Patagonian Train and Old Patagonian Express “La Trochita” in Río Negro
No one could deny that trains have a certain magic. Spending the night in a train with a private cabin and dining car, while the Patagonian plateau is reflected in the window is almost a scene from a movie, but in Patagonia anything is possible. This circuit proposes to rediscover the railway mystique, because this is a train that crosses the province of Río Negro, and also because you take a brief ride on a historic steam train. On the way, you also get to know some of the productive activities in the area.
The tour begins in San Carlos de Bariloche, an iconic tourist city in Patagonia, and one of the headwaters of the Patagonian Train. This suggested four-day circuit begins with an urgent proposal: the Beer Route. The production of craft beer is an art that has become deeply rooted in Bariloche where there are about 25 enterprises of this type. It is an obligatory appointment to know the secrets of its elaboration, and to carry out tastings and pairings with the exquisite local gastronomy.
The next day a transfer of 200 kms by route to Ingeniero Jacobacci is proposed to board “La Trochita”, a historic steam train that runs on narrow gauge tracks dating from 1922. In an hour and a half this unique formation runs through the 43 kms that separate Jacobacci from Ojo de Agua, where the proposal is to enjoy lunch in this place located in the middle of the Patagonian plateau and return to Jacobacci also aboard the Old Patagonian Express.
After a well-deserved rest in this quiet town, which is the head of the so-called “South Line” in the Province of Río Negro, we go in search of adventure to the “Carrilafquen Chica” and “Grande” lagoons, where different nautical activities can be carried out. From there, a tour of the Plastic Waste Recycling Plant is suggested to learn about this interesting project that will generate genuine fuel for “La Trochita”, from the recycling of plastics from the population of municipalities on the South Line.
In this area, livestock, particularly activity, stands out, so it is possible to know the way of life of the “crianceros” (breeders), how they work and perform their tasks, and have lunch in a rural establishment. Later, to continue learning about the productive activity in the area, a visit to the “Maria Isabel” deposit, a diatom mine, one of the most prominent in the production of sanitary stones for cats and pets. It is necessary to take into account to request authorization a few days in advance to enter this factory.
In the late afternoon, you will have to go to the old train station to board the Patagonian Train, where you will travel throughout the night to arrive in the morning at the city of Viedma, capital of the Province.
The experience on this train is a journey in itself. From the mountain range to the sea, the railway crosses the entire Patagonian steppe; the landscape is a desert, barely dotted by small towns. Inside the train, it will be necessary to take advantage of the daytime hours to admire the Rio Negro geography in its entirety, dine in the dining car, and then rest in a comfortable private cabin. In the morning, have a breakfast watching through the window how the landscape is changing to finally arrive at Viedma, where this circuit ends.
It should be noted that the route could well be done in the opposite direction, since the two head cities of the Patagonian Train have good accessibility to arrive by land or air. It is advisable to check the schedules and frequencies that may vary throughout the year and to book in advance, especially if you plan to board the train with your own vehicle, a service that is also offered and it facilitates the logistics of the route.