Route 40: From Esquel to Gobernador Costa
Leaving Esquel, south of the 43rd Parallel, Route 40 follows the ancient path of “rastrillada tehuelche”. This is the territory of the steppe, with small fresh water sources called “mallines” in the language of Mapuche aborigines, which have a vibrant green color. This area is also the home of many cattle and sheep ranches —created by man— and small oasis of fresh water —created by nature— scattered across the arid landscape. It is 181 km. (asphalt), and there are services in Tecka, approximately half way road. You’ll find petrol in Tecka and Gobernador Costa.
Route 40 runs parallel to the mountain range of the Andes, never straying more than 60 kilometers from its soaring peaks. Every once in a while the road meets up with other smaller roads that run east-west into the mountain range and pass the stunning lakes of the region. You can take a detour to better see how the vegetation changes from arid mesa to the green forests that cover this part of the mountain range.
There are also numerous estancias, many of which offer lodging.
From Gobernador Costa we can travel close to Lake General Vintter by gravel road. This is an excellent fishing sight, both by boat and from the shore. On the riverbanks one can partake in free camping without services or rent a cabin, which are normally rented by fishermen.
Before arriving at the lake make sure to stop off in Río Pico, a small town of 2000 souls, where you can buy their famous cheeses, cured meats and honey, which are prepared by descendants of German settlers.