We recommend a horseback tour to the Azul River gorge, one of the most fascinating sceneries close to El Bolsón.
The Autumn sun shines over the valley at El Bolsón and a prefect choice to spend the entire day in the Patagonian Andean forest and the mountains is riding up to the place known as Cajón del Azul.
After joining a group of Spanish tourists at Grado 42’s office, we went out on a van heading for the spot called Mallín Ahogado (Drowned Marhsland), which lies about 15 kilometers from the center of town.
We stopped at Callejón Warton, where Warton Farm is located. We were welcomed by Camilo, our guide, who was expecting us standing next to the horses, which were ready to start the ride.
Once on our zainos, we began to move along the path that gets deep into the Río Azul - Lago Escondido natural reserve. This protected area with thick forests of cypresses and coihues is crossed by mountain creeks and dwelled by diverse bird species. There lies Cajón del Azul, our destination.
Once on our zainos
The landscape was amazing
The wooden footbridge
The murmur of the river
Retrace our steps
At a Quiet Pace
The heat was becoming noticeable and, due to the scarce rain, we moved the dust on the trail. We followed the course of the Azul River most of the time. It would appear in the openings of the forest and it would hide whenever we entered the green tree galleries.
Shortly afterwards, we waded the river. In spite of being referred to as the Azul River (meaning “Blue River” in Spanish), its crystal-clear waters feature an emerald green shade through which its rocky bed may be seen. Dozens of trout were swimming around other nooks of the river -where it reaches 5 meters of depth- in search for food.
We continued our way through the forest. At 700 meters of height, tall coihuescover the mountain slopes. The path became wider and, though it crossed a private property, it could be used freely as it is ruled by a right of way. It was a sign that the refuge was near. We came across some local dwellers who live in the farms located to both sides of the Azul and also across hikers who were eager to reach the primitive campsite called “La Playita” (The Little Beach). We also got to that place. We unsaddled and made ourselves comfortable to enjoy a picnic.
The paths chase the waters, which at times run 30 meters below, and then reach the wooden footbridge. Standing on it causes a feeling of vertigo. On the other side, the trail leads to another refuge, located 600 m.a.s.l. and known as the Cajón shelter. Every summer for over 27 years, don Atilio Csik has welcomed visitors there and shared his stories with them.
After a while, we went back to look for the horses in order to retrace our steps. Camilo was right: it was totally worth following the murmur of the river.
Karina Jozami Karina Jozami
See more points of interest in El Bolsón