In those huge pieces of land there are only a few villages which are populated by just a few families. All the merits of civilization can be found in petrol stations. Every petrol station is like an oasis in their own right. They have wi-fi, some basic food, hot shower, coffee, toilet, water, and hot water for mate and most of the time a couple of rooms for rent as well. Also without an exception all the personnel were extremely helpful when asked for a safe place to put our tent. Camping is one of the main modes of travel and lodging in Argentina. Many people have their tents with them while travelling long distances and use it extensively. Almost all petrol stations have a patch of grass or a dedicated place to put tents as well. And since there is always security in the petrol stations, those places are quite secure. It was three nights in three different petrol stations before we found a ride that would take us to Monte León.
Parque Nacional Monte León is some kilometers after the town of Comandante Luis Piedra Buena. We arrived there with a truck, carrying a prefabricated house. Unfortunately the house was not furnished so we were next to the driver. It was just before dark and there was a little bit of rain and after quite a long time with unsuccessful hitchhiking attempts, we were delighted to reach there in a relatively reasonable time of the day.
Park registration entrance
But like in most cases our optimistic smiles were wiped off soon. First, we are told, we made a good choice of the entrance to the park, because that was the spot where we needed to register to enter the park from the main entrance which is 15 kilometers away. Since we were definitely not able to walk 15 kilometers with bags at that time, we asked if it was possible to camp somewhere closer. The response was negative and they were extremely strict about this. They also informed us that it would be in vain to go to the entrance anyway because the park was closed due to the rain. The roads were not stable and our car would probably get stuck in mud somewhere and they were not willing to help if that happens. We counter informed them that we didn’t have a vehicle and were on foot, and their responses were only sad smiles. We asked about our options about the night with the coming dark and the rain that started, but they were not very helpful and mostly rude. I have to admit that this was one of the lowest points of our travel, but then again it had only been two weeks that we had started. So we had only one option which was going back to the town and search for a place to stay. And the only transport option being our thumbs. Luckily after a few cars a Volkswagen hippinetta stopped who turned out to be a French couple who were looking for the entrance to the park. We transferred them the information involving the park’s inabilities at that time and were looking for a place in town and luckily, while they were passing from here before, they spotted a camping area there which they took us to. The camping area was on island on the river and quite welcoming. There were a number of birds and picturesque river views on the paths around the island.
The next morning the rain was over but due to the mud we gathered the park would still be closed so we enjoyed the island for some time lost the hope for the national park and left there for Rio Gallegos. The lesson I learned here was that the reason me not seeing as much as I wanted had nothing to do with Mariana, but mostly with luck.
I also wanted to reestablish the fact that I really hate cold immensely. At the time I was thinking that luck was what I was mad at but later on, it was clear to me that the real culprit was the cold. Also if I am going to come to this part of the world ever again, I will definitely hire a van like the couple did.
A swan on the river just not to feel completely empty inside