile, the meat took color in the disc and seduced us with its aroma. When the meal was ready, we dined by the fire and drank from the shared experience.

Walter took care to leave the shelter in the same conditions we had found it and he distributed flashlights to each one. We put the equipment and returned to the kayaks. On that occasion, I made a group with Fred.

We paddled in the dark and enjoyed the sounds of nature, interrupted only by our passage. Once we reach the shore, we store the equipment, up to the van and take National Route No. 3 south to return to Ushuaia.

Text and photos of  Gabriela Naso.

 

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