SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
JUNIN DE LOS ANDES
PLACES OF INTEREST
Lake Huechulafquen Circuit - Puerto Canoa - Lake Paimún
From Junín de los Andes you go 4 km along National Route N° 234, reaching Provincial Route N° 61 that is graveled and well tended, accompanying the river Chimehuín northwestwards on its left side.
After doing some 9 km, you will get to the CEAN (Centro de Ecología Aplicada del Neuquén) entry gate. Its timetable for the public is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays only. This is a center for animal research focusing on avoiding negative impact on the environments inhabited by different species.
Continuing the excursion, 22 km from Junín de los Andes one gets to the eastern tip of Huechulafquen lake and the entrance to Lanín National Park, where one can see the "Boca del Río Chimehuín" (Mouth of the Chimehuín River) that is a prime attraction, world famous as one of the best spots for fly-casting.
Another place to visit in the Huechulafquen ("needlepoint lake", translated) area is the gently undulating Hueyelthue valley, ideal for long-distance skiing, and accessible on foot or on horseback. Located southwest of Lanín volcano, it contains the stream with the same name, which after receiving waters from its tributary, San Germán, is called Arroyo Blanco, pouring its contents into lake Huechulafquén.
On the northern bank lies the Raquithue (mandola place) Mapuche community, that goes from the Las Coloradas sector to the Raquithue stream. This community belongs to the Cañicul clan.
On the northern and southern lake shores there are also Cañicul settlements, including other settlers in this area, notably the Paillalafquen, Antín, Figueroa and Barriga families, among others.
On the north shore of Lake Huechulafquen there are numerous free camping grounds that are well signposted, with organized facilities, including barbecues and a thatched eating area where one can have a typical local meal. There are also three hostels that remain open during the fishing season, one of which has a restaurant.
The lake is beautifully framed by the Andean massif, including the imposing Lanín volcano.
56 km from Junín de los Andes lies this port, which is the starting point of the educational interpreted circuit called "The Forest", involving an average walk of 30 minutes through the different species of local flora and their stages of development. In Puerto Canoa there is another (daytime) camping ground.
Several Mapuche communities have settled here.
The José Julián catamaran leaves from the jetty on excursions to Huechulafquen and Epulafquen (two local lakes).
From Puerto Canoa one can go horse riding or trekking to the base of Lanín volcano.
From Puerto Canoa, 3 km further on, along Provincial Route N° 61, you will see the impressive Paimún lake, in the La Unión area, a narrow strip of calm water joining lakes Huechulafquen and Paimún. The latter is a 16 km2 lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks and leafy forests, inhabited by a rich fauna of red deer, foxes, wild boar, hares, otters, etc.
Its shore on the north side is flat, and consists of fine, dark volcanic sands, ideal for sunbathing, while the eastern shore is cliff-lined.
First you have to get to the Aluminé, along Provincial Route Nº 23, going over the Malleo river bridge. From this fork we can reach the Mamuil Malal international mountain pass, and going eastwards come to the Painefilú Mapuche Community. The roadway borders the Malleo river, noted for its good fishing.
The local Mapuches population offer camping facilities, local crafts, fried cakes, home-baked bread and meals of roast kid. You can also practice horse riding and sport fishing, all in a wildly beautiful setting. A good reference point to admire the natural beauty spots is the confluence of the Malleo and Aluminé rivers, ideal for sport fishing, river navigation and chatting with the local Mapuche inhabitants.
Lanín Volcano - Lake Tromen Circuit - International Mamuil Malal Pass - Chile
This circuit extends northwest of Junín de los Andes, after covering 22 km along Route Nº 234 and Provincial Routes Nº 23 and 60, towards the international pass. On the way, there are two access points to Mapuche communities: Atreico and Chiquilihuín; the first at 23 and the second at 40 kilometers approximately from Junín de los Andes. In these communities you can talk to local craftsmen who mostly work with wood and wool. Likewise, on both sides of Provincial Route Nº 60 there are different estancias and tourists can stay at two inns, one on the bank of the Malleo river, and the other on the shore of Tromen lake, both of these, favorite fishing spots.
At a distance of 45 km from Junín de los Andes you can enter Lanín National Park, Tromen area, Río Turbio sector, where there is a leafy protected forest of pehuenes (araucarias araucanas), as well as the other flora and fauna species and Tromen lake, which is highly articulated, presenting 5 arms: northwards the Añihueraqui arm, to the east the Huaca-Mamuil arm, to the south the Malleo arm and to the west two arms pointing in a northwesterly direction.
With fjord-type coasts and volcanic sand beaches, this lake possesses perhaps the choppiest waters of all the Neuquén lakes. Nearby lies the start of the best ascent trail to Lanín. Moreover, through the Tromen pass one can get to the Chilean city of Villarrica. Doing all this can take the traveler more than one day's trip, so it is a good idea to spend the night in Junín or nearby at some lakeside inn.
The lake empties into the Malleo river on the southwest. Its beaches are volcanic sand and rough stone pebbles, and its waters are greenishly transparent with strong wave activity. However, the focal point of the landscape and the place offering the most exciting experiences is undoubtedly the Lanín volcano, according to experienced mountaineers.
When you get to this border center, you can do the following activities:
Lake Curruhue Tourist Circuit
- Camping on authorized areas.
- Trekking (Tromen vantage point; the base of the volcano, the lodges, etc.)
- Ascents to the summit of the volcano (with all the required gear and prior authority from the local park ranger).
- Sport fishing in Tromen lake or Malleo river, or simply admiring the spectacular landscape offered by Lanín volcano. Total trip to Lake Tromen and back: 136 km.
Having traveled 31 km from Junín de los Andes, you get to Curruhue Chico lake, and 5 km further on to Curruhue Grande lake, where you will find a camping ground. The landscape around both the lakes is mountainous, with thick forests of ñire, roble, raulí, lenga and cypress, among other species. Its waters are transparent and greenish in color, with smallish waves caused by west and southwest winds.
You can visit a thousand-year-old forest of araucaria (pehuén), with specimens that are up to 3,000 years old. The total excursion distance, from Junín de los Andes there and back, 90 km.
Continuing the circuit, 55 km from Junín and northwest of Curruhue Grande lake, you get to Verde Lagoon, featuring low shores and extensive volcanic sand beaches; there is a wilderness camping ground here, and you can see a curious rock formation known as El Escorial.
El Escorial: This is a lava formation produced by the Huilquihué volcano, pouring its contents into an ancient glacier valley. The surface of the lava is deeply grooved and shows three notable variants, one called "paving-stone lava", another one showing large areas of loose slag looking very like ploughed fields, and finally a higgledy-piggledy arrangement of enormous lava rocks, called "block-type lava".
El Escorial covers a 5 km2 surface area. Its length is about 7.5 km, with a maximum width of 2.5 km and a minimum of 110 m.
This formation goes to the edge of Lake Epulafquen, that empties, as does Lake Paimún, into Lake Huechulafquen. This magically hidden lake also receives the waters of Lake Carilafquen.
Total distance of the circuit round trip from Junín de los Andes - 110 km.
Epulafquen Thermal Waters
You get to the Lahuen or Epulafquen Thermal Springs by following Provincial Route Nº 62 at 64 km from Junín de los Andes. For those wishing to enjoy a warm dip there are rudimentary installations at the site, and the lodging mode is an organized camping ground. The thermal springs are located in a small transversal glacial valley with humid and muddy soil, that contains the Oconi river, a tributary of lake Carilafquen (the green lake) and the thermal spring stream, that feeds the Oconi, going through an area of mallín in a south-north direction.
Twenty two hydro-thermal vents have been found in an area of about 5 hectares.
The vents produce circular 2-meter-diameter sinkholes (approx). They are grouped in two clusters, on both sides of the Oconi river.
Carirriñe International Pass:
A short way from the springs, and along Route Nº 62, one gets to the Carirriñe (green cane) International Pass, used in summer only. The closest Chilean cities are: Liquiñe, Coñaripe and Lican Ray.
The total distance from Junín de los Andes (round trip) is: 132 km.
* Warm clothing, gloves and boots
* Energy food
* First aid kit
* Torch (flashlight)
* Sleeping bag
EVENTS AND FESTIVE OCCASIONS IN JUNIN DE LOS ANDES
The Week of Aboriginal Crafts, together with the Provincial Stallholder's Festival and the Rural (Farming) Show are the events that attract most interest from visiting tourists.
Here you may see a wide range of crafts in wood, fabrics and woven items, musical instruments and other craft items displayed as though in a trade fair.
Musical shows and local rodeos are also held in the city.
Another popular religious event is the anniversary of the beatification of Laura Vicuña (1891-1904), who is devotedly worshipped by the local population.