Sarmiento Petrified forest and Los Antiguos - big trip - diary - argentina - february 2003

Petrified logs...

...look just like logs

Plant life

Saturday 22 - Sunday 23 February

Sarmiento is a small town with the usual campsite and some useful trees to park behind to shelter from the incessent wind. In the town is the army base of the first soldiers to land on the Falklands. They have a museum but we didn't bother to go. Almost every town has a Las Malvinas monument to a seeming obsessive level and all argentinian maps say that the islands belong to them. Oh well, we've only been shouted at a couple of times in the street (in BsAs) and the vast majority of people are super-sociable and welcoming.

Hollow log

Moonscape with scattered logs

Half logs

Early doors we set off to the Petrified forest 30kms south. Initially we were a bit surprised as the rocky desert landscape more closely resembled the moon than a forest, and the trees were all fallen down and didn't seemed scared at all, even when we came quite close and shouted at them. Later we discovered the logs were carried here by rivers 65 million years ago, which explains how there could be trees in the desert. The whole area is covered by slivers of 'wood' chips and the logs themselves look like intricately carved stonework, all set off by a magnificent mountainous backdrop. T decided to help himself to a few examples of the pieces scattered about, not worrying about stealing irreplaceable national artefacts. Fortunately the ranger didn't fancy doing a sock search so T got to keep his souvenirs.

Gravel roads all day long

Oil well head

Typical Patagonian scenery

Armadillo, hard on top...

...but his soft underbelly soon exposed!

Lake Buenos Aires and the Andes

Leaving the forest and continuing on gravel roads we drove 300kms to Los Antiguos. Theres not much traffic and we saw lots of wildlife including ostriches, guanacos, hares, a fox, lots of birds and a couple of armadillos, one of which T managed to capture to get a photo of its belly.

We arrived at the small town of Perito Moreno on Saturday afternoon. As is usual in Argentina, everything is shut from the afternoon right through until Monday. People on the streets were very friendly but it was to Los Antiguos where we were heading. This place at least had a restaurant open and a campsite near the big lake of Buenos Aires with the Andes as a backdrop.

Steep hill signs with a sense of humour

Horses near Perito Moreno Nat. Park

S bends

After the usual late start we continued on route 40, gravel as usual, stopping for something to eat at Bajo Caracoles which is on the map but is only a hotel/restaurant and some abandoned houses. The weather was warm and sunny and as the day wore on the light was fantastic, as we arrived at the Perito Moreno national park the sun was just starting to go behind the Andes.

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