Day 14: Los Arrayanes National Park

Trip Start Dec 02, 2008
Trip End Dec 26, 2008

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Day 14:  Los Arrayanes National Park, Villa La Angostura, El Faro
Tuesday, December 16th

When we enter the breakfast room at 10AM, we are the first guests of the morning!  A few minutes later, however two other couples arrive.  We are now fully on Argentina time!

We meet Fernando and Cecilia who we spoke with briefly yesterday morning. - they speak English and are from Buenos Aires.  It seems we both had gone to the waterfall yesterday, but we didn't see each other!  We learned that they created a video and stills with music of their trip to Cuba, taking several hours of images and editing it down to a thirty-minute presentation.  Fernando has us laughing about technology and how quickly it changes - about high definition, plasma, blue ray, new cameras, etc.  He and I are both into cameras, getting new gear and selling the old.  Harvey talks about his search for a jazz guitar and how the wood matures and mellows, and once you find a special one, he stays with it for years and years.  Very different!

We're both going on the boat trip to Los Arrayanes National Park today.  It is on a peninsula.  The largest section of arrayanes trees are on the tip of the peninsula, so people usually take a boat trip over there and return.  We have decided that we'll take the boat in one direction and walk back to Villa La Angostura.  We discuss the weather and if it makes sense to take the boat over and walk back, or walk and take the boat back.  There is a reduced boat schedule today, we assume since the summer tourist season hasn't quite started yet.  We decide to take the 2:30 boat trip and then walk back since we will not have any schedule to keep and it gets dark late.  We will have plenty of time to walk the 12 km back to town; the concierge at El Faro told us that it takes approximately three hours.

After breakfast, we return to the room to leisurely do our thing.  I look at a photo book of Patagonian flora and fauna and try to identify what we have seen.   I have been intrigued by the tree trunks that have an outgrowth of fungus; it is named "Cyttaria Darwini".  I identify these trees:  alerce or lahuan (abuelo in Mapuche) - it is the Patagonia Cypress, means grandfather in the Mapuche language; arrayan or myrtle; deciduous forests with varieties of beech and cypress.  We have seen the lupine flower, cana coligue or solid stemmed bamboo, lichen and some moss.  We have also seen: bumble bee, horsefly, rabbit and cows.  With all the pages of bird photos, I was not able to match anything we have seen with a photo.  Clearly, my observation is more attuned to plants and trees than birds! 

About 12:30, we figure it is time to pick up some lunch in town and make our way to the boat dock.    Only at lunch, eating pizza and salad, do I realize that the intention for today, I did yesterday - I'm losing track of the days of the week as one flows into the next!  I guess this is a clear indication that the days are flowing!  Now I have two days to practice the intention -  "The sun radiates and shines and expects nothing in return."
If you squint and don't look at the signs, the boat dock area for Villa La Angostura seems like New England.  At the National Park office, we purchase the tickets to the park and at the boat dock, we purchase the tickets for the boat ride (note reservations can be made at (02944) 494004; the website is  Although the guiding is fully in Spanish, you get the gist of the information.  The boat hugs the coastline of Villa La Angostura and you get to see properties that are hidden from the road.  Take a look at the photos of the one hour boat ride!

What makes the Los Arrayanes National Park worth the visit is the opportunity to see the world's best stand of myrtle woodland, which is found at the far tip of the Quetrihue Peninsula, the narrow peninsula that juts into the Lago Hanuel Huapi from Villa La Angostura. The land is covered with dense forests of coihue, radal and unusual species such as palo santo that has rich glossy foliage and an ashy grey bark.  The arrayan is a slow-growing tree that has a flaky, cinnamon-colored, paper-like bark and an interesting trunk that look more like brown-beige clustered columns.  They can reach heights of up to 15m and live for three hundred years, although some may be as old as 600 years.  They only grow close to cool water. As someone who is attracted to trees, coming here was a must in planning our itinerary!

When the boat docks at the tip, the group guiding continues around the 600 meter boardwalk that passes through the arrayane forest.   We have met up with Ferdinand and Cecilia from El Faro and together we walk the boardwalk at our own pace, taking photos of each other and yes, of the trees that nicely pose for us.   Included in the fee of our boat ride is a cup of hot chocolate at the gift shop, so we sit on some picnic tables and indulge ourselves.  Anything chocolate in Argentina is worth trying and is not disappointing!
There is only one path that one can walk back to Villa La Angostura.  It is not difficult, with moderate uphills and downhills, following the hilly nature of the terrain.  As we approach the Villa there is a lookout and then the only steep descent back to the boat dock area.  We are back at our cars around 8:30 PM.
Harvey walks with Ferdinand and I walk with Cecilia.    We keep a good pace and by the end my feet are a bit sore and throbbing.

Before returning to El Faro, we stop off for a quick bite to eat in town.  Later in the evening, Fernando comes to our room and uploads his photos for the day.  He captured some good group photos of us and we wanted a copy!  Take a look at our photo gallery to get a feel for the 12km walk on the peninsula back to town.

We enjoy the bite of chocolate left for us by the hotel, turn off the light and we're asleep - just like that!

Today's photos!
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