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| Estimated reading time: 2 min.|| Marcelo Sola Jorge González|
We traveled on the cars of the old La Trochita train and listened to stories and anecdotes from last century. We also appreciated the value of its existence in this particular location, away from urban centers from other times.
|La Trochita is a train that takes tourists down on a journey to the past starting at Esquel Railway Station. Last century, it used to join the Districts of Jacobacci and Esquel, and transport passengers and goods on a regular basis.|
In the summer, there are daily tours available that join Esquel -end of the original railway- and Nahuel Pan Station. They last half a day and border the great valley of Esquel, featuring a spectacular view of the high mountains of glacial origin that contain this vast space.
The train goes across the ecosystem known as “ecotone”. Travelers may watch the vegetation change from the Valdivian rainforest into the Patagonian desert on the way.
|The convoy is made up by a Belgian-American steam locomotive from the 1930s. This steel vehicle can reach a maximum speed of 45 kilometers per hour and a minimum of 5. |
Technically, the locomotive is called “super economic gauge” and it is one of the five convoys of this kind that have survived the passing of time. Its gauge measures just 75 centimeters, from rail to rail.
There is something typical and amazing at the same time about the moment in which the engine driver sets La Trochita in motion. He must activate a manual valve that sends steam from the dome to the piston, thus powering the locomotive. All this takes place while the boiler burns at full power with its 10,000 liters of fuel oil and its 10,000 liters of water.
|The column of smoke given off by the locomotive and the features of the narrow cars carrying tourists are part of a unique postcard for those who enjoy and photograph this image.|
Traveling on one of the cars, we were astonished by a pronounced bend that set us right in front of a mountain range reaching 1,800 meters MSL. The reddish hue of its volcanic rocks and its snow-capped peaks rendered us speechless.
The winding layout let us behold the changing geography of Patagonia and took us to Nahuel Pan Station. We saw the scattered houses of the local dwellers that devote themselves to pastoral activities and the production of loom crafts which they later sell in the markets. In general, they are descendants of the Mapuches who have inhabited these cold lands for ages.
|It is the Mapuche community which every year in March holds one of its most traditional religious festivals: the Camaruco. At the foot of Mount Nahuel Pan, they invoke their god with prayers in which they ask for their lives, needs and ancient customs.|
At that old station, maneuvers in order to detach and attach the cars are carried out so as to let the convoy return to the City of Esquel following the same rail. Passengers may stretch out their legs and walk around and take photographs while they wait. Afterwards, the train returns to Esquel.
To be confirmed at the railway station.
Viejo Expreso Patagónico
Roggero y Urquiza (9200) Esquel - Chubut - Argentina
Tel: +54 2945 45-1403