Manuel Varela has worked as a Java Developer at Santex for almost a year now. He is passionate about hiking and discovering new places.
When did your passion for trekking start?
I think I was 15 years old. I lived all my childhood in Rio de los Sauces (a village in the Valle de Calamuchita – Córdoba) and for a few years my dad was a wildlife ranger in the region. He protected the trout from the area against poachers. I used to go with him sometimes and take long walks along the shores of rivers. That woke in me something I had never felt before, “the pleasure of enjoying nature in its pure state”.
My first outing was at 18 with two friends. We went to the “Hidden Village” at the base of Cerro Aspero.
It’s part of a mining complex that began its operations in the late 19th century and was abandoned in the mid-twentieth century, leaving most of the facilities and machinery intact and even some of the tunnels open.
I highly recommend for people to go. It’s hard to get to by car, but you can leave the car a few miles before and just walk 🙂
What was the most challenging adventure you undertook?
The most challenging trip I took was a couple of years ago in Patagonia, Argentina. I went with 3 friends to tour the early stages of the “Andean footprint“, a path linking the different lakes of various national parks in Patagonia, near the town of San Martin de los Andes in Neuquén.
The trip lasted a week, crossing the trails within the Lanin National Park. Everyday we were moving places, walking between 10 and 15 km per day carrying all our luggage on our backs. Our backpacks weighed about 20kg each, considering that we had a tent, sleeping bags, food, water and clothing among other things needed to survive that week.
The adventure was unforgettable! The landscapes were incredible. During the trip, we went through different sights like the base of the Lanin volcano (whose peak is covered with snow all year), vast forests of native trees (such as Araucaria), rivers and lakes with absolutely crystal clear waters, rivers petrified by volcanic lava and we even walked for several miles in of volcanic ash, which made walking challenging.
What would you recommend to someone who wants to start trekking?
You don’t need to be an expert or be physically fit or have the latest tech equipment for trekking. You just need have desire to have a good time outdoors walking around and be very curious to discover new places.
I would recommend you start walking through parks and green areas around your city with a backpack, water, and some healthy snacks (like fruit, for example).
If that you like it, you can contact one of the groups that organizes hikes on the weekends. Here in Cordoba, for example, I know of at least 10 groups that organize trekking trips around the area to spend the day and with a low level of difficulty so that everyone can do it.
As for equipment, it is important to invest in good shoes, and secondly a good backpack that fits your body.
Where would you like to go next?
In the near future I plan to go with a friend to Quebrada del Condorito National Park for 2 weeks.
In the long term, I would like to continue with the stages of the “Huella Andina”. I want to continue with the trails southbound of San Martin de los Andes to reach the Nahuel Huapi National Park until I can complete it someday (there are 24 stages).
Trekking is a very relaxing activity. It takes you out of the noise and fast pace of the city to meet in a quiet place with pure, fresh air. It clears your head of your problems.
A great book to read as inspiration is “Into the Wild”. It tells the story of a young American who was fed up with society and materialism decided to donate all his money and start traveling through the U.S. living in an abandoned bus.