Getting to know the Route
The route is part of the stretch of the mountain range that was used by the Patagonian Tehuelche people more than 3,000 years ago and it is part of the route of the cattle drivers with more than 130 years of history.
This route invites you to know the life of the cattle drivers (mulateers), with a lifelong experience together with their families, full of adventures, that starts in the heart of the mountain range on the shore of the Manso River near the Pass border with the same name. We know that the colonization is different in the entire Patagonia. Here we can see some traces of the first colonial populations at the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century.
We will get to know the Bahamonde family in this place. They were the first ones to arrive at these lands after the Telhuelche people left and after the desert campaign on the Argentinian side. They came mainly from Osorno, traveling through Argentina on horse and settled just a few meters where the emblematic house is located in the Binational yard built in 1930 of cypress and larch wood. Currently it is still in good conditions.
The knowledge they have regarding the plants, animals, the seasons, the climate amongst others, have been the key of living in this landscape. The know-how and sharing their experiences from generation to generation are essential for keeping this bond with this place.
Our guides are the experienced local cattle drivers who have a deep knowledge of this mountainous region. They have made their lives from the Andean mountain range developing a unique way of life. This epic activity earned the recognition of Unesco in 2013 for keeping this hundred-year-old culture alive with extreme sacrifice, making them sovereigns of the frontier.
This experience invites you to submerge yourself into the “gaucha” cattle driving culture. Together with their families you will live the traditional cattle moving in the heart of the Andes Mountains. You will learn about their job as a cattle driver and its different facets (“marucho” the young man who gathers the cattle, “tropero” cattle driver, “tropillero” is at the head of the cattle driving). You will also lodge in a colonial home, enjoy their gastronomy and share in the activities in the country.
All of this will be accompanied with juicy stories, full of mischief and mysticism with El Bastión of the Andes in the background (Natural Border of Chile and Argentina).
You need a unique patience to move the animals, since they are the ones who control the time and the advancing of the expedition.
Our hosts will be Toto, Marlene, Chanita and Tono.
|Day 1||Transfer from Bariloche, Argentina to El León Pass at 3:00 in the afternoon. The guide team will receive you and welcome you with the warmth of a roasted lamb on the stick and an overnight stay.|
|Day 2||This is where the big adventure begins. You will be given a horse with whom you will have to have an affinity and complicity to overcome the obstacles in the road. You will go horseback riding and cattle driving until we reach the end of the Valley of the León River.|
|Day 3||Horseback riding in the morning through the Valley of the León River, returning to the Border. After sharing a delicious lunch and visiting a heritage house we will return to Bariloche.|
Know in detail the route:
The historical house with a binational yard: This house belongs to the Bahamonde Carrillo Family. It was built in 1930 with wood (cypress and larch). Half of the yard is in Argentina and the other half is in Chile.
El León Pass: This is located on the Manso River basin. The name was given to it because of the “mountain lions” that are abundant in this area. One of them hunted a calf belonging to “Motoco” who was the first cattle driver that crossed these lands with animals.
This place is located just a few meters from the border (International Pass Manso River) that connect Chile with Argentina.
León River: This was during the time when the territory was expanding in 1880. A Chilean cattle driver named Pedro “Motoco” Cárdenas from Rio Bueno was passing through these valleys driving cattle towards Argentina. He put up camp on the shores of the river. When he woke up, he checked his herd and realized that there was a calf missing. A little further on he found it dead. A mountain lion had hunted it. Since then the name of this place was called from this mysterious encounter “The Lion Pass” told by the disturbed cattle herder. Later the place began to be called this. Motoco finished his trip close to El Bolsón colonizing the New Valley where he settled down.
Río Manso Bridge: This bridge connects El León Pass with the Manso River.
The Lake of the Cattle Drivers: Picturesque mountain lake located at the highest point of the journey.
Vidal Gormáz Lake: Picturesque mountain lake located in a landscape of great beauty. A shelter of nature suspended in time. The colonists live there during the whole year practically disconnected with the world in a pure and natural environment. This place is ideal for sport fishing the Fontinalis trout.
Archeological sites of Cave Paintings: We can get a glimpse of the Tehuelche people lifestyle through the cave paintings. They would stamp their particular style in the mountain range of Chile and Argentina. The main route that the Tehuelche groups used to pass through the mountain range is from the Villegas, Foyel and Manso rivers in the Argentinian Patagonia (which have the main concentration of archeological sites) up to Manso river on the Chilean side and the Torrentoso and Correntoso rivers up to the southern shore of Vidal Gormaz Lake, to arrive at the Reloncaví Estuary through the Cochamó pass: today it is being used by the cattle drivers to move cattle.
The Arch: This is a natural arch made of rock where it descends abruptly on the river with the same name. The unevenness of more than 20 meters gives life to a waterfall. Inside the top of the arch starts a larch (alerce), giving life to a dreamy postcard.
Relics on the Chilean-Argentinian road: The Cochamó company built a road from Cochamó up to El Manso, Argentina between 1900 and 1902 to move the cattle better through the El Leon Pass during the summer months and part of the fall months. As you go through the cattle driving route you will find some relics of what might have been this great binational trade route. You will find some very old shelters, paths made with logs, remains of telegraphs and bridge sleepers in the rivers that have the highest water flow.
The ruins of the Cochamó Company: You can still find some ruins of what used to be the old company in Cochamó, lord houses, slaughterhouses, docks and a huge legacy for the cultural heritage of the community.
Log Path: The log paths are long extensions of paths build over the low and very humid paths to avoid having an unstable road for the animal movement.
La Junta: A huge concentration of North Patagonia basalt and summits of more than one thousand meters high. These summits receive thousands of rock climbers from around the world who are looking to live an experience of opening new routes on the Big Wall, the biggest one in South America.
Cochamó Valley: The jewel of this region with great historical importance is the Cochamó Valley. The retreat of the glaciers conspired in a sea and rock symphony, creating granite walls and spectacular rugs of over 30,000 hectares of Valdivian forest of very high value where the most important ones are the ulmo, mañío, coigüe and thousand-year-old larch trees.
Butch Cassidy: The famous North American bandit Butch Cassidy and his gang arrived at the Patagonia in 1901 after assaulting a bank in Nevada. They settled in Cholilla, very close to the mountain range on a 10,000-hectare piece of land owned by the Cochamó Company. They would pass through the Cattle Driving Route to trade their cattle with the company in 1905 selling their best cattle and then fleeing from these lands after committing bank robberies in the Patagonia banks.