The recent history of these isolated confines of southern Argentina may be read very close to the shore of this district featuring beautiful beaches and warm waters.
Some tours in the area may be enjoyed in a more dynamic way when we leave them in the hands of specialized guides, their appropriate vehicles and their knowledge of local history and legends that contribute to the outing. We went on two excursions deep into a singular geography and amusing nooks.
Salinas del Gualicho
We left the beach in order to travel 60 kilometers on a comfortable air-conditioned bus. According to our guide, we would visit one of the largest salt deserts in South America, and we would enjoy sunset and the early hours of the night at our destination.
Upon our arrival, we were first surprised by the depression in which the salt deposits are located, about 72 meters below sea level. They occupy an area of 430 square kilometers and are the largest in Argentina and the second largest in South America, after the Uyuni Salt Deposit in Bolivia, as far as industrial exploitation is concerned. Yet another surprise was to learn that the great amount of fossil remains resting on the saline bed originated in the sea.
The guides told us that legends were passed on by the Tehuelches
and the Mapuches
, first dwellers of the region, which assert that this place is cursed.
As these salt mines are exploited for commercial purposes, we spotted huge piles of this material awaiting the trucks that would transport it. We moved on towards the center of the salt lake amidst a strangely beautiful atmosphere. Right there, the organizers entertained us with a picada
while we waited for the chicken that was being cooked on the plough wheel to be ready. All this was happening under an imposing starry sky. Fuerte Argentino
This time, we left Las Grutas
very early in the morning on board all-terrain trucks to go on an adventure excursion. We moved southwards along the gravel road known as Camino de los pulperos
. Our bodies could perceive every time the vehicle became inclined. We visited the village called Villa de los Pulperos
and the beach named Playa Colorada
, where some young people were practicing sandboarding on the sand hills. We heard that bird watching is also enjoyed at this location.
Our next stops were El Sótano
(The Basement) and Cañadón de las Ostras
(Oysters Ravine), where we took hiking tours to identify the features of these places.
We continued southwards up to the stunning geographic formation known as Fuerte Argentino. This is a 192-meter-high plateau. We were intrigued when the organizers told us the story of a treasure hidden in these rock formations and the insistent searches carried out to find it.
We got off the trucks to go around the place while the coordinators prepared a hearty asado. We enjoyed a pleasant and relaxed conversation after lunch. Then some members of the group went to practice snorkeling at one lake and others practiced their aiming skills with the crossbow.
Afterwards, the explanation for the mystery arrived. According to research done by specialists, vestiges of the Knight Templars’ Order would have been found in this area, indicating that these characters landed here before Columbus set foot in America. This theory is quite controversial within religious, scientific and social environments and today it is part of the legends of Fuerte Argentino.
Sunset on the beach found us thinking about everything we had heard and at the same time, we felt admiration for the twilight and the wonderful day we had enjoyed.
The knowledge of the guides, their amusing outings and the sites accessed gave us a memorable experience that would remain with us forever.