SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
San Martín de los Andes is the most important tourism center in Neuquén province. On the shores of Lake Lácar, the city is located in a natural basin, protecting it from the wind.
Its geographical location is of singular beauty, almost hidden in a sumptuous amphitheater in the mountains that preserves the fertility of its lake and forest environment.
San Martín de los Andes is within a natural habitat that is characteristic of the humid Patagonian Andes, consisting of mountains blanketed with dense forests of colihue, pires, oaks and cypresses, crystalline streams and great biodiversity, constituting a high quality environment for its inhabitants that lead a privileged life, surrounded by forests.
In addition to the environmental beauty and peace and quiet of its great stretches of greenery and the Lanín National Park, the largest in the province of Neuquén (383,612 has), San Martín de los Andes is the "jewel" of the "Corredor de los Siete Lagos" (Seven Lakes Belt).
Thanks to their natural beauty, the famous "belt" and the Lanín National Park are the main attractions in this region. This makes a visit to this city that offers the enchantment of snow in winter and adventure tourism in summer, together with an imposing contact with nature, a "must".
It is a picturesque, alpine-like city with wooden buildings and wide paved streets with a neat layout. It was founded on February 4, 1898, on the shores of Lake Lácar. Currently it houses a community of 23,354 inhabitants (according to the 2001 provisional census). It is possible that the "impossible" beauty of its scenery has been the determining factor of its explosive urban growth as well as of the growth of its tourism activity over the last decade.
A lake area par excellence, where the blue hue of its lakes makes a striking contrast with the dark green of its forests, its main attractions are defined by the beauty of its captivating landscape. Lakes, rivers and hills, plus a unique fauna and flora and the whole of the forest combine with the peace and quietude of this natural environment, enhanced of course by the proverbial warmth and quality of its guest services.
As the most important location close to Lanín National Park , it possesses an excellent tourism infrastructure, making it the starting point for excursions throughout the area. Honoring its reputation as a "family tourism center", the city places many options at the disposal of its visitors including entertainment and tours of its natural wonders.
The town offers several different lodging options for tourists. With a total offer of more than 4,000 beds, mainly distributed among 3 to 5-star hotels, it has hostelries and cabins also, all offering excellent food and night entertainment. Cozy restaurants specializing in venison, trout, fondue and international cuisine, as well as picturesque tea houses and Viennese pastry houses form part of its gastronomic offer.
The whole area has a highly diversified attractiveness. Almost all the options of adventure tourism, such as rafting, hang-gliding, trekking, volcano climbing, etc, are found in this area.
In summer, activities are mainly of contact with nature, within Lanín National Park, which offers many different possibilities: salmonid sport fishing, trekking, rafting, mountaineering, photo safaris, 4 wheel-drive excursions, etc. The summer season extends to the month of April.
Visitors can enjoy fishing the whole year round, with the additional possibility of catching a wide variety of trout in the rivers and lakes of the area. The great number of waterways and bodies of water enable sport fishing in all of its modes (fly casting, trolling and spinning). Some rivers, such as the Caleufu, Hermoso, Collón Curá, Malleo, Chimehuín, Aluminé or Quilquihue are the most popular.
During wither the city becomes snow-covered. This makes it an ideal environment to practice skiing at the nearby winter sports center of Chapelco. In June, tourism movement starts anew, as the tourists and skiers flock into the Cerro Chapelco ski resort.
Besides, one can enjoy activities such as lake excursions for nautical sports enthusiasts, and those fond of sailing, kayaking, windsurf and water skiing.
Inserted in the midst of the Andes Cordillera, in the southwest of Neuquén province, on the eastern shore of Lake Lácar and in the fertile Vega Maipú valley, San Martín de los Andes lies at 640 meters above sea level, 1.575 km away from Buenos Aires and only 45 km from the Chilean border.