Hidden in a thick Patagonian forest, the Ñivinco Cascade offers its best sounds in a nook where silence rules
The Ñivinco Falls are usually left out of the traditional tours. Hidden among the authentically Patagonian trees, it invites us on a hiking tour that will be fruitful when we come close to the water course and see it appear immense, almost histrionic before our eyes.
We drove away from Villa Traful along Provincial Route 65 towards the 7-Lake Road. We went along a very beautiful circuit bordered by ancient trees. We observed the action of nature which, in the winter, makes the most fragile branches fall down with the help of the wind and the snow. As we made contact with National Route 234, we turned right towards the City of San Martín de los Andes. After approximately 30 kilometers, we saw a detour to the left with no sign post. According to the information we had been given, that was the detour leading to the waterfalls.
Zigzagging in the Green
We drove along about 700 meters until we found an indicator of the Nahuel Huapi National Park that invited us to park our vehicle. Adventure began.
Carrying a small backpack, we resolved to wade the first creek that appeared before us. It was narrow and its waters were very cold, but it represented no high difficulty, even though it may be a little more plentiful in the meltdown season. As we left the water, another signpost showed us the way. A small woodland of shrubby vegetation gave way to a ñire and caña colihue forest around us. The old man’s beard hangs here and there giving evidence of the high degree of oxygenation of the site. Only our murmur and our steps on the trail could be heard. The rest was all silence.
Countless falls spread around the steep rocks
It is sheltered within a forest
An ample colorful rocky beach
A secret patagónico
Enjoy the moment
Each vegetable species features its own characteristics: the ñire, its leaves with curly borders; the chinchin, its intense glow; the cañas colihue seem to be disarranged. Once in a while, some numbered yellow mark confirms that we are on the correct path. The park ranger had placed some logs in the shape of steps in the uneven path. We began to hear the waterfalls. At first, timidly and then more sonorously. We were getting closer.
We held our breath when we finally spotted the creek on the right. We covered the remaining stretch along a very narrow trail which had been opened up with a machete. Over our heads, a green roof of ñires. The noise of the water became more intense. We were about to get to our destination after forty minutes of hiking at a quiet pace.
We exchanged some words with a group of travelers who were on their way back from the falls and they told us how to get to the vantage point. As we got there, we were welcomed by a beach featuring rocks of various colors. In front, the largest arm of the creek lets a water curtain of strong sound fall down over a big slope. To the left, an impressive sight: several falls produced by an abrupt slope that ends in the shape of a zigzagging staircase lets the water slide softly, almost with a murmur.
And Why Not…?
The two arms of the creek pour their waters into a central pool, not so deep, that invited some children that were camping around the area to freshen up in its waters. Several children were plunging into the pool from a rock. They dared one another to start a swimming race. They screamed with happiness and ran out of the water back to the rocks in order to dive again from all the corners in the waterfall. A sunbeam would crown the scene.
We beheld that show for a couple of minutes before continuing our hiking tour along the border of the waterfall up to the vantage point. Each step lets hikers cross the creek from one side to the other quite easily on plain rocks free of moss. Up there, in a small pool, a couple of torrent ducks, a local endangered species, enjoyed the scenery. At the end of the tour, we stayed there for a while watching this cascade we had found by word of mouth.
We returned following the same trail we had used to reach this place. We did not forget to taste those violet fruit given by the michai. According to tradition, they will make us go back some day.
Mónica Pons Eduardo Epifanio
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