" SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES - NORTHERN PATAGONIA " Top 5 Page for this destination San Martín de los Andes by Frisbeeace

San Martín de los Andes Travel Guide: 42 reviews and 149 photos

Hidden Unspoiled Paradise

San Martin de los Andes is located on the shores of Lake Lacar, inside the Lanin National Park, in the Province of Neuquen, Argentina, 25 miles away from the Chilean border. It has a population of 20,000 and due to its mild weather, the place was originally a Mapuche settlement located among hills and protected from severe snowfalls and winds. The area is known by the peace and quietness provided by the large extension of green land and the 400.000 hectares of the Lanin National Park.

San Martin has a complete infrastructure for lodging and eating, with a wide variety of prices that meet the expectations of both sophisticated and low-budget travelers. Hotels, appart-hotels and inns are located downtown while cottages are usually located in the outskirts, surrounded by the magnificent natural environment. There are many small and charming restaurants, specialized in the cooking of trout, venison, wild pig and fondue, where these and other regional dishes can be tasted. Also, there are many tea houses where all sort of cakes and pastry are served accompanied by regional fruit marmalades. Local crafts and delicious homemade chocolates are other attractions for which this mountain paradise is well known.

The main attractions of this area are based on spectacular landscapes and the variety of activities available all year round. Outdoor enthusiasts will find the best settings and conditions to enjoy winter sports, climbing, moutain biking, rafting, trekking, climbing and adventure travel amidst the magnificent natural environment of mountains, streams, lakes and native forest. Hunting, fishing and camping are regulated by the Lanin National Park.
During the summertime, many isolated rivers and lakes are the paradise to the most demanding fishermen that came down from all over the world to practice this sport in all its forms: spinning, trolling and fly casting. The quality of trouts, both brown and rainbow species is remarkable. You can also enjoy both the mountains and the beach as the sun warms the lake with its incredibly transparent water making it perfect for many water sports.
In Winter, Chapelco ski resort, located 9 miles away from town, with its modern lifts and its great variety of runs, fulfills the expectations of avid skiers. The trails allows to slide down the mountains among aged "lengas" trees surrounded by the beautiful landscape of Lake Lacar and the massive Cordillera de los Andes. (Check my ?Skiing in Argentina? travelogue)

Several Mapuche Indian reservations and ranches allow tourists to spend a day in the countryside and to learn about the cultural legacy of the Indians that lived in the region - their language, customs, handcrafts and religion - an experience of a lifetime.


In 1898, General Rudecindo Roca, arrived to the valley of lake L?car and founded the village of San Mart?n de los Andes, after an agreement made with the local aborigines that used to spend the cold winter there and were leaded by Cacique Curruhuinca.

In those years, communications and commerce were easier with Chile navigating across the lakes rather than horseriding for long journey to other cities in Argentina.

With the creation of the Lanin National Park in 1937 the life of this village changed substantially thanks to new roads and the increase of tourism in the area. This trend has been dramatically strengthened during the last decade which turned SMA into one of the fastest growing towns in the country.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Best Outdoor city in Argentina
  • Cons:Too quiet....
  • Last visit to San Martín de los Andes: Apr 2004
  • Intro Updated May 15, 2004
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