San Martin de los Andes Overview
- Peaks, panoramas and perfect lakes
- Country life
- Mountain pursuits, urban pleasures
Roll up, roll up and take the ultimate ringside seat for the wild-eyed wilderness circus that is mountain-bound, lake-hugging San Martin de los Andes…
Trek 1,000-year-old forests, spot local marsupials, ski untouched slopes, catch teeming trout or just enjoy the fine food and laid-back nightlife of the town itself; San Martin de Los Andes commands pole position in the middle of the renowned Seven Lakes area snaking down the Chilean border to bigger, brasher San Carlos de Bariloche. Established a little over 100 years ago on the site of the indigenous Puelches’ winter retreat, San Martin has been transformed of late by creature- and comfort-loving city folk from Buenos Aires, bringing just the right amount of porteño pretension to the thrills and spills of life in the wild.
Suitably San Martin de los Andes
Mate and meat might be the ubiquitous staples of Argentina’s culinary culture, but in San Martin de los Andes, there’s a sweeter, stickier preoccupation. With more chocolate shops per capita here than anywhere outside Switzerland (we’d wager), it’s the cocoa bean that reigns supreme. Undo your trouser buttons and try tortes as towering as the hills or dulces de leche as deep as the lakes at any one of the chic chocolateries sprinkled, icing-dust-like, downtown. Tyrolean-styled Mamusia (San Martin 601; +54 (0)2972 427560) is one of the prettiest.
- Lakeside and downtown San Martin, you won’t really require a taxi. To explore the region, it’s advisable to hire a car or talk to your hotel about tour services. There are several local taxi firms; Radio Taxi Del Oscar (+54 (0)2972 428774) is one of the larger.
- Siesta and fiesta
- San Martin pretty much keeps hours with the rest of Argentina, which means a long break after lunch, lasting until early evening usually, but in some cases until 8pm or 9pm. Sunday is quieter.
- Packing tips
- North Face duck-down for winter; billowing linens for summer heat and one too many dulces de leche; hip-flasks for Argentine courage a la montana any time of year.
- Recommended reads
- Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia remains the classic introduction to the strange, polyglot history of the region; Che Guevera’s Motorcycle Diaries also feature marvellously melancholic passages on the lugubrious Lake District.
- While there isn’t a distinct regional culinary culture, make sure you eat local and organic; wild boar, fresh salmon and trout and traditionally cured meats are particular Patagonian party tricks.
- Argentinian peso (A$).
- Time zone
- GMT -3.
- Dialling codes
- Argentina: +54; San Martin de los Andes (0)2972.
Don't go home without...
…releasing your inner ironman; this is not an indoorsy kind of place. Take your pick: mountain biking, trekking, flyfishing, horse riding, white-water rafting, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding and even twitching are all on offer.