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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Camping at Rio Arrayanes Chubut

We went camping on the weekend to the Parque Nacional Los Alerces. The park borders the Lago Futalaufquen and was created in 1937 as a National park. We are so lucky in Esquel as it is less than an hours drive away from where we are living. We left Friday morning after having to wait for an hour in a queue to get petrol (it seems everyone wanted to enjoy the weekend and get out). However we arrived to the park before midday.
We packed enough food for a few days, chorizo, bread that Jas made, pasta, tomato sauce, potatos for baking in the open fire, instant oats for breakfast, nutella to have with bread, sugar, tea, spanish chorizo and lentils.

The water in the Rio and the whole Parque is absolutely aqua blue. There is a glacier close by and the water is ice cold. There are snow capped mountains surrounding the park and forests with native trees such as Alerces, Arrayanes, Coihues everywhere. It is an amazing beautiful place.

On Friday we went for a walk along the shore and went to visit the old Lahuan tree. It is an old alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides), -big old trees that grow for more than 3000 years- and are known for their excellent wood. The alerce genus name Fitzroya cupressoides is named after Captain Robert Fitzroy who was the captain of the  HMS Beagel when Charles Darwin went travelling around the world on his famous voyage, and who later lived in New Zealand and killed himself an unhappy man.

Colihue bamboo plants (caña coligüe) is another common plant that grows in the Valdivian forests and flowers every so often, the last time in this area was 60 years ago. It seems the plants had previously flowered when we were there, (they flowered in 2011). The problem is when the colihue flowers,there are thousands of seeds, and this causes a proliferation in the number of the native rat "Raton Colilargo". The seeds are eaten by the Raton Colilargo that are also vectors for the fatal virus that kills humans called hantavirus.

These trees are the Arrayanes, that are named after the river. They are cinnamon in colour and grow by the water. Their bark is so beautiful and soft.

It is actually our neighbour and his wife who have leased the spot and he has turned the place into a very family friendly environment. When we used to camp there 9 years ago there was no toilet or proveduria (where you buy fresh bread and pantry needs like rice or canned tomato or beer) and no toilets, we just went to the toilet in the "Mint forest" as we called it.

Our first campsite was like a wood cutters zone, the Coihue had come down last winter and it was being dried and cut up. The kids enjoyed playing among the wood and debris though and we used bits of large wood chunks as tables. Rio Arrayanes camping spot is great, there are new tables for each site and a stone fireplace.

Now There is plenty of wood around and Jas and Joaquin were always off finding wood to put in the fireplace so we could boil water and cook our food.


For lunch on Friday we had cheese, avocado and mayonaise sandwiches.
For dinner on Friday I made a lentil and vegetable stew which was so delicious. After putting the kids to bed at night (at 11pm). When i got out of the tent to sit by the fire with Jas, I looked up into the sky, there was so many stars, so much brilliance and I happen per chance to see the International Space Station sail by.

Our new campsite, next door to the "wood heap campsite" was better, more green grass, shade in the middle of the day and a bit more cozier. The thing is we only stayed one day at this spot as on Sunday it rained and rained and we packed up and left.

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