San Martín de los Andes
is a tourist destination coveted by those who choose to sleep under the stars during our vacations. Camping and hiking across the forests have been enhanced by Huella Andina
, a project that joins the northern Patagonian Andes.
We visited the Lanín National Park station, where we were given information and maps of the different circuits located close to the city. We were backpacking and carrying the necessary apparel and accessories. We chose a stretch near Lake Lácar, going from Quila Quina to Puesto Casanova.
As we set out, we headed for Quila Quina, an extremely beautiful settlement that lies near the city and features a recreational campsite. It may be accessed either through the lake or through a gravel road. We decided to take the launch at the local pier and reached our destination half an hour later. According to the map, we were supposed to take the street that starts at the berth. We checked this information with a local denizen.
We went up a well-defined trail and gained height little by little. As we reached an eye-catching cascade surrounded by vegetation and featuring an imposing sound on the creek known as Arroyo Grande
, we stopped for a while. Then we bordered the Mapuche
hamlet as the watercourse remained to our right. Trails and dirt shortcuts appeared here and there until we reached a zone where we would start descending. We crossed a brook balancing our weight over a log and then crossed an open clearing up to a vehicle track. We followed it and came to three gates that appeared in the map. We crossed them and took care to close them in order to prevent the animals from escaping. Eventually, and a result of the good signs present on the circuit, we came to Puesto Casanova
As this place is rarely visited, the arrival of foreigners is a reason to change its daily life. We ourselves were thrilled by the warm welcome we received. In the meantime, we observed the campsite and the dome-like cabin available as lodging. We pitched our tent with the idea of spending the night, resting and taking advantage of this intercultural space to get to know its people better. We enjoyed a typical local meal, including tortas fritas, and organized a ride on horseback together to a nearby cascade the following day.
We had to decide whether we would keep walking up to Ruca Ñire following the Huella Andina map. However, we changed our mind as we were told the next stretch demanded an even greater physical effort.
As a part of a more ambitious project known as Senderos Argentina (Argentina Trails), Huella Andina is a way of encouraging tourism amidst nature. The circuits near San Martín de los Andes are pioneers in the country and provide the possibility to open up the range of activities in unspoiled spaces by joining different spots. Shortcuts are added to the already existing routes through sign-posts and appropriate services.
As the night fell, we lit a fire to face the low temperature and prepare supper. No branch moved in the windless night. Silence was complete and the time came to rest and dream of what awaited us the following morning.
Difficulty: Quila Quina-Puesto Casanova stage: 10.3 kilometers; duration: 3 hours and 50 minutes. Difficulty: low.
Puesto Casanova-Ruca Ñire stage: 15.7 kilometers; duration: 7 hours. Difficulty: intermediate.
Opening hours: Season:
November thru April every year
Bear in mind: For your own safety, it is advised to go out in groups.
Choose a circuit that suits the abilities of all members of the group.
Pack a spare pair of footwear to cross creeks.
At the start: recreational camping site
At the end: primitive camping site