Rally of the Incas 2016
November 13 - December 9, 2016
NOVEMBER 18, 2016
Esquel to Bariloche
A Head of Steam
After yesterday's epic drive, today was scheduled to be a shorter day to better allow us to appreciate the stunning scenery which got better with every passing kilometre.
Shadowing and running parallel with the famous Ruta 40 for most of the day the Rally set a course to the north and basked under a blue sky along roads lined with purple foxgloves and a vivid yellow broom. To say that the scene was picture perfect would not do it justice.
From the minute we left the hotel car park, our windscreens filled with the jagged and snow topped Andean peaks of the Parc Nacional los Alerces, a full 2,630 square kilometres of mountains lakes and rivers along the border with Chile complete with forests comprising alerce, larch, pine and birch. A rugged gravel piste twisted and turned on the balcony above the Lago Futalaufquen and the Lago Verde with some crews reporting that they were racing alongside the Patagonian mara - a monogamous herbivore of the hare family.
As well as enjoying the beautiful landscapes though, there was some 'real rallying’ to be done and soon enough we arrived at the first regularity named "Butch Cassidy" in honour of the (in)famous American bank robber who according to legend fled to Argentina in 1908.
This 32 km section was nothing short of breathtaking, but when the crews arrived in El Maiten for the lunch time control they were in for another treat. Our visit had been timed to coincide with the National Steam Locomotive Fair and, as the crews tucked into generous plates of meat, spiced empanadas and a little salad on the side, Ed Howle - a lifelong steam train enthusiast and a noted air cooled VW driver - took charge of matters on the footplate. Down on the platform meanwhile the hundreds of steam train enthusiasts and rally fans who’d gathered mingled with the crews and swapped their stories of old machinery.
There was one more regularity after lunch and a circuit test to negotiate before the crews were free to take up their two nights of residence at the fantastic Llao Llao hotel in Bariloche on the Lago Moreno and Nahuel Huapi.
Tomorrow is a rest day, but there’s so much to do and see here that taking it easy might not be possible.