The following morning as we drove towards the entrance to the National Park, we saw an eagle having breakfast at the side of the road. We stopped to look at his meal and found that it was a small skunk, another surprise as we did not expect to see them here. We’d already seen flamingos standing in a lake and although we were aware of the fact that they lived in Argentina, were amazed to see them this far south, living in such cold conditions.
Driving around the various roads in the park we stopped to admire the views and to watch any wildlife we came across. The roads took us quite close to the mountains, close enough we felt, to reach out and touch them. The fact that we could see many of them from the base to the peaks at the same time, gave their massive bulk so much more impact. We chose a lunch stop at a lay-by high above a lake and even though we were sitting in full sunshine, we could feel the chill of the ice and snow on the uppermost heights of the nearest peaks. A curtain of misty blue reflected from the lake and clung to the sides of the mountains but did nothing to hide their mass and the monkey-puzzle of cuts and scratches that were smeared across the granite slopes. From here too, we could see the piercing blue in the ice of the glaciers that hung down from the topmost ridges. We visited as many of the lakes as we could and wondered how each could be such a different colour from the others, when they were all so close together.
According to the car rental man, petrol was available in the park at a hostel called Posada Serrano. This hostel was a collection of scruffy buildings with an administration block for access to the trails in the National Park. We spent some time checking out various buildings before we found someone to sell us petrol. This was stored in a battered rusty tank sitting precariously on the back of a trailer a short distance from the administration block. A rather taciturn fellow, pumped fuel by hand into a large can which he then transferred into the petrol tank through a funnel. This refuelling operation took quite some time and effort on his behalf and we were pleased that he had finished and extinguished his cigarette before he started. In hindsight we were fortunate to even find this run down, dreary Posada, extremely lucky that there was petrol available and similarly fortunate in finding someone to help us. We had only the most rudimentary map of the entire park with hostels and shelters no more than a smudged spot in some cases and roads - well tracks, there were no roads as we would describe them, resembled the trace marks of a demented spider. We handed over a fistful of American dollars and our thanks and exited as quickly as possible before the grumpy pump attendant could ignite the fresh cigarette that had appeared between his lips. From all reports this hostel has improved a lot since we were there.