Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
Phil Hopkins
Arts & Travel Editor
8:00 AM 23rd April 2021

The Ruta 40 - Argentina’s Most Beautiful Road Trip

Pura Aventura, the company that has pioneered self-drive trips along Chile’s Carretera Austral is hopping across the border to Argentinian Patagonia this year to showcase the jaw-droppingly scenic Ruta 40, one of the world’s longest highways.

The Ruta 40 runs parallel to the Andes, along the western borders of Argentina and Pura Aventura’s new journey will focus on the southern stretch from the forests and lakes near Bariloche to the expansive steppe of Patagonia National Park, all the way down to the iconic peaks of the Fitzroy range and glaciers of the Patagonian icefields.

With quiet, traffic-free roads, wild open spaces and blockbuster vistas at every turn, the classic Ruta 40 road trip has it all in abundance: glistening lakes, glaciers, vast forests, canyons and towering peaks.

The 21-day self drive trip mixes private guiding with independent exploration to allow guests to delve a little deeper into the region. From Buenos Aires, fly to the foothills of the Andes to explore Argentina’s oldest National Park, Nahuel Huapi, on foot, by kayak or from horse-back. Then it’s time to collect a 4x4 to hit the Ruta 40, driving south past Argentina’s picture-perfect Lake District and across the steppe, pausing on the shores of the emerald green Lago Pehoe. From the rural town of Esquel, discover flamingo filled salt lakes, canyons, volcanoes and standing stones, plus explore the self-guided walking trails of the Los Alcerces National Park with its forests of ancient trees, lakes and glaciers.

Further highlights on the journey south include: guided hikes in Patagonia National Park; visiting the impressive archaeological site of the Cueva de las Manos; a day spent tracking the elusive puma; and an adventurous course along the picturesque Ruta 41 with its kaleidoscopic lunar landscapes of red, green, grey and blue striped volcanoes.
The final leg of the journey reveals some of Patagonia’s most iconic scenery, driving below the staggeringly beautiful jagged skyline of the Fitzroy mountain range towards El Chalten, a great base to explore the mountains of the Southern Patagonian ice field and where guests enjoy a guided hike around the base of Mount Fitz Roy. The finale is a stay on a family-owned estancia on the shores of Lago Argentino, from where a small boat trip to admire the Perito Moreno glacier is a fitting end to this Patagonian adventure.

This holiday carefully balances off the beaten track exploration with the more popular sites. For example, Perito Moreno Glacier is visited in the quiet of late afternoon, and the use of the 4x4 means that guests can access some of El Chalten’s lesser-traversed trails.

Price: Costs from £7,250pp based on 2 sharing, including 19 nights’ B&B accommodation, some meals (7 lunches, 5 dinners), internal flights, 4x4 car hire and 8½ days’ guiding/excursions (mostly private). International flights to Buenos Aires are extra. Travel between October and April.

Those who prefer not to self-drive can opt for Pura Aventura’s Across Argentine Patagonia, a private journey in the company of expert local guides. This 19-day break reveals many of Patagonia’s highlights, from the wildlife hotspots along the Valdés Península to the rewilded grasslands of Patagonia National Park travelling along the epic Ruta 40 to Mount Fitz Roy, and finishing with the Perito Moreno Glacier in rare solitude. From £7,540pp.

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