Tours and Activities:
Valle Hermoso, The Mecca of Adventure SportsSantiago Gaudio
We left San Rafael, and traveled 200 kilometers across the long Valley of Las Leñas along National Routes 144 and 40 and Provincial Route 222. We found a depression between two mountain ranges. This place is known as Valle Hermoso (Beatiful Valley).
Though it is not too far away from the ski resort, the very winding road is made of rubble and there are several meltdown creeks to wade. In order to avoid any problems, it is advisable to do this journey early in the morning, as the sun heat melts the snow and increases their volume during the day, thus making it difficult for vehicles to cross, especially the low ones or those which do not have 4WD.
A curious fact about this road is that it was used by one of the columns of General San Martín’s Liberating Army during their crossing to neighboring Chile.
After touring around the mountain range through Portezuelo Ancho, we got to the place known as Mirador del Valle (Viewpoint onto the Valley). To our feet, a crag emerged from the ground and like a sentry watched over the two ponds sheltered by Valle Hermoso.
The track coiled down to the first pond, where a rest area leased by Las Leñas resort awaited us to provide the only services in the valley.
An amazing scene but without any shady spot. Due to the height, no tree or bush species grows here. This made the heat quite intense and a key factor during our stay. Therefore, it is important to wear a good hat and sun screen.
At the first pond, sheltered from the wind by one of the hillsides, there are no waves. Thus, boats, canoes and windsurf boards may be rented there to enjoy the water.
Those who wish to make the most of this place and stay longer than one day have the chance to camp in a meadow with padded grass that invites to venture into the night. If they are lucky and the sky is clear, they will catch a glimpse of the constellations, one of the highest pleasures in the valley. Lying on the pond shore, we were patient enough to spot shooting stars and satellites illuminated by the sun beams and traveling at unbelievable speed across the sky.
There are plenty of possibilities. The soil is appropriate to practice mountain biking, hiking, climbing and horseback riding. Tours on horseback may be hired there. Expert locals offer their horses and guide visitors around the most unusual nooks on rides that may take from one afternoon to several days.
For those of us who enjoy walking, there is a natural hot spring with ferrous minerals that come from an arid crack. After a long hiking tour crossing the Tordillo River with its cold waters up to the waist, we reached the reddish warm hot springs. A pool featuring a two-meter diameter acts as a natural Jacuzzi amidst the steppe. Once inside the hot spring waters, it is convenient to bathe gradually and not for too long, as we are likely to relax too much and feel our blood pressure decreases.
On the other hand, it is important to consider that we are supposed to walk all the way back to the pond. That is to say that we had to keep enough energy for our return.
Another shorter hiking tour suitable for the entire family is a visit to Laguna Larga, whose name in Spanish stands for its long shape. Bird watching is a simple activity that may be completed through a photographic safari.
The most curious will find some Tehuelche patterns carved in the rocks very close to the pond. According to the local guide, these petroglyphs are the representation of the access paths to various sites, as if this was the reference point for the several circuits of the ancient dwellers of these lands.
Valle Hermoso has a great deal of adventure travel alternatives. A wide array of attractions invites visitors to discover and be protagonists of this hidden nook.