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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

VOLCANS, TERMAS (HOT SPRINGS) & GEYSERS

We are getting a bit bored with mountains & lakes. It is definitely time for a change of scenery, so we are off to explore volcanos & geysers, and hopefully soak in some hot pools. We leave the main road at Chos Malai and head north to Varvarco passing huge areas of volcanic activity. Many of the little towns we pass have helpful iourist info offices that give us local maps with things to see and do. The highlights are some amazing rock formations at Las Bolillios, a thermal waterfall at Villa Agua Callienties and a drive right up to some little geysers. We wild camp at our very own hot pool (not a waterfall, but it does have hot running water) with a sheltered rock BBQ area with rock seats for 2. What more could we ask for. Priceless!!!
The next day we find some magic geysers. John nearly falls into one trying to put rocks in the change the flow! Typical!!
We return to route 40 via a back road. The plus being there are no roadworks on this one, and all the traffic is on the other road. It is a public holiday and the locals are coming, no doubt to sit in our hot pool.
Our next detour is into Resevera Profincial El Payen home to over 800 volcanos. Our map shows no roads, but we know tourists can go with 4x4 tour operators. So we decide if they can go, so can we! We get directions from a local and head off. It is a huge drive on a goat/rock track with no signs after passing the mining area (interestingly mines & Nat Paks combined!). The volvanic scenery is magic. We decide to get a few photos of GR2 climbing a volcano, when we see some tour vehicles approaching (the only 2 vehicles all day) WOOPS! We are sprung and politely asked to keep on the tracks. To top it off our diesel is getting low and we haven't a clue how far out of here. We wouldn't recommend the drive to anyone. It was very scenic, but John didn't see too much of it.
Following route 40 we are finally out of the mountains and into flat fertile countryside with lots of irrigation, so lots of crops and vineyards. Before we reach Mendoza we detour via Canyon Del Atuel. It is late as we arrive, so it is a magic drive with lots of glowing colours. We camp in the canyon, which is a bit chilly, and then head out to San Rafael. A pretty town with streets full of flowing trees and a lovely town square. Rather like a small Mendoza.
At Mendoza we decide to use a camping ground. The first we find is a bit far out of town, the second has closed for the season and the third closes the next day. Oh well! We want to find a mechanical workshop while we are here to get the brakes adjusted, so in the process of hunting we manage to drive through lots of town. There are lots of overhanging trees and busy town squares. Oh and we get the brakes fixed.

Salutes, until next time....

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