San Martín de los Andes

Lakes of glacier origin, perpetual snow, dense canopy forests, spring waters and gleaming wood and stone facades live together in harmony casting spells on every visitor. This is San Martin de los Andes, a fusion of a city and a small Alpine town standing as a true paradise in the so called Northern Patagonia. Here the imposing Lanin volcano (12,400 FASL) and Lanin National Park dominate the scenery of unbeatable views, such as Huechulafquen Lake (second largest lake in the whole Andean corridor) where the shape of the volcano appears on the horizon and is one of the most fascinating views. On another area, Lacar Lake and the coastal town of Quila-Quila also add charm to this region where the blue shades of the lakes and the green tones of nature leave you spellbound at first sight.

Travel to San Martín de los Andes

Excursions to San Martín de los Andes

Quila Quina

We leave behind the beautiful town San Martín de los Andes to go deeper into the Lanín National Park so as to visit one of the most wonderful places of this region: Quila Quina. It is located on the banks of the Lácar Lake and the road is a typical mountain road with fantastic sights. During the visit to this residential village, we arrive at the best beach of the zone next to the pier. In summer, with hot weather, people bathe in the lake. Towards the east there is an interpretation path: The Cipresal, a cypress legendary reserve. We can return navigating through the Lácar Lake and enjoying the landscape (optional)



Hua Hum, The Chachin Waterfall & Navigation along the Lacar & Nonthue Lakes

We embark at the Lácar Lake pier. In the first stretch of our navigation, we can see the high walls of the Abanico Mount until we reach Quila Quina, our first stop. We can enjoy a small trekking along the Cipresal, a cypress zone on the shore of the lake. We also get to the Arroyo Grande Waterfall. We leave Quila Quina towards the west to disembark at our next destination: the Santa Teresita Island. Here we find Arrayanes and the chapel. The maritime route takes us through a narrow water path between both lakes. Once on the Nanthué lake, we reach Hua Hum where there is a lodging house with the same name and the source of the homonymous river which flows into the Pacific Ocean. Once on land we begin a short trekking up to the Chachín Waterfall during an hour with a mild but constant ascent. We cross raulíes, oaks and coihues forests which don´t allow the sun to go through. Even in the undergrowth we can see a cohihe reedbed jungle together with ferns that form a dense vegetation. The Chachín waterfall is an important fall which impresses; it is a geological fault which makes its water fall from 24 meters high generating a stunning roar when hitting the base. This journey allows us to see in detail how the ecosystem where the Patagonic lakes coexist is, in this case in the Lanín National Park. In the afternoon we return sailing towards the beautiful San Martín de los Andes.



Navigating through the Lagos Huechulafquen and Epulafquen & Lanin Volcano

We set off to Junín de los Andes, a town located 40km away from San Martín de los Andes. There, in Junín, we will stroll around to know the church where the Vírgen de las Nieves (Snow Virgin) is situated. We continue towards the Huechulafquen and Paimún Lakes to appreciate a first class sight of the Lanín Volcano. We arrive at the gorge of the Río Chimehuín, this river is the most important one for fly fishing in the whole Patagonia. We walk around a transition area appreciating notros, maitenes and geological figures such as the Piedra la Virgen (Virgin Stone).

We enter the Andean-Patagonic forest going along the edge of the lake, where we observe a sub-antartctic jungle covered of coihues of more than 25m high, together with antique oaks and lengas (kind of Patagonic trees). The undergrowth is made of reeds, ñires, bushes introduced by the man, such as rosa mosqueta, apart from mutisias, amancay (lilies) and reina mora (a kind of berry). We continue towards the Lanín Volcano of over 3,500m, to approach the south base. We continue towards the Paimún Lake, and we will visit its chapel. When returning we will stop at the Río Rucu Leufú to appreciate another sight of the Lanín. Our last destination is the Saltillo Waterfall, having to walk almost half an hour through the Andean Patagonic forest.

Going back, in Puerto Canoa we can optionally take a ship to navigate along the extense lake. Once on board, on the north bank of the Huechulafquen we will go south to see the face of the Lanín Volcano of almost 3,800m high. The lakes with their frozen water can have over 400m depth and are of glacial origin. The Isla de los Chivos stands out of the lake. Towards the west, we arrive at the joint of the Huechulafquen and the Epulafquen rivers. The latter quite shallow and with legendary forests and snow-covered mountains where there is plenty of fauna due to the fact that man hasn´t made incursions nearby. The vessel arrives at the Escorial, a lava river in solid status, because of the eruption of the Achén Ñiyeu Volcano more than 480 years ago. As time went by, the lush vegetation covered this lava soil producing a midget forest or a bonsai forest, which doesn´t reach one meter of height.



Hua Hum next to the Yuco Beaches

We start our excursion towards the frontier post with Chile, when going to the west, the Lácar Lake is constantly beside us. During the journey we can watch the rock structure Piedra Trompul and the Sabana and Colorado Mounts. After quite a while we arrive at Río Hua Hum and we cross it over a wooden bridge. There we walk to the Chachín Waterfall, these small falls are approximately of 30 meters high. During the journey we can see how the landscape goes changing from an Andean Patagonic forest to a Valdivian jungle.  The last place of this itinerary is the Cristo de la Paz, then we return to San Martín de los Andes along the same route. There is a stop at La Peninsula del Yuco which is one of the most interesting beaches of the west bank of the Lácar Lake, with cristaline water and myrtle trees.



Knowing Pucon by Tromen's Pass

We travel to Chile going through Junín de los Andes towards north, we take the road to Aluminé but after crossing the bridge on Malleo River we divert to continue to the frontier of the neighbouring country with final destination: Pucón. The road to the international pass is really nice as it is in an Araucarias forest, similar to the film Jurassic Park, zone which was inhabited by dinosaurs years ago. The imposing presence of the Lanín Volcano with 3,376 meters (over sea level) appears on our left. At the migration post in Tromen we go through the customs procedures to enter Chile. Once in Chilean territory, the forest is denser, because we enter the Valdivian jungle. We continue leaving waterfalls, canyons and rocky zones to arrive at Curarrehue. Near midday we get to Pucón, which receives us with the image of the impressive sight of the Villarrica Volcano of 2,850 meters (over sea level), it is still active, its last eruption was in 1984. The puff of smoke released from its crater and the glaciers forming an ice-cap are characteristic. We walk around the craftmen stalls, the coast of the Villarrica Lake and we will also have time to do some shopping. Pucón is a small Chilean town being the most important beach resort of the Patagonia. Its rustic and traditional architecture gives a special charm to it. It has small constructions with low roofs except for the hotels on the shore of the lake. Before dark, we return to San Martín de los Andes.

Note: the compulsory documentation to cross to Chile is:

  • Passport, ID or Mercosur ID.
  • Family book (marriage and birth certificate) if you travel with children.
  • If children travel with one parent alone. There must exist an authorization validated by a notary.