Day 21: Route 63 as alternate to 7 Lakes Route

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

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Day 21:  Route 63 as alternate to 7 Lakes Route, Rock paintings!  Villa Traful
Tuesday, December 23rd

Just a few more photos from the terrace before breakfast!
Carolina and Moshe are also at breakfast around the same time.  We engage in a very spirited discussion of how to get peace in the middle east.  We learn that Carolina is a photographer who has done multi-year projects of women and also about Gaza.  Carolina is one of those individuals you meet who has a vibrant energy emanating from her.  We write down web addresses so we can look at each others' photos.
Our plan today is to drive and stay overnight in Villa Traful.  This will take us closer to Bariloche, where we need to be tomorrow to fly back to Buenos Aires. We could return on the Seven Lakes Route, however I have read about these cave paintings that are accessible from Route 63, a dirt road that does lead in the direction of Villa Traful.   We are not sure if we will be able to actually locate the cave, but since it does show on our map, we decide to give it a try.

We pack up the car, write a thank you to all the staff in the guest book, and wave goodbye as we depart the driveway.  We end this portion of our Lake District trip and start another.   An ending opens up possibilities of a new beginning!

From the Rio Hermoso Hotel, we drive on route 63 past Lago Meliquina and we see the village of Meliquina with a few restaurants that would have been nice for lunch.  We continue on past the village. So far on this trip, we have driven on two different types of roads, as indicated on our driving map.  There has been the red or "paved" roads, the red and white or "unpaved" roads, and now we are on white or a "dirt" road.  So far the road appears to be fine and well marked.  There are no other lakes to see on this route, the terrain is mountains with few trees, creating a dramatic landscape.  Clearly, there is not as much rain in this area. Erosion has created interesting rock formations.  I am watching the map carefully, and a short distance after a possible turn off to Hum Hum on Route 64, we actually see a sign "Casa de Piedra", the stone house!  This is what we are looking for!  This is where the cave paintings are!

A short distance past this sign, we park the car on the road where we see a short path on the right leading up to a cave.  We both duck into the cave opening and take a look around.  There is some light streaming in from the cave opening.  We pick out some white and orange markings on the cave wall and as we see them we exclaim "look at this!"  Then the other says "look at this!"  I set up my tripod and start taking exposures of the paintings, while Harvey goes to explore the area around the cave, including the river across the road.  When he returns he has the point & shoot camera with him, sets it for flash and takes a few photos of the cave ceiling.  When we look at these, we are amazed at what other figures can be seen that are not apparent with the naked eye!  "Look at this" is our mantra!  The camera sees things that our eyes do not!  I found information about these cave paintings on the internet and I pull out the printout that says they are 10,000 years old!  We cannot believe that we can just walk up to them like this!  I set up the tripod with long exposures and flash to capture these images.  We are both so excited!  Take a look at our photos!  At some point in time, Harvey says that we need to continue on toward Villa Traful so we both pack up all the camera equipment.  He asks how long I think we have been here; it feels like about 15 minutes, yet Harvey says it has been over an hour!  During this time, to our amazement, no other people have come to the cave.  Time has just flowed!  We could easily have spent more time exploring the area across from the cave, along the river.  But we need to move on!

We continue on Route 63 toward Confluencia where we will pick up Route 65, an unpaved road to Villa Traful (a step up from the dirt road of Route 63).  Route 63 is quite rough and is really for a four wheel drive vehicle, so we are glad we are in a rental car.  There are sections with bad water ruts or where there are steep shoulders that you just don't want to be on, so Harvey stays alert and veers around these hazards.  The rocky road has many steep drop offs, and curves up and down following the contour of the mountains.  The land is sculpture!  Stunning rock formations and few trees make for a dramatic drive.

We arrive in Villa Traful, a very small hamlet, originally laid out by the park service.  We find our lodging for the night, the Puerto Marina Traful, a hotel that has views of the lake and the distant mountains.  It seems like there is one other couple staying here this evening.  Villa Traful offers mostly camping and several cabanas for accommodations.  We  walk around "downtown", the new and old pier, old pier (see photos).   We feel as though we have taken a step back in time.  Villa La Angostura and San Martin de los Andes seem to be on another time zone, so much more developed!

We take a nap and just lounge around until it is time for dinner.  I am on the balcony taking photographs of the most amazing clouds I have ever seen!  The light and wind is changing moment by moment and it is spectacular!  It has been a day of time traveling - from 10,000 year old cave paintings to ephemeral clouds that change shape every second!  Totally incredible!  Both Harvey & I enjoy the show!  It is a fitting end to our time in the Lake District!

Note:  it might have been nice to spend two nights in Villa Traful, so that we could have taken the boat trip across the lake and then hiked to the rock painting, or walked to the waterfall.  That would have given us a chance to see more of the area and not just drive in and then leave. 

Our hotel review is at the end of the journal entries for the Lake District.  We think we would have preferred to stay in a cabana that may have offered more quiet accommodations.

Today's photos!  Two sets!
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