The lake at San Martin
The road from Pucon to Bariloche was very pretty, a winding paved and unpaved road that crossed the border at the base of Volcan Lanin. After changing buses in San Martin the bus continued onto Seven Lakes Drive through some of Parque Nacional Lanin passing some deserted mountain lakes and heavily wooded forests. The time of day was perfect for getting some afternoon sun on the lakes as it began to dip behind the mountains. The views of the lakes as the sun was setting were amazing, with the mountains bordering the lakes illuminted with the red-orange light of the fading sun. Not long after dark the lights of Bariloche came into view from across the massive lake, with lights stretching in each direction for some distance.
Heart Island in the middle of the blue-green water of Lago Mascardi
Bariloche itself is a modern resort area with loads of chocolate stores, restaurants, and trendy shops, with lots of German, Italian, and American influences. Even though it was the beginning of the off-season things were still really crowded. The strange thing about Bariloche is that for some reason it happens to be the Israeli backpacker capital of South America. There are signs in many hostels and restaurants in Hebrew and in the most popular nightspot in town, probably a third of the people in there on a Friday night were speaking Hebrew. It defies all logic that there could be so many Israelis there for a country of only six million people. In the town itself there really wasn´t much to see or do, other than shop and eat. Outside of town there is some beautiful scenery though.
Ventisquero Negro - the black glacier
I took a one day tour out to see Cerro Tornador, Ventisquero Negro, a black glacier, and some of the nearby lakes which was really great. The scenery at the one lake, Lago Mascardi, was so nice, there was a heart-shaped island in the center (Isla Corazon) surrounded by water of the most beautiful shade of greenish-blue. Past several more lakes we reached the vantage point for the black glacier. A mass of dirty blackish colored ice at the foot of a large mountain with glaciers rising up the slopes of the mountian feeding various waterfalls down the face. At the base of the glacier there is a lagoon filled with rocks and miniature icebergs and tan colored water. A kilometer further down the road on the other side of the same mountain is the face of Cerro Tornador, a shear rock cliff capped with white and sky blue glaciers that melt to form dozens of cascading waterfalls down the rock faces, a scene truly out of the Lost World.
The waterfalls on Cerro Tornador
The thick cloud cover above the mountain obscured most of the glaciers but occasional clearings revealed some of the icy masses. A trail led up the base of the biggest waterfall and the cold mist from blue water was carried by the wind right into your face, a refreshing change after sitting in the minibus for the morning. After seeing so many lakes in these past few days I´m ready to get onto the ocean and continue south down to Patagonia, but with several days to spend before the ferry leaves I´ll go back to Chile, for the third time, and check out the small towns on the island of Chiloé, then catch the ferry south.