Wild camping

Futaleufú to Los Alerces National Park

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After spending so much time on Chilean Carretera it is now refreshing watch the scenery on the Argentinian side of Andes as I am slowly entering lakes, rivers and volcanos region of Chile and Argentina. But before I can go to see the highly-recommended Los Alerces National Park, there are things to do in Futaleufú as well.

February 3

The night at the camping is awful. There is a lot of loud music and people speaking till very late. Thus in the morning I am not in a very refreshing mood. Which does not improve after I arrive at rafting agency at 9 am and there is nobody there despite them telling me yesterday that they are open at this time. After a bit more time, I just abandon the attempt and return back to the camping because there is another thing I need to spend time on, namely my bike. Fortunately, I figured out the couple who had bikes in the camping and they have a chain tool so I am kindly borrowing it. I hoped to get mine here in Futaleufú but there is no bike shop in the village and people try to direct me to alternative places but I am out of luck as this is too specialized tool. In any case, after I change the chain I am having a problem with misaligned derailer which causes skipping of the chain. I am playing with it for a very long time until I realize it is not the derailer. Instead, I must have overran the previous chain and my sprocket cogs are worn down more than they should be. This perfectly explains why the chain is skipping only in my favorite gear, which is also the smallest one (so the least amount of tension from the derailer plus the least amount of the cogs the chain can hold to). This is sad news but well, what can I do? In any case, it isn't so bad that I cannot ride the bike and so my plan is to ride it a bit more and then exchange it around Santiago (this is when I will start doing tougher climbs and I thing a bit more cogs on the biggest wheel of the sprocket would be useful). In the evening I am visiting the agency again and they told me that they had a change of plans for today but tomorrow should be good. In any case, they will send me an email late evening.

February 4

Guess what. The "disco night" at the camping is repeating. As well as a the problems with the rafting. As you can guess, I did not receive any email so I arrive at place at 9 am again (already with fully packed bike). And after a while it turns out there is some big mess and I could not go today. To be fair, the mess with the rafting is caused because instead of 5 Iranians as they registered they are 6 now. A raft has only 6 places and splitting the group wouldn't work. So, I am out of luck. My only option is to go later for a shorter ride but I really wanted to do a full-day experience instead a short one (and this is the only agency doing full-day trips, other agencies have only the short option).

In the end I am going with the same agency for the short rafting experience. I am getting a Slovenian guide Ali and the whole group is mostly English-speaking which is good. Ali is a nice guide but it turns out I am not built for rafting. To be sure, it is fun, but definitely not "serious fun" as described by the agency billboard. For my taste there is too little control over what happens and I feel more like in a theme park instead of a whitewater river.

By the time I return from rafting it is already 5 pm and I need to cycle some kilometers. The good news is that from Futaleufú I am on a paved road which is nice. The bad news is that the pavement disappears with the border which is only 10 kilometers away. From there it is a not-so-good ripio. As I am slowly (and noisily) progressing the sun is getting suspiciously low and I need to find a campsite. So when there is a camping sign I don't need too much convincing to turn from the road to find a camping near a river (For now I am not at a point that I would need to wildcamp just to save money but it might eventually happen. By that time I hope to be in cheaper countries than Argentina and Chile.)

Good road from Futaleufú
Rio Futaleufú
Argentinian side has good views too

February 5

I am waking up to a perfect morning in a camp. It even isn't too hot though the Sun can be felt already. I am also learning that some dog marked my tent. Urghh, I think that the next time I see some dog around my tent, the first thing I will do is that I catch the dog and mark it myself, just to be sure it understands who is in charge here.

Morning in the camping
On my left there is a nice mountain

Unlike yesterday's rest of greenery on my way here, today is a typical Argentinian view of gold steppe. As I bike through the damn Argentinian ripio I am getting a shower from two passing cistarnas. I guess their goal is to consolidate ripio and make it less dusty.

I am also making a detour to Nant y Fall, a nice waterfalls 4 kilometers to the side. At the time of choosing the detour I knew little about a road there which is definitely steep up and I almost returned without the waterfalls. But in the end it was worth it. I had a nice lunch near the waterfalls which are quite impressive. Unfortunately, there is no trail which goes very near them so I had to watch only from a distance.

The biggest of three waterfalls in Nant-y-Fall

After the detour and lunch, I am again on an unpleasant ripio which lasts until Trevelin. There I am learning that on the Argentinian side I definitely need more complex planning. It is nearly impossible to get to a village in a middle of a day and buy some stuff as Argentinian towns have a (somehow too exaggerated) siesta time and today being Sunday does not help at all. In the end I am criss-crossing Trevelin, visiting some small kioscos and trying to buy at least some useful food. By the time I am done, it is 5 pm and the siesta is finishing but I need to go further.

By now I am on a completely flat land

From Trevelin I am following a paved road in the direction of Los Alerces National Park. The views are gold but this isn't a complete pampa as I am seeing patches of green as well. To finish the day I am camping around 8 kilometers before the national park on a spot above the main road which means not much noise and very good views. There is even a radio signal there so I am listening to some music.

There is a little bit of uphill I need to do. But the views are excellent.
The green color of trees is most beautiful in the evening
Now this is a good place to camp. Note that there is a bit of an optical illusion as there is a ridge around 20 meters from the tent. That is also where the road lies.

February 6

I again have good views from the start of the day. By 9 am I am entering Los Alerces National Park and I need to pay an entry fee. I guess I am still too used to European go-to-nature-for-free concept. As I am on my way to the information office, I decide to have a shirt hike to a waterfall. The whole trail is around 4 hours but I can see on my GPS that from my side it should be only maybe 1.5 km to the viewpoint over the waterfall. The trail looks unused though and looks like it is marked in the opposite direction. Well, that is not a problem if you have a GPS.

Morning contrast of colors.
Just before the national park

In the end I quickly climb to the viewpoint and just as I am returning back I see a park ranger. Which turns out to be a bad news as he tries to tell me that the trail is closed and that I shouldn't be he. He even takes me a bit in his car (which deepens the bad news as now it looks more serious than just a random encounter) but when he wants to take me to the information center with a bike, I quickly convince him that it is not a good idea (the center being only 3 kilometers away it is not worth dismantling everything from my bike just to be able to lift it to the car). So I follow the car to the information center where there is a ranger which speaks English. He wants to know why I took the trail which I promptly reply is marked in my GPS and also in the pamphlet they gave me at the park entrance. I guess this kind of satisfies the ranger that I am not a complete moron and just tells me that this time it was OK but tells me that I need to check which trails are closed. Which turns out to be pretty much almost every trail in this sector of the park because a year ago there was a big fire here. (Well, I actually passed through a bit of burned trees on my way to the waterfall).

The landscape looks surreal. Later I am learning that this is because there was a big forest fire here the last year.
The waterfall is far and in shadow but still quite a sight.

So instead of some real hiking I am just strolling around a rock paintings (this time not hands but actual paintings), have a lunch and then go the the north to another section of the park. On my way I pass around another waterfall (this trail is definitely open though) and several free campings.

Rock paintings
The road goes on the right bank of this big lake
Another waterfall. This time the trail is officially opened.

Unfortunately, the free campings are too far from the starting point of my tomorrow's plan so I need to go 8 more kilometers to another camping which is paid. And quite expensive. But I am more outraged by the guy behind the reception/bar which just tells me that if I don't like the price I can go back the 8 kilometers. It is "only 20 minutes". Well, I was God at a time I would force him to make the damn 8 kilometers on the ripio in 20 minutes with my bike and look with the satisfaction as he struggles to do it in one hour. Oh, and the bar is super-expensive as well. First I though that the small chocolate (around 50 grams) costs 14 pesos (which is already borderline price for the quality) but when I learn that the guy just does not know how to say properly 40 in English, it is a big no. In any case, I am forced to buy a home-made bread there which is also expensive but at least very good.

As the road goes up and down, sometimes there is a nice view.

To cool my head down after the outrageous prices discussion, I am heading to the river to get a quick swim there. The water is very comfortable. The only problem here is that the current is quite strong and to maintain my position I need to be relatively close to the bank and even then I need to swim constantly.


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Download simplified GPX of a route here

Stats by activity:

Activity Distance
Pedal rotations
bike 127 1.2 26
hike 6 0.3 -
Stats by day:
Date Distance
Avg. temp
(moving, C)
Feb. 4, 2017 20.3 0.13 23.8
Feb. 5, 2017 57.7 0.68 27.6
Feb. 6, 2017 54.9 0.73 24.4

Elevation data

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(drag over a region to zoom in, right-click reset)

The next table is only for cycling activity.

Grade(%)Ascent (km)Descent(km)
< 2 70.3
< 4 9.5 9.1
< 6 4.5 4.4
< 8 2.3 1.8
< 10 1.1 0.7
≥ 10 1.8 1.6

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