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Tracks in the Desert

   
 Estimated reading time: 2 min. Texts K. Jozami   Photos Jorge González (1) y Desert Tracks (2)
4 x 4 vehicle tours in Las Grutas

We left the warm beach in order to explore some of the most spectacular nooks in the Patagonian coast on board 4x4 vehicles. An adventure not to be missed.

    
In order to get to know Las Grutas' incredible neighbouring areas, there is nothing better than venturing to travel the Patagonian coast and the steppe in the company of Desert Tracks. This well-known company invites all visitors to get on 4x4 trucks and discover the fantastic geography and history of this region. The guides' expertise, the amusing programs and the fascinating places visited turn excursions into a unique experience.

Fully equipped Dogde war tracks, kept in perfect conditions, provide security and entertainment to passengers. We ventured to visit two classical corners near Las Grutas' seaside: Fort Argentino and Gualicho Salt Deposit, in the Desert Track style.
4 x 4 vehicle tours in Las Grutas
    
Excursion to Fort Argentino

We left early in the morning, getting away from the center and heading towards the South along the well known path “Camino de los pulperos”, an extaordinary rubble road that crosses the changing geography of the Patagonian Atlantic coast. After passing through “Villa de los pulperos” and travelling this desolate landscape, we visited Coloradas beach, where the most adventurous have the opportunity to sled down the wide sand dunes and the naturalists can go on an interpretation hike to experience bird watching.
We continued traveling for ten kilometers more towards the South up to our next stop: “El Sótano” (The Basement). This place has a singular feature: the greatest difference in tides is recorded here. The guides showed us the path to Las Ostras Ravine, and after a two-kilometer hike, we found thousands of sea fossils from the Upper Tertiary Period, dating back to over 15 million years ago.

On our way back, the trucks were waiting for us to continue traveling to the base of the fort, a geographic point located on a 192-meter- high plateau. We were puzzled to hear that there is a hidden treasure in this area.
4 x 4 vehicle tours in Las Grutas
While we were walking across this moor, the Desert Track people were pitching our camp and preparing the asado. Lunch was an exquisite typical local feast, with enough wine to extend the gathering. After lunch, we were invited to practice some snorkelling in the Flecha Cansado Lagoon and to practice crossbow shooting.

After relaxing for a while, we were called to hear a chat about “The Templers' Enigma”, given by a connoisseur. According to journalistic research and the work done by a NGO, traces have been found that this military and religious order had been to these coasts before Columbus arrived in America. The controversial theory gave rise to many discussions in different religious and scientific areas. This intriguing story about the fort remained in our minds for a while.

Eventually, after granting the prizes to the winners of the crossbow shooting tournament, we made a toast with champagne at the end of the day as we admired the evening by the coast.
4 x 4 vehicle tours in Las Grutas
    
Exploration at the Gualicho Salt Deposit

This time, one of the historical Desert Track war trucks offered to take us to the Gualicho Salt Deposit. At about three in the afternoon, we left from Las Grutas bathing resort to travel about 60 kilometers along the Patagonian Atlantic coast up to this amazing natural scenery. As we advanced, the guides told us los bajos de Gualicho are the widest salt deposits in Argentina, the second largest salt deposit in South America, after the Uyuni Salt Deposit, in Bolivia.
It belongs to a group of salt deposits that covers up a surface of 430 square kilometers and lies 72 meters below sea level, which constitutes the second largest depression in the country.

When we arrived at the Gualicho area, we discovered a great amount of fossils which give evidence of the sea origin of the deposit.
4 x 4 vehicle tours in Las Grutas
The coordinators told us different myths and stories about theTehuelches and Mapuches who would populate this region. Afterwards, we explored the salt piles that can weight up to half a million tons and we talked to some workers about their own experiences in this arid place.
We made it through the very core of the salt deposits, amazed at its strange atmosphere, where we made a toast and shared a picada (a snack consisting of small slices of cheese, ham, salami, etc.).

Later, in the last stage of the excursion, we ate pollo al disco (chicken cooked on an old plow disk) under a starry sky. We looked at the moon through a telescope and wore infra-red glasses to observe the salt deposit at night. Once more, we discovered this fantastic scenery. A must.
4 x 4 vehicle tours in Las Grutas
Useful Data
Timetables
To be arranged with the adventure travel agency.
 
Recommendations
Both excursions include gastronomy service.
Do not forget to pack a bathing suit to practice snorkelling, sun protection and comfortable and warm clothes.
 
Contact
Desert Tracks
Viedma 1145 (8521) Las Grutas / San Antonio Oeste - Río Negro - Argentina
Tel: +54 2934 49-7843  Cel: (02920) 15-414263  
e-mail
 
 
Inter Patagonia

Characteristics
Level of Difficulty
medium
Duration
he excursion to Fort Argentino takes all day, whereas the exploration to the Gualicho Salt Mines takes half a day.
Tour Kind
4x4
Other Characteristics
Combined scuba diving and adventure programs.
Useful Data Useful Data



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