SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
When one goes to Blanca Lagoon on one's way to Zapala along the Rahue, one goes along the lonely and wild high plains of the Patagonian steppe. This is the prelude and appetizer to one of the most spectacular views the Cordillera offers its visitors.
You should stop at the Rahue to enjoy the panorama.
This view is only a few kilometers from Aluminé, a mini-paradise frozen in time, with all the native traditions and ancestral reminiscences that seem to dip into the Rahue's past to give it a new lease of life.
The venerable thousand-year-old araucarias on the way cluster together in Aluminé to offer the priceless framework of their hoary trunks.
The mountain and lake setting offers its steeply sloping streets and taciturn inhabitants that, with quiet hospitality give you all the necessary to enjoy the bounties of this place.
Located on the western bank of the Aluminé river, this village is the head of the Department bearing the same name, and is inserted in a high mountain area very close to the northern section of Lanín National Park, at about 800 meters above sea level.
This is the service center of the area and the doorway to the Patagonian Lake Belt. Aluminé is a tourist center next to Lanín National Park, and its particular beauty is set off by the leafy pehuen forests in a pristine area of lakes, rivers, streams, ñire and roble pellín forests, colihue canes, etc.
Aluminé river and lake are ideal places for fishing and nautical sports like canoeing, kayaking and rafting. You can choose from two circuits to practice the latter: that of Abra Ancha and that of Aluminé Superior at different difficulty levels.
Christened in the Mapuche language as shining well (Alum and Miné), it is a white river area, offering unforgettable experiences to the rafter. As from1991 Aluminé river has been the site of the Argentine Kayaking Championship, classified as one of Neuquén's prime sports events. This river has been chosen for its specially powerful torrent. This is the kayakers' chosen place to test themselves to the limit against the water's might.
This small mountain village on the shores of Lake Aluminé, and next to the Andes Cordillera is also worth a visit, offering a peaceful environment with beauty, comfort and a family atmosphere. It is surrounded by cypresses growing among the rocks and ancient araucarias.
Every year in March, coinciding with the piñón (pine seed) harvest, the Provincial Festival of the Pehuén is celebrated here, in honor of the araucaria or pehuén. Activities consist of exhibition of regional crafts and criollo horsemanship.
Despite its small size and simplicity, this village is the center of the so-called Pehuenia Circuit, that takes its name from the great concentration of these trees -pehuén or araucaria araucana-. This city is the starting point of the circuit that includes a visit to the Aluminé, Moquehue, Pulmari, Ñorquinco, Ruca Choroi, Quillén and Hui Hui lakes. This area is worth exploring carefully to enjoy the picturesque landscapes, do a spot of fishing and camp in one of the area campsites. In the basin of the Aluminé we may see the beginning of what has been termed "apple country". The Jesuits are credited with having introduced the now abundant wild apple trees in the 17th century.
Here lies the largest Mapuche reservation in the area. Most of the tribes are concentrated here, with a population of between 30 and 3.500 Mapuches on fiscal land.
On the shores of this lake there is a campsite, and one can also enjoy a waterfall. It is surrounded by thick forests that are pleasant to walk in.
When you return from this excursion, you will have had a uniquely interesting experience that will leave you with nostalgic feelings whenever you hear the plaintive chords of a guitar on some late evening.