404 – Argentina’s Route 40: From the Steppes to the Lakes
Argentines maintain that Patagonia begins at the Río Colorado in the Province of Neuquen. Traveling south, we cross that river on Ruta 40—Route Forty—in a volcanic landscape amidst a vast desert, the majestic peaks of the Andes always present on our right. Within the slopes of the Andes are myriad lakes and towns constructed by European immigrants—and expatriates, but never far from the arid, windswept steppes of Patagonia. More secluded are the Mapuches—Indians who resisted the European onslaught and today struggle to retain their culture. In Patagonia, all roads lead to San Carlos Bariloche, the crown jewel of Ruta 40, a Swiss-type resort on the shores of the great Lake Nahuel-Huapi. On a sailboat we travel westward, passing from desert scrub on the shoreline to the lush rainforests and snows of the Andes.