A motorboat tour on the waters of Lake Traful towards some of its nooks showed us its relief and mystery.
Many natural attractions turn Villa Traful into an unforgettable spot. Here, where nature has a thousand secrets to offer, we were invited to see a forest like no other. Why? Because its roots lie under water and because we had to sail across the crystal-clear waters of Lake Traful in order to see this magical site. A great part of the almost 60 cypresses that make up the forest come out of the water surface and become visible when the boat reaches the opposite shore. The top of this forest displays leafless trunks featuring a whitish hue, faded by their exposition to the water and the sunshine. The boat took a turn so as to help the water surface become calm. The silence around was suddenly invaded by our exclamations as we looked down. The erect trunks could be watched at first sight. They are cypresses that once lived on the hillside of Bayo Hill, or Alto Mahuida. As a result of a landslide that took place in the 1960s, these trees ended up at the bottom of the lake as they held onto the rocky soil on which they stood. Believe it or not, the transparency and the calmness of the water let us see it in spite of the almost fifteen meters of depth. The trunks have lost their garments. They seem to be petrified. Do they have a root? Why don’t they fall? One question was followed by another.
Guardians of the Lake
It is amazing to think that these cypresses have remained there in spite of the passing of time. They have not lost either their distinction or their upright position. They look like guardians watching the shore. A mystery of nature and a must visit for lovers of SCUBA diving, who come along from all points to enjoy the experience and take great underwater pictures. We left this rarity behind and bordered the much eroded cliffs that make up the northern shore of the lake. Huge rocky formations unveil grottos and caves. Access to those areas is impossible due to the high walls.
At one of the caves, we saw an image of the virgin and Fernando Sciaroni, our guide, talked to us about the gratitude of a sailor who was caught by surprise by a heavy storm and saved his life using that hiding place. As a tribute, he raised a statue of Virgin Stella Maris, the patron saint of fishermens, at that spot. We continued our tour and at the end of the cliffs we came to a bay with a nice beach of white sands. Protected from the wind, everything was quiet and we had an excellent visibility of the lake bottom. We got off the boat to dive in. As we returned to the village, we were balanced by the swell and got a general view of both shores. We noticed the difference between the two margins. The lake, which spreads from West to East, is a natural corridor for the mountain range winds. Fernando described each one of the hills on the horizon. Traful Peak, which reaches 2,400 meters of height, is the tallest. Others owed their names to the shapes they convey from a distance: Montura Chilena
(Chilean Saddle), Carpa
(Tent), Cerro Negro
(Black Hill) and El Monje
(The Monk). The village was nestled among the trees and could barely be seen from the water. Only a few houses with black roofs and chimneys built on a hill could be appreciated. Fernando was proud to assert that “the lake is free from pollution, as it is one of the few lakes in Patagonia where people may still drink the water without any reason to worry”. To crown our outing, we came close to the huge rock we spotted from solid ground. It is called the Wind Viewpoint for a good reason: the strength of the wind made it difficult for us to reach that spot. At the base of that huge rocky mass, we entered a natural cave after some maneuvers. We had very little space to move but it was enough to take a picture of that strange dark place. We returned to port and once more beheld the spot on Bayo Hill from where the cypress forest slid off years ago. We confirmed that a similar forest had replaced it. Thus, just like in real life, the mysterious actions of nature do not cease to amaze us because renovation comes next.