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A beautiful time to enjoy northern Patagonia

This is a great time of year to visit Northern Patagonia. Valleys are blanketed with Lupines, waterfalls are full, and the sun shines bright and warm. Go north from Coyhaique on the Carretera Austral and within minutes you are into the Rio Simpson valley, a deep gorge where waterfalls cascade and streams carve their way through the mountains and forests. Here you will find many safe places to stop and enjoy. Then the road takes a sharp right and you are travelling beside the Rio Manuales in its wide flower filled valley. Lupines, lupines everywhere, pink, yellow and purple flowers cover the valley floors all the way to the mountain sides where water falls in a scene reminiscent of Fantasia.

For an hour or so you will travel through a Kalaiederscope of color until you spot a mountain peak that will have you thinking you’re at the begining of a Paramount Pictures presentation. At the bottom you’ll find a national reserve and a picturesque lake where you can have a picnic and enjoy the mountain as it rises above the waters.
Continue on and you’re in Queulat National Park, and bouncing about on a bumpy road up and over mountains through a dense rain forest that reaches all the way to your vehicle windows in a giants garden of spiny Nalca plants with their gigantic leaves. Waterfalls, rivers and streams come from everywhere and then as you crest a mountain pass you will be faced by Colgante Hanging Glacier, which sits even higher than where you are, dazzling white and looking very cold indeed. A little further and you will see a trail that will lead you on a two-hour forest hike to a place where you can view the glacier in its full spleandor.
Continue on through the park and you drop down to the Puyuhuapi Fjord where you find hot springs, for the rich and famous on the other side of the fjord, along with a very sophisticated spa hotel and various pools, bubbling and not. Just a bit further down the road that hugs the fjord is a much less pricey hot spa, where for around 10,000 pesos you can bathe beside the fjord in lovely surroundings and enjoy a meal or a drink in the lounge. A few kilometers further and you’re in Puyuhuapi Village

dining on fresh fish and seafood and perhaps checking into a hostel or cabin with a view of the very lovely fjord.
Then it’s north and onto La Junta, traveling again through Parque Queulat and its rainforests beside Lago Risapatron, a deep narrow lake, and then along the Risapatron river through the ranchlands that have made La Junta famous throughout Patagonia.
La Junta, what better place can there be to experience the life of the Patagonian Cowboy? You’ll see them ride into town, hitch up outside the local store or herd their cows along the street. Time it right and there will be a rodeo or fiesta.
This is where my wife Konomi and I live. And all this beauty near Christmas time reminds me that life can be like a double edged sword. This is the time of year when our neighbors’ lambs dissapear, soon to be found in Quinchos everywhere, roasting on a spit rather than going, “Bah bah” on the otherside of our fence. When you’re living in the city, you don’t think of these things, but when you’ve watched them grow from little lambs, it’s a different story. However this year, we are actually saving one. Next week we take delivery of a live sheep which we will use to mow our lawn. Life in Patagonia.
by: Paul Coleman Patagonia in the spring, Photo: Paul Coleman

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