The sun finally made an appearance on day four of the Gaucho Trail, as we traversed the length of Vidal Gormaz.


Argentina & Chile,

7th March - 28th March 2010

[13 - Lago Vidal Gormaz to Soto's farm]

  Soto and Amelia's farm at the lower end of Lago Vidal Gormaz.

Leaving Tito Bahamonde's on day four of the Gaucho Trek.


Wednesday 24th March

There was no rain to speak of overnight, though the sky was still overcast and our flysheets were covered in dew. Snowcapped peaks lay to the west, the direction we had come from. Retrieving our gear from the barn, which had scarcely been able to dry overnight, we set off around 10h30, skirting the edge of Vidal Gormaz, sometimes down to its shoreline, at other times ascending up into the forest, its continuity broken only by the occasional farm. It turned into a gloriously warm day and the bright sunlight reflected off the surface of the lake. We managed to spot some birdlife, notably kestrels and woodpeckers, which we had strangely been unable to do in the dense confines of the rain forest. A farm came into view on the opposite bank of the lake and almost as slowly slipped out of view to our left. We reached the southern end of the lake, after having covered a distance of just over 10 km, in only four hours. Tito had been true to his word after all and we had done it in good time.

Elena chatting to Tito Bahamonde, the man who doesn't fancy Gringos; Duck-pond reflections.



Packing up and leaving Tito Bahamonde's.



En route between the respective farms of Tito and Soto.



One final glance back at Tito Bahamonde's farm!


Additional photos courtesy Ralph Pina, Harald Weber & Andre Greyling.

The resemblance is there - one of Tito Bahamonde's son's perhaps?




A kestrel in the trees on the shores of LAgo Vidal Gormaz.

We reached the farm of Soto and Amelia. On the descent, we found the grass beneath our feet damp and waterlogged. Clare had unpacked her tent before Elena had gone over to meet the wife, who appeared at the farm gates. She was a sweet old lady and more than happy to see us, suggesting that we camp just below their farmhouse instead, where a line of trees ran along a ridge just above the edge of the lake. The view that greeted us as we gazed north was just out of this world! With the sun out, we washed our clothes and swam in the waters of Vidal Gomaz. Amelia had offered to cook dinner for us that evening (for a small fee) and proceeded to bring some bread and a cake she had baked down to the table at the bottom of the garden. Attired as best we could, we wandered up to the homestead and entered a darkened room with wooden walls, barely able to reflect any light from the small windows. An assortment of photographs and plaques adorned the walls and in amongst them we found a photo of Tito with Augusto Pinochet, former dictator of Chile, giving rise to all sorts of speculative comment, probably without foundation. We met Soto, who had been working a chainsaw some distance away all afternoon and understood him to be in his nineties, his wife much younger. Both were short in stature. A string of ten children or more bar one had all left the farm for the towns and cities. Tito was in his eighties.


At times the route along Lago Vidal Gormaz took us down to its very shoreline.




Reaching the farm of Soto and Amelia.

It was difficult for us to come to terms with the fact that these farmers had lived here all their lives, some of whom had never been to the cities or owned or driven cars in their lifetime. They had become accustomed to a lifestyle without electricity, their only mode of transport being the horse. Theirs was a hard life yet there was no doubt in our minds that a lifestyle detached from the demands and pressures of modern society contributed to their longevity and seeming immortality. Amelia brought us the mutton knuckle, potato and salad she had prepared; we ate and applauded, a South American custom we had learnt from Elena in the course of our travels, from the moment we enjoyed Asado on the group's first evening in BsAs.


Basking in the sunshine on the southern end of Lago Vidal Gormaz, an idyllic setting indeed.


Patagonia, Argentina & Chile

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