One of the hidden jewels of Argentina, San Martin de los Andes offers visitors a wide spectrum of outdoor activities, cultural landmarks, restaurants and the simple, physical beauty that Argentina is known for. Located in the northwest portion of Argentina, it sits quite close to the Peruvian border, serving as the gateway to the Lanin National Park.
San Martin de los Andes was founded on February 4th, 1898. At that time, General Reduceindo Roca arrived in the valley of the Lacar Lake to formally establish a village and was able to do so in cooperation with Cacique Curruhunca. Initially, the village's economy was agriculturally based, but over the last few decades, tourism has come to the fore, and given its location, beautiful landscape, and vibrant history, San Martin de los Andes has become a very popular tourist destination.
For the visitor, whether staying only for a short while or an extended vacation, San Martin de los Andes offers a wide range of activities.
The most visible attraction is Lacar Lake, which offers exhilarating hikes, breathtaking views, and an invigorating swim. Located near downtown on the northeastern shore of the lake, serves as an excellent starting point for watersports in and around Lacar Lake.
For those that wish to travel a little further afield, there are hikes to Cerro Colorado, La Islita, Catritre Beach, or Quila Quina Village. Each of these destinations are within 5 miles of the center of town, and provide a beautiful and varied tour of the surrounding area.
For those looking for even more active travel options, San Martin de los Andes proximity to Mount Chapelco offers the very finest in a winter getaway. It is an internationally known resort with over thirty ski routes, ten ski lifts, and a mountain top coffee-shop, accessible by cable-car, that provides views of the surrounding peaks. Mount Chapelco is not simply a winter destination, though, as in summer time it becomes a venue for horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing.
For those interested in the culture and history of the region there are the First Settlers Museum and Argentine Liscence Plate Museum, along with boat tours of the lake. Visitors aren't limited to tours on the water, though, and can have varied views of San Martin de los Andes from horseback, by bus, and even from the air! The Aeroclub de los Andes offers glider tours of the region or you could paraglide in Chapelco. Finally, visitors can tour Patagonia by horseback of bike, truly having every option to take in the breathtaking landscape.
San Carlos de Bariloche
Also accessible from San Martin de los Andes is Bariloche, located on Lake Nahuel Huapi which has become one of Argentina's top tourist destination. Like San Martin de los Andes, it offers excursions and sport options year round, but also can be a destination for dance, music, and an active night-life.
After a days hike or time spent on the mountain, San Martin de los Andes offers its visitors a fine selection of restaurants with offerings to suit every palate. From El Meson de la Patagonia and its delectable seafood, to La Costa del Pueblo and its country style and beautiful view of Lacar Lake to Los Notros Restaurant and its fusion of international dishes and traditional Patagonian cuisine, San Martin de los Andes is an excellent destination for those looking for a delicious and enjoyable meal.
How to get There
San Martin de los Andes is accessible via National Routes 5, 35, 153, 143, Provincial Route 20 (La Pampa), National Routes 151, 22, 237 and 234. There are also a few flights weekly from Buenos Aires.
There are three main ways to Bariloche. Each start on National Route 234, but the two choices with the most even footing turn off onto different roads (Route 63 to Route 237, Route 65 to Route 237), but one can also stay on Route 234, also known as the Seven Lake Road, till the final destination.
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