Towering red rocks, intense crevice paths that disappear with the encounter of each new wall, complete solitude, an untouched beauty, and virtually unknown. There you have an introductory explanation to Dique Florentino Ameguino. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either. A road trip invitation with a group of friends was all the influence it took to jump into a car full of friends heading to an unknown destination.
From Puerto Madryn we headed south. Past Trelew, the most populated city of the region, past Gaiman, the green Welsh village, we stopped in Dolavon, known for their amazing meats, and loaded up for an asado, and then there was nothing but us and the flat empty road ahead.
I had failed to ask many questions regarding our destination due to the excitement of our road trip adventure. And suddenly, in the enormous solitude of the road we were following, I felt overwhelmed by the nothingness before me. Eventually an old run down gas station came into view, the only landmark for miles, and across the street was our turn off. I looked ahead as far as I could see until the road disappeared into the face of a small rock formation. This stack of rocks was the first change in scenery we’d seen for the previous couple hours and I managed to dig my camera out from our collection of road trip necessities just as we turned the corner past it.
I frantically whipped around to try to take a picture, but the moment my eyes returned to the road ahead my interest was instantaneously redirected at the natural wonder we were approaching. The sun’s rays were captured in the shining blue reservoir waters and the wall of red rock formations that surrounded us in every direction. The beauty and shock of what I was looking at brought me to silence and it wasn’t until a few minutes later, while standing on the road’s edge, that I was finally able to express my enthusiasm of being there.
I never would have guessed that within the arid climates of this part of the country that our road trip would have taken us to this incredible landscape and scenery. Perhaps if I had asked some questions before leaving, or known that the Spanish word ‘dique’ means ‘dam’, then I would not have been quite as surprised.
Cradled in the valley on the other side of the dam was the town Dique Florentino Ameguino. Green trees and vegetation flourish throughout the small one church town. We drove through the mountain tunnels, made the loop along the river, past the two small grocers, to the park, through the scattered homes, and then we headed into the gigantic rocks for some adventuring.
After taking a drive to see the sights, we selected our favorite crevice and headed inside the unseen and unknown configurations for our hiking quest. Every rock was unique in color and shape and provided a new opportunity or challenge. We hiked through, up, and around the endless rocks for hours; yet we never crossed paths with another person. With extra precaution we managed to summit a couple of the massive rocks; however, rock climbing is not a recommended recreational activity here due to the instability and fragile nature of the stones.
And finally, when the sun was beginning to drop, and the temperature along with it, we decided we should head back to our vehicle. The virtually undisturbed surroundings were even more impressive over the fading light of the day.
A couple of hours later, sitting around our camp fire and drooling over the asado being prepared, the last shadows of the night disappeared. We stayed up to gloat about our journey and plan the next day’s hike until the sound of the rippling current of the Rio Chubut alongside our tent put us to sleep.
The next morning’s hike was just as incredible and we were all sorry when it came to an end. Driving along the old dusty road on our way home, I looked out the back window and watched as the rocks and water vanished just as suddenly as they had appeared the day before. It was as if Dique Florentino Ameguino had strategically been hidden in this incredible location and I was so grateful I was one of the lucky ones to discover its beauty.