Laguna Varvarco Campo
After much debating and planning we decide to make our way to the Laguna Varvarco Campo. One of those places that is not described anywhere in the camping guides we have nor have we read about anybody else going there. First we try to continue further north from the hot springs on RP43. While the scenery is great and we pass by some very remote farm houses the road get’s interrupted by a wide and fast flowing river. Yes, the street continuous on the other side but there is no way we can cross over with our car. This means that we need to drive back to Varvarco and take RP54. Before we make the final decision we stop by the tourist office in the little village. We want to know if it is possible to drive up to the laguna and from there continue via the RP53. Something showing on our local map but not even our navigation system seems to know the connection between the two roads that leads across a mountain range.
The friendly lady in the tourist office tells us stories about how great it is up there but we should only do the drive if we are up for an adventure. We think we are! So she advises us to check out the road condition with the last police station in Pichi Neuquen as there are several river crossings and it depends on the water levels if this is possible or not.
The way up to the police control which is combined with a control of the Guardafauna is quite good and we get there rather fast. There we ask the guys if the road ahead is ok. As they don’t tell us we are out of our minds immediately but confirm that this is a very beautiful area we feel ok to continue. Only as the guy from the Guardafouna mentions that most likely it will take us another two hours to get there we wonder if we understood him correctly. It is only another 50 km or so. Two hours for such a distance? Well, let’s see.
Soon afterwards we realize what he means. There are quite a few river crossings we need to pass and the road get’s rougher by the meter we drive. Not that the crossings are very deep but Michael is checking out almost every crossing before we drive through. Despite this on one of the last ones before we reach the laguna we hit a sharp rock and one of our tires is flat immediately. We have two spare ones so it is not a problem just a hassle on those gravel roads. The standard high jack that comes with the car is not of much use either and so it takes much longer as really needed to change the tyre. Hey, this is the first ever flat tyre for us after thousands of kilometers on rough roads. So nothing really to complain. Especially as it turns out the tyre was already repaired already at the very same spot where it got damaged.
It's not very deep - but you don't know until you really go through it
This is one of the most impressive scenery we drive through on this trip
Ups ... here goes the first flat tire on our trips through South America
Much later than anticipated we get there and it's worth the drive - definitely
4 - 4
Quite a bit later as expected we finally arrive at the laguna and the sun is setting already. The Guardafauna told us a good place to camp but we are so late that we just drive down to the water and decide to stay there despite the fact that it is a rather windy spot. Just a few minutes after we get there a car pulls up from the local Guardafouna with two women and one guy. They immediately hug and kiss us as we would be old friends they have not seen in a long time. What a warm welcome, how fantastic is this.
As it turns out are two laguna one that is bigger and one that is smaller. The small one is called Tapia and there the Guardafouna is located. They suggest to camp down there as there is no wind. We also get invited immediately for a Mate, a hot oven as it is pretty cold outside and we could use their hot showers if we wanted to. The further you enter remote areas with not a lot of traffic and tourists the more friendly people get. Something we discovered on our last trip as well.
Over a round of Mate we tell our story of how we travel and the Guardafouna share some more details with us about the road conditions ahead of us. According to them the road does not get any worse but there is one very steep section that you can only do with a good 4x4. They are so anxious about us getting over this steep uphill section that they tell us to call them back once we have reached the first farm on the other side of the mountain. So there is a connection that is shown on one of the maps!
The next morning we continue towards the steep section and they are right, it is pretty steep but the bigger problem are the loose rocks all over the path. Very slowly we make our way up the hill and get there without any major problems in the end. Why we didn’t stay for another night is something that we only wonder a bit later. We came all this way and did not even try to go hiking around this very beautiful laguna and scenery. While we didn’t see any marked paths we are sure you can do some great hiking up here. Next time ...
What a warm welcome from the Guardafauna located at the laguna
Does not look steep - trust me, it really was
Are we really on the right path - guess so as it is the only one visible
Almost down in the valley again after some rough terrain
4 - 4
At some point on our journey we really wonder if it was a good decision to continue on this path because it is not much more than that. In our opinion it is in a much worse condition compared the road coming here the day before. Very slowly and through many more river crossings we get down to the next valley. The overall scenery is really breath taking and in the end we are very happy that we came this long way. The next valley holds a river that is getting bigger and wider as we drive further. The scenery is really stunning and different to what we have seen before.
Initially we thought we would make it to the next village of Barrancas but at some point we realize that it makes no sense to try and rush through this beautiful landscape again. Much earlier in the afternoon than usual we look for a nice spot to camp for the night. Directly located at the river we find a somewhat sheltered place next to an old farm house that has been abandoned long time ago. The large trees provide us with some shade as it is super hot in the sun. Only the midges that are very aggressive are somewhat annoying. Otherwise this is one of our favorite camping spots we had on this trip so far. The whole day we only saw two cars which means we have this whole area for us alone. It also means no lights anywhere and we can enjoy this amazing and very clear sky with the millions of stars. We can’t really get enough of this view as back in Europe there are almost no places anymore with such clear skies and no distortion through any light sources.
This beer is well earned! ;-)
Our place for the night next to an abandoned farm house.
It's only us and this breathtaking landscape - and some mitches ...
Finally - back on a regular road and heading further north on RN 40.
4 - 4
The next day after a few more hours of driving on tiny roads we suddenly hit again RN 40 just outside of Barrancas. We are happy that we made it as one of the Guardafouna was concerned that our fuel would not last until the next gas station. Michael was convinced that it should be no problem according to the map which turned out to be true in the end. In fact we noticed a few times in those remote areas that asking locals for distances provides you with very different answers. Most of them being not even close to reality. Not sure why that is though.