After a couple days in Bariloche, we hit the road towards San Martin de los Andes, along The Route of the Seven Lakes. This is a famous scenic drive past snow covered mountains and deep blue lakes that technically only takes about three hours one way. Most people turn it into a several day trip, staying overnight along the way, something we opted to do on the drive back down. The weather remained cloudy but it was still a beautiful drive.
!(https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/hot-sauce-and-coffee/media/Along la ruta.jpg)
!(https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/hot-sauce-and-coffee/media/Along la ruta 2.jpg)
!(https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/hot-sauce-and-coffee/media/Along la ruta 3.jpg)It took us about four hours to drive to the end point of the city of San Martin de los Andes, where we had reservations to stay for three nights. We really, really enjoyed our stay here. It's a small lake town nestled between mountains that was very easy to navigate on foot. There still was some autumn colors on the trees, which the New Englander in Mollie really enjoyed 😊.
!(https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/hot-sauce-and-coffee/media/San Martin .jpg)
!(https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/hot-sauce-and-coffee/media/San Martin 2.jpg)
One of our days here we decided to drive north west, to a volcano that borders Chile. Unfortunately it was very cloudy and the park ranger recommended against climbing uphill to the mirador (lookout). Instead he pointed us in the direction of a hiking trail to a lake. With clouds that looked on the verge of downpour, we unwisely started the 6km hike. We proceeded to get soaked through, both from the steady rain falling and then from the high grasses that formed the trail.
!(https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/hot-sauce-and-coffee/media/Hike near Volcano Lanin.jpg)
!(https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/hot-sauce-and-coffee/media/Hike near Volcano Lanin 2.jpg)!(https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/hot-sauce-and-coffee/media/Lago Tromen.jpg)
The views were definitely underwhelming, but it was an interesting hike all the same. There were funny looking trees called Monkey Puzzle which left us entertained.
!(https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/hot-sauce-and-coffee/media/Monkey Puzzle detail.jpg)
Luckily the Airbnb we rented in San Martin came with heated floors so that our wet clothes and shoes dried over night. It was definitely necessary.
On the drive back to Bariloche, we spent one night in Villa La Angostura, a small town about midway through La Ruta. Sadly, it was raining for our entire stay here so we couldn't enjoy the scenery at all. We kept warm and dry in the HUGE cabin vacation rental watching Lord of the Rings extended edition, only venturing out for crepes and ice cream.
!(https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/hot-sauce-and-coffee/media/Villa la Angostura House.jpg)
We did venture to the lake right at sunset, as the rain was clearing, but without much luck on any view. You'll have to use your imagination on this one.
!(https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/hot-sauce-and-coffee/media/Villa la Angostura Dock.jpg)
I think it definitely would be nice to come back and do the drive again, but next time earlier in the season.
DWNTGB (Do We Need To Go Back) Rating
#### Ryan -
San Martin de Los Andes and Villa La Angostura were fantastic. They both had the character of nicely appointed, small towns in the mountains. We didn't get as much time in Villa La Angostura as I would have liked, and there was plenty more to explore in and nearby both towns. I'd love to go back in springtime and hike up volcanoes and along lakesides.
Truly La Ruta is beautiful. It would have been nice to see it in sunshine and/or autumn colors. But for me the scenery wasn't anything to specifically come back for.