Let’s just be clear, we cycled the 7 Lagos route in Argentina, not the one (with the exact same name) in Chile (which happens to be just right on the other side of the border). For some reason we counted more than seven lakes en route…
We never thought we would actually end up cycling this touristy stretch. Here is how it happened in the end.
After our little volcano exploration we bumped into Danny and Tam again, who had picked up two friends in Pucón. Chris and Hannah had been wwoofing there but spontaneously decided to buy a couple of bikes, transform them into touring rigs, and hit the road.
From Choshuenco we had spotted two trails, one going straight south and one skirting the lake on the south side and then turning south towards Lago Ranco. We found out that the first option involved bushwhacking up a steep hill. Similarly, the second trail had not been used in possibly some years and was therefore overgrown. At least it was more or less flat, so we went to the trailhead to see for ourselves. Indeed, it seemed like you would need a machete to get anywhere. Plus there were apparently some river crossings with questionable bridges.
We decided that, instead of doing a big detour to get south on busy dirt roads, we would ride into Argentina for a few days. Many people had been telling us how amazing the 7 lagos route was, time to see for ourselves.
So the six of us headed to Puerto Fuy. At 7am, all tickets for the day had sold out. Apparently people started queueing around 5am. The summer is busy, and demand can’t be met. They told us to just go to the next ferry and see whether they could squeeze us on – luckily they could.
A busy dirt road brought us to San Martin de los Andes. We were looking forward to pavement, as dirt roads had recently become dirt showers for us. One of the downsides of traveling in a big group is that everything takes a bit longer. So what we thought to be a quick stop in town turned into five hours. The many upsides of group traveling are the amount of fun you can have though. We set ourselves a couple of challenges to make the ride more enjoyable (e.g. trying to convince strangers that there’s a condor, trying to get invited for a sip of mate…) and took a fun photo at each lake taken by strangers (one guy took a video instead of a photo).
We had a few slow days to Villa la Angostura and then parted ways again as Dan and I needed to get things charging and have a hospital visit as his tummy had been acting up. We had a great time cycling with other people. Now we’re back on our own feet, looking at the next hike a bikes to take us south. Tbc!
Choshuenco: supermarket, unlikely to get WiFi to work, no atm
Neltume: supermarket, didn’t encounter WiFi, no atm
Puerto Fuy: no atm, we didn’t really suss anything else out
Ferry Puerto Fuy to Pirihueico: 900pp, 4000 per bike (cash!). Apparently you have to queue early (5-6am) to be first in line when reception opens at 7am. Tickets can only be bought on the day for one of the ferries that day (3-4 ferries per day). People buy tickets in bulk we were told. Even though tickets were apparently sold out on our day we managed to get on board. The ride takes about an hour.
Pirihueico: not much there as far as we could tell. 11k to the border Paso Hua-Hum (the Chilean side has WiFi). A bit further on you enter a national park. We didn’t have to pay an fees at any of the parks along the route.
San Martin de los Andes: grido helado!!! (18pesos instead of the northern price 14pesos for two scoops), bike shops, supermarket, banks etc
Camping on the lagunas route:
At the park entrance by Lago Nonthue after the Argentinian border, ask for free camping. They’ll give you the directions: take the dirt road just before the park entrance, 3k down the road by a river are various spots. A bit busy and noisy, we found a quiet spot nearby right by the lake.
6k outside of San Martin a dirt road on the right side. Small sign that says camping in 100m. Go down to a little stream. Camp is on the right side. Toilets, no other facilities (neither electricity), but only 25 pesos pp. Another 5k further and you might be able to find free camp spots.
Just after Lago Falkner at Lago Villarino, you’ll see many people campjng. You can search for a quiet camspot anywhere along the dirt trail.
Villa la Angostura: if you look hard you can find free camping. We forked out for camping in town, apparently the cheapest in the centre, to charge things. 140pp, 30 on top if you want with electricity, and there may be a per tent price (40?) too which fortunately we didn’t get charged though. (For a wee comparison, we paid 50 for the two of us per night in Malargue, with similar facilities).
And here a little video of Tam’s challenge (interpretive dances) – enjoy!