Los Alerces National Park

Posted: March 22, 2013 in Argentina, South America

After a couple of glorious nights in a three star hotel in Esquel, a small town in the Lakes District of Argentina, we headed off in to Los Alerces National Park.  It is a small park in northern Patagonia, not heavily visited as Bariloche and Nahuel Huapi NP is up the road a couple of hundred kilometres away.  The reason for our visit was to see the Lahuan or Abuelo tree, one of the oldest in the world after the Bristlecone Pine and the Giant Sequoia’s.  The oldest tree in the park is 2600 years old!  Trying to imagine the fact that this tree has been around since Roman times is staggering.

There were a few challenges to us seeing this particular tree.  The first was that we arrived in Esquel on the weekend, and nothing was open, so we were armed with little information (apart from what the Internet could tell us).  We knew there was a boat trip needed to get to the ancient tree, and that it ran on a Wednesday, and we also knew there was no bus to where the boat left from.  Other than that it was hop on the bus and see what happens!

Upon arrival at the park, the ranger at the information desk confirmed that we had hit a significant snag in our quest to see the old tree.  It was 36km up the road through the park to get to the beginning of a 4km walk to the jetty to take the 22km boat ride to the 650m walk to see the 2600 year old tree.

The issue was there was no bus to take us the 36km up the road, the rest was easy.

Mirella took the news well that she would be hitchhiking for the first time in her life in the middle of nowhere in Argentina, despite being taught at a young age (as most of us have been) to never, ever hitchhike as you could be killed and dismembered by a crazy person.

We spent the first day in the park doing some simple walks, the scenery speaks for itself.

Alerce National Park

Alerce National Park

So, up bright and early on day two, and out to the main road to hitchhike.  After 30 minutes or so, a man was kind enough to stop, a local kayak guide, who was going 33km up the road to work.  Fantastic!  We spent the next hour chatting away in broken English and Spanish, and things were looking great, the tree would be ours!

We spent the rest of the day hiking around a new section of the park, including a gut busting climb to this viewpoint.

Alerce National Park

Alerce National Park

Collapsing in to the tent that night, all seemed well for the next day and a boat ride to the ancient tree….

The last day in the park started well, up in the rain, packed up soaking wet tent (it weighs a lot more when soaked in water!), and a quick 4km walk to the boat launch.  We began to get nervous over the last 500m as we started passing hordes of Argentinians who appeared to be heading to the same place.  Upon arrival at the jetty our fears were confirmed, the boat was sold out!  The ticket collector said grab a seat, you never know your luck, 2 people may no-show.

So we sat for an hour waiting and hoping, and sure enough two people did not arrive!  On we went on the hour cruise, and finally we saw the ancient tree!

Tree hugger

Tree hugger

Although not officially allowed to be hugged, we figured if it can last 2600 years of human interaction, surely a hug from Mirella can only make it happier?

The rain poured down again at the end of the day, and a final soaking whilst waiting for 15 minutes for the bus back to Esquel could not wipe the smiles off our faces, we had an amazing time in Los Alerces National park!

The gallery below is a smattering of shots in the park, enjoy.

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