Posted by: tylereddy | May 29, 2013

Into the Andes

A few kilometres from Plaza Huincul we cruised down the highway with a rotisserie chicken carcass bouncing on the dash like a bobble head. As we munched on sandwiches we crested a hill and captured our first glimpse of the Andes Mountains. For a moment we were awestruck, surrounded by beautiful dessert outcrops with the Andes looming in the distance. For the next hours we pressed towards the mountains eager to see more, and not entirely sure what to expect. We were not disappointed.

Our first glimpse of the Andes - chicken carcas removed for clarity.

Our first glimpse of the Andes – chicken carcas removed for clarity.

The road was paved to the foothills town of Zapala where we fuelled up and engaged in some interesting way-finding as we drove around and around a traffic circle. Each time we circled we read the sign and discussed which road was the proper one. By lap three we finally discovered that the destinations on the sign were both the same, but the routes and distances were different. One final lap to confirm our choosing and we were off. It was an interesting conversation. We chose not to complete a fifth lap to photograph the sign.

“Look kids it’s Big Ben.”

Outside of Zapala we entered the foothills on gravelled, or maybe better described as a bouldered road. One thing lead to another and next thing you know we were in love…with the Andes. Every turn provided another amazing vista, a different rock outcrop, a gaucho on a horse, a sprawling valley, forests of pines, rivers, mesas. It was gorgeous, open, deserted. It seemed that there were fifty different types of rock. One turn would reveal dull sedimentary layers, the next a moonscape, the next a tower of volcanic rock. It was bizarre, and beautiful. Our rented VW golf Moufetta Blanca bounced down the road and clung to the mountansides as it kicked the odd boulder into the giant precipices below. A few times we rounded corners the road disappeared behind a tight turn. Between the distractions of the amazing vistas and the road conditions it was, at times, a white-knuckle drive.  Somehow E2 slept the whole time.

One if the many ever-changing

One of the many ever-changing views.

and another

…and another

...and another.

…and another.

As the windswept grasses gave way to giant pines glowing in the late day sun we finally arrived at the small town of Villa Pehuena on Lago Alumine. After a good nights rest we drove right to the crater lake of an inactive volcano. While it didn’t erupt our minds were blown. The cutting Andean wind tried to blow us off the mountainside but the beauty left us clinging on to enjoy the views for just another moment. It was astounding. The only other life was a curious little fox who stalked us closely hoping for a crust to fall from our backpacks.

View from the volcano.

View from the volcano.

E1 was elated to have collected a rock that floats. A “volcanical rock” which he will long treasure as a souvenir of his first visit to a vlocano. Somehow E2, again, slept through the whole thing.

A volcano has since become active and began spewing ash. We hope that everybody is okay, as our days in Villa Pehuena were the most tranquil of our trip so far.



  1. It sounds like you are having a great time. Love the updates. Safe travels!

  2. Enjoyed the write-up as usual. You are a gifted writer for sure! Loved the pictures and reminded me much of our trip home from California as we enjoyed all the varied colours of the many mountains we saw. One mountain on one side of the road would be a very different colour than the mountain on the other side of the road. Hey, I hope you didn’t ear too much off that chicken carcass if it sat on the dash for very long! Hugs to E1 and E2!

  3. Oops, I see a typo—meant, “don’t eat too much of that chicken. . .”

  4. Ahhhhh, hello Eddy’s. Your week sounds much more zen-like than mine.

  5. We are really enjoying your stories of adventure……the pics are great too.hopeyour mom will be able to find you!!!!!!! Can’t wait for the next installment

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