Walking the Rio Azul

Fresh from the challenges of hiking in the Bariloche area, it was time to conquer (go for a walk in) the El Bolsón area. Our first trip out was to walk the River Azul – a walk that starts from Wharton (around 12km from El Bolsón), and follows the River Azul passing a few Refugios along the way. You can continue along the river quite a long way by staying in the Refugios, but in our case, the goal was El Cajón del río Azul, a canyon around 12km along the river. So we were ready for another 24km walk, but this one would be a bit flatter than the Refugio Frey walk.

The first part of the walk was described as ‘a bit boring’ by CC. ‘I like the high mountain walks’ said CC. Yes, no pleasing some people… But it soon got better as we left the gravel road and started following the course of the river.

It criss-crossed the river quite a few times, but unlike on the walk to Refugio Frey, this river was complete with bridges. In fact it had more bridges than were needed, as the old ones had been replaced by new ones, and the old ones were still there. Looking at the old ones, we were kind of glad that they had been replaced…..

Thankfully, this bridge was no longer in use – CC had used up all her river crossing bravery in Bariloche.

There was some brief excitement on the way when a Llama suddenly appeared. CC rushed towards the Llama to make friends, but it made a very horrible face at her, started hissing, and took a step forward. CC decided that the Llama hated her and was dangerous – and so put me in charge of going closer to get a picture. The llama didn’t seem to like me either 🙁 [Note about llamas: they are domesticated, not wild animals]

The llama suddenly appeared and looked at us suspiciously…
This is the face of a HOSTILE llama.

The walk was a fairly gradual incline and through forested areas – and so we were very excited to suddenly hear a ‘TAP, TAP, TAP’ noise. WOODY! Yes, we were near a Magellanic Woodpecker at last. We stalked the forest area looking for the woodpecker, and YES – SUCESS AT LAST! After 2 weeks in the Patagonian Andes we finally found one! LOOK – Isn’t it AWESOME!

FINALLY – THE WOODPECKER – YES! Now we just needed a better picture…

It was quite a scenic walk, although not as dramatic as the high-mountain walk we did in Bariloche (as CC kept mentioning…) but it was very pleasant, and we even found one bridge that had not been replaced, so that CC could be a daredevil again:

CC crosses a dodgy bridge.

Even better, we also saw another woodpecker – even closer than last time – so we were totally woodpecker-satisfied.

Magellanic Woodpecker

On the way back, we also saw another cool bird – although it is an introduced bird, it gets a free pass because it looks very cool..

California Quail

Although the birds are the most important part of the walk of course, here are some other pics of the walk that are not birds. These are mediocre pictures compared to the birds… but better than nothing (or maybe not…)

The River Azul
The Cajon Azul (Blue Canyon) – it looks better in real life…
There is now no limit to CC’s bravery, as she decends rickety wooden ladders without question.
The Rio Azul, looking a bit more ‘blue’.
The mountain view on the way back to Wharton.

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