- Ski resort
Esquel was my last stop in Argentina before returning to Chile. Instead of undertaking a long journey from El Bolsón, I decided to break it up and stop here for a couple of nights.
One there, I got chatting with some Argentinians who were touring Patagonia on a kind of 'sailboat with wheels'...The enthusiasm they had for Patagonia's plains was infectious. I also met a couple of Brits on the bus and we decided to have an 'asado' , as there was a barbecue in the hotel's garden.
The town's not that big and has a Wild West feel, with its grid layout and low level buildings. Esquel is in a dip surrounded by mountains. The receptionist suggested I take a walk through the nearby forest to some little lakes where you can go swimming or have a picnic.
The following morning we booked our seats on the La Trochita tourist train - an old steam train that goes to the village of Mapuche de Nahuel Pan, 20km down the line. The landscape was stunning; we crossed plains where gauchos were minding their herds...
I've often heard that the location doesn't have anything very interesting... A point of view which must not take into account the city's geographical location with the backdrop of high mountain valleys and lush landscapes. Besides, I think that I saw my most beautiful city sunset in Esquel!
Of course, the village itself is not necessarily even worth the detour and doesn't offer the Bohemian spirit of its direct competitor, the village of El Bolsón, so cherished by backpackers (justifiably so, in fact). In any event, I really liked coming to this place, especially for the trip in the park adjacent to the city, which serves as the area's tourist icon. A big lake, thousand-year-old trees, lush vegetation... Pure bliss. You can even ski there in the winter (understand that I went there in the summer).
Train enthusiasts can take part in a 15-mile getaway on the Old Patagonian Express, the region's oldest steam engine. I didn't try the experience, so I have no opinion on the subject.
At any rate, if you've decided to include the famous Route 40 on your Argentinian itinerary and the weather is nice, don't hesitate to stop in Esquel for a few days.