Our hosts in Hosteria Al Paraíso in Villa Pehuenia were a mine of information to help us with our trip. They had suggest Martin as our guide yesterday and he certainly took us to places that we would never have found on our own, recommended places to eat, arranged taxis to those restaurants and now suggested that Junin de los Andes was a good place to stop for a night or two and recommended a hosteria. It was only 122 km so we took things at a very steady pace, made more stops over the distance than usual, whenever the conditions looked promising.
The first stop (S2117) was a mistake. We had been travelling on a dirt road and I had noticed that at times, the strong wind, coming up from behind us, seemed to overtake the car (it was my driving day). We were in an area that could house some Pterocactus – a flat area, sandy with some rocks. But after 10 -15 minutes it was clear to me that there were no cacti there, so I returned to the car. Before reaching the car I was engulfed in a sand storm. It only lasted a few minutes and was quite local, but my decision to return to the car seemed a sound one. It was a no cactus Stop but I did take a few ‘before & after’ pictures as first there was a hillside with a line of Araucaria at the top, then just a shadow through another blast of the sandstorm. By now John had joined me, Juan was in the thick of it, videoing and Cliff was somewhere in the lee of a hillside. Eventually we were all back in the car and Cliff reported to have seen a small plant of Maihuenia patagonica in flower – and has pictures taken with his new camera to proof it. We believed him and decided that we did not have to see them ourselves.
S2118 was another No Cactus Stop, but nice scenery and roadside plants with a river in the back ground.
S2119 was because Juan woke up, looked out of the car window and spotted cacti on the cliff face along the road. How do you do it?!?! These were Austrocactus bertinii but they were only visible through the zoom lens as John caused a minor landslide trying to get to one of the clumps high on the hill. In the mean time, Juan walking along the road, found plants growing at eye level and lower – much better. Again the plants were in flower, but sadly, the sun had gone and the low light made good picture taking unlikely.
S2220 and Juan spotted cacti again – this time on low rocks, about a meter high. The similarities with small clumps of Echinocereus are remarkable – until you see the flowers.
Found another very nice hotel with very helpful staff to put together tomorrow’s program – if only the weather holds out.