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San Martín de los Andes Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your San Martín de los Andes vacation

Buses to San Martín de los Andes and Junin de los Andes 4 stars
To reach San Martín de los Andes, you can take a 2 hour flight (EUR 600 approximately) or take on a 24 bus ride (EUR 75). One of the best bus companies is Via Bariloche (you can buy your ticket online with them)
The bus ride is not bad at all if you get mentally prepared! There are just a few stops and there is usually a bus attendant that serves meals (nothing fancy but fine). Bear in mind that temperatures in the bus can vary greatly, so be prepared with a whole range of clothes. This, at least, has always been my experience on Argentinian buses, no matter how good they are.

The bus will make a stop at Junin de los Andes, which one of the main towns in the area. It isn't as nice as San Martín de los Andes, but it isn’t as expensive or touristy either. So, if you have enough days to spend, it could be a good option to experience the lifestyle of a Patagonian town in Argentina. Tours can also be hired from this point.


Nonthue Camp Site II . Malo Hill 2 stars
When I stayed at the Nonthue camp site I was told there was a nice trek to the base of a hill called Malo (Bad). I was advised not to climb the hill however, since they had just had somebody missing there. Apparently, it was not a risky place but it’s better not to go alone, as this person did,

Coming out on the main road, there is an entrance to the base of the hill. The path is easy to recognize and it is interesting to have a close look at the local flora. I saw many species I had never seen before and there was a whole part of the forest with dried trees (apparently with some disease) that created a quite ghostly view.

After some minutes walking I found a waterfall which made an excellent resting area. I wanted to continue into the woods and up the hill but I thought it convenient to follow the advice I’d been given.


Espejo Chico Camp site 2 stars
A friend of mine had visited this lake and recommended it to me. If travelling on a bus, you will have to walk from the main road through a side road to get to the lake and the camp site. This is a 30 minute walk approximately.

The camp site is pretty nice but it was really crowded when I got there. There is electricity and services are provided. Probably the nicest thing is that you have two different options for swimming. One is to go to the front part of the camping where there is a large stony beach, where the lake water is transparent but dark looking.

The other option is to step into the emerald green waters coming from the river by the side of the camping. You can also wander around the woods area which is nice but not unpolluted.


White water rafting from San Martín de los Andes 4 stars
Although it was summer, I reached the area when rivers had relatively little water. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to miss the chance to go rafting, so I took a tour with one of the local operators.

The tour departed from San Martin de los Andes, with a 2 hour drive that took us to cross the Chilean border in order to get closer to where river Aluminé was born. After a snack we set out for a journey down the river that took almost two hours. The river was grade 3 in some areas and 1 and 2 in others and we passed through some nice rapids for about 40 minutes.

On the parts where the river was calmer, it was nice to just relax and take a look at the changing passing landscape of the Lanin National Park. It was also interesting to notice the changes of color in the water. From emerald green to brown or even blackish.


Nonthue campsite - Lanin National Park 5 stars
This is one of the largest camping places in the Seven Lakes area. The Nonthue lake is a smaller lake connected to the Lacar lake .

I arrived here after a long search, for a quiet place in front of a lake. It was almost the end of high season and there were only a few people. Part of the camp is what is called a "camping agreste" (natural camp site), meaning there is no electricity, toilets or showers. If you want those, you will need to stay closer to the base. You can also get basic supplies and a meal there, but it is more convenient to bring your own if you want a bit of variety.

The camp site is a so large, diverse and beautiful that I felt like moving my tent to a different spot every day. You can camp on secluded spots with a “private” beach, on the lake’s coastline or in the middle of the woods. I was amazed to find out that the lake’s temperature was warm enough for swimming. I even had a bath there! This is a great place if you want to feel you are alone in nature, but with some sense of security.


Scuba Diving in San Martin de los Andes. 4 stars
If you are really into diving and don’t want to miss the opportunity, you can dive in the Lacar lake in San Martin del los Andes.
There is a very small dive operation on the beach and you can arrange your dive right there.
The dive guide took me to a nearby dive spot, that was only some 10 minute away from shore.
The water temperature was a lot nicer than I had imagined. Probably around 21 degrees Celsius (although the divemaster said it was 24…)

The visibility was some 10 to 15 meters, which is not bad at all considering it was a lake.. There was really not so much to see, but it was interesting for somebody who had always dove in the ocean. There were lots of trees, branches and algae which created a creepy atmosphere. The only sea life were some tiny fish and a few snails. All in all it was a nice experience.


San Martín de los Andes town (Ruta de los 7 Lagos-Seven Lakes Route) 4 stars
This is a small mountain town, very well kept and one of the most expensive in the area. It is next to lake Lacar and it is a good starting point to visit towns and tour around the area.
It looks mostly as a residential town, although lots of tourists arrive. If travelling in Summer you will find it especially attractive. There are roses everywhere and you can sit on its small beach at night while having a drink. You will find a bunch of hotels, bungalows to rent, and hostels. Camping is so expensive however, that you will be better off if you stay at a hostel. If you are travelling in December or January, it will be more convenient to get a reservation to stay in San Martin.
No doubt the best way to visit the Seven Lakes area is renting a car. If you don’t however, you can still manage. Although you have to bear in mind that some buses run during a limited period (high season from December to end of February).


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