Meseta de Somuncurá: el paraíso inhóspito y casi inaccesible que deslumbra a los viajeros más extremos

Meseta de Somuncurá: el paraíso inhóspito y casi inaccesible que deslumbra a los viajeros más extremos

SAN CARLOS DE BARILOCHE.— There are destinations that, due to their remoteness, their mystique and their inaccessibility, arouse passions. Legendary and remote places that make us feel like the first to set foot on them. That is what generates the Somuncurá Plateau, in the center of Río Negro, in a group of friends from the city of Lobos, province of Buenos Aires.

A group of friends from the city of Lobos, province of Buenos Aires, decided to undertake a trip through the plateauMinistry of Tourism of Río Negro

that particular landscape today formed by canyons was several times covered by the sea. Its formation began 40 million years ago and included the action of volcanoes. Access is extreme at many times of the year and can only be done in 4×4 vehicles. And it is precisely the complexity of the terrain that motivates this group of Wolves.

Somuncurá Plateau, tourism in Río Negro
Somuncurá Plateau, tourism in Río NegroAmiability

“The idea of ​​traveling to the plateau came from five friends: Gustavo D’Alessandro, Carlos ‘Carloto’ Pozzobon, Fernando ‘El Gordo’ Fassa, my brother Carlos and myself. El Gordo was the heart of the group, the one he always encouraged. Unfortunately, he had to go through an illness and was never able to make the long-awaited trip to the plateau, ”says Gustavo Apesteguía, 52, who is dedicated to the maintenance of green spaces in the Buenos Aires town.

One of the trips to the Meseta in 4x4
One of the trips to the Meseta in 4×4 Amiability

“Fernando’s brother-in-law, Carloto, lives in San Blas and is dedicated to sport fishing. At the beginning, with that original group we made some trips to inhospitable places, always off road, trying to get off the beaten track. On one of those expeditions, someone told us that he had gone to the Somuncurá Plateau with two friends. It was a destination that I already had in mind and that ended up deciding us”, adds Gustavo.

His brother Carlos, 46, who is an agricultural and livestock producer and lives in the countryside, 20 km from Lobos, adds: “When we first made the descent from San Blas along the beach to March 7, a small town at the mouth of the Negro River, Rodolfo Grandoso, a boy from Carmen de Patagones, sponsored the guide. At the end of that journey, he showed us photos of the plateau and that is when the idea of ​​making a longer trip began to emerge. A scheduled journey through places with a much greater difficulty than what they had done.

The impressive lagoon
The impressive lagoonMinistry of Tourism of Río Negro

Roasted in between, the gatherings began to plan the route. What would the logistics be like, who would get a gazebo, tents and sleeping bags. They also chose a name for the group: The Rustics. The first trip was made in April 2018, in two vans. “We left Lobos, we went to look for Carloto in San Blas and we spent the night in Las Grutas. Later we went to Valcheta, to the Chipauquil area further south and, from there, we entered the pure plateau. We pass through the Blue Lagoon, the Corona hill and we leave through Cona Niyeu. The plateau is captivating, only those who cross it realize the terrible magnitude that has. The immensity catches you and the landscape is spectacular”, says Carlos.

What motivates travelers the most is the complexity of the terrain
What motivates travelers the most is the complexity of the terrainMinistry of Tourism of Río Negro

“When we talked the first few times about facing a trip to that place, none of us had any idea what it really was. Searching a bit on the internet, they called it mystical, magical, infinite, but all that became clear when we were up there. We knew of another group that had to return due to the cold and the snow that had touched them. Those comments added to the difficulties that the exit presented defined the trip”, affirms D’Alessandro.

Its formation began 40 million years ago
Its formation began 40 million years agoAmiability

Since his vehicle was not suitable for the company, the 49-year-old programmer became the group’s official cook. “We decided that, due to food conservation issues, the meals would be based on stews and something similar to stews. But, in the end, we took the risk of also bringing some meat and chicken, which, with how cold it was, kept very well for a couple of days. An anecdote: one midday when the day was incredible, we stopped to have something to eat and we realized that some cans of beer that we had on the roof of one of the vans were colder than those in the cooler with ice”, recalls D’ Alessandro.

The following year, in 2019, the original group added new members: there were 12 friends in four vans who left for that unique stage that time. April was once again the chosen month. “On the second trip we went to Maquinchao on route 23. A friend, ‘el Turco’ Elías, who has a hotel opposite the railway station, was waiting for us with a lamb. From there, we entered the plateau through El Caín. We brought donations for the rural school of that place, it was a beautiful moment. Then we continue along a small path to Cona Niyeu. It was a crazy trip. We cross completely inhospitable places”, Gustavo Apesteguía enthuses.

Impressive view of the lagoon
Impressive view of the lagoonMinistry of Tourism of Río Negro

What motivates them the most is the complexity of the terrain. While there are no ledge roads, the trails are so dilapidated that speed cannot be gained. They say, for example, that on one of the crossings, doing 60 km, it took them almost 10 hours. “We were going along a road that goes through a dry river and, suddenly, the road was no more. We had to walk about 200 meters to see if it continued further on. We found a little path and we had to run stones to advance. Literally, you have to make your way”, laughs Gustavo.

The livestock office in the middle of the plateau
The livestock office in the middle of the plateauAmiability

In addition to the landscape, there are two elements that all friends highlight: the sky and the people who live in the Somuncurá Plateau. “It’s very hard to live there, those people make a homeland every day,” says Carlos. And his brother adds that “the few inhabitants are ranchers who are dedicated to raising goats and sheep, and live in the mouths of inactive volcanoes.”

The fauna of the area
The fauna of the areaMinistry of Tourism of Río Negro

On the first trip, Lobos’ friends made their way to set up camp at the mouth of one of those volcanoes. It was a cold and windless night. None will ever forget the starry sky that unfolded before their eyes.

“Another place where the nights are impressive is in the Blue Lagoon: the sky falls on you. And that I have lived in the countryside for years. But the clarity, the silence and the beauty that it has is incredible. The sky is spectacular both day and night, you can see from the first to the last star. And the lightening of the day is magnificent”, says Carlos.

The group of friends in El Caín
The group of friends in El CaínAmiability

D’Alessandro, the chef, agrees: “The Blue Lagoon is beautiful and you can’t believe you are in nothingness itself. I still have the memory of the sky full of stars and the reflection in the lagoon. Another corner that caught my attention was the Corona hill, since one comes from a completely flat landscape and, suddenly, you see that imposing figure in the distance and you do not understand how it was generated.

Ancient constructions can be found along the Somuncurá plateau
Ancient constructions can be found along the Somuncurá plateau

But Lobos’ friends don’t just live on memories. The years of the pandemic delayed the third journey through the plateau, but they will finally leave there next Monday, to try to conquer that desolate territory again. This time they will go to Los Menucos, on Route 23, and enter through Prahuaniyeu. From there, they will cross El Caín and continue south to Gan Gan and Gastre, and then cross the Chubut River through Paso de Indios. All that last stage will be done in Chubut territory: the Somuncurá Plateau is so large that it also covers part of that province.

The crossing, at times, is made by tracks of dry rivers
The crossing, at times, is made by tracks of dry riversAmiability

“The plateau catches you, it gets into your veins. You pass 10 km away from one road to the other and the landscape changes, it is inexplicable. And the difficulty is extreme. Only those who like to walk off the beaten track appreciate it. And when it’s with friends, not to mention, all your feelings are heightened, you even enjoy a game of tricks before eating at night”, synthesizes Carlos.

Postponed several times, the third trip to that precious destination appears on the horizon for these friends of Lobos like the diaphanous and infinite sky of the Somuncurá Plateau.

Photos: Courtesy: Ministry of Tourism of Río Negro

Photo editing: Fernanda Corbani