San Martín de los Andes is the perfect place to enjoy the small town culture of Patagonia in Argentina. It’s a gem tucked away in the Andes, surrounded by green hills and a beautiful meandering lake. We immediately fell in love with it!
We rode in on a bus from Bariloche and spent the whole time looking out the windows at the beautiful scenery. The forest and lakes along the road were amazing! We were really wishing we had our camping gear because it was a campers’ paradise!
San Martín de los Andes, the Patagonian Dream
Everyone on the bus had a huge backpack with a shiny foam sleeping pad strapped on – the sure sign of a Patagonian trekker in Argentina. They were getting on and off the bus all along the way, campsite hopping. Sounds fun, right? There are buses that stop at the campsites so the hikers were working their way to Bariloche or San Martín by bus, one campsite a day. It makes it super easy to get around! Some people were biking the whole way and others were doing the ole’ hitchhiking.
It is a perfect place to spend a month camping! We were jealous because we didn’t have a tent or sleeping bag with us! I couldn’t convince my wife to sleep on a tarp…
We arrived at the main bus terminal in San Martín de los Andes, and felt like we were in Yosemite National Park in California. The trees covered the roads and there were parks all over the town. It is pretty small, so many hostels, grocery stores, and camping stores are within walking distance of the center.
San Martín de los Andes – Activities
We went for a hike on the north side of the lake and saw some amazing picturesque views. The forest was beautiful and the weather was perfect. We hiked a few miles, and wished we had brought a lunch so we could go further. We only saw a few other people on the trails, and everyone was really laid-back and friendly. On our way back there was a group of kids in summer school learning how to rock-climb. Early training for climbing the nearby mountains!
People flock to this little town during the summer to go trekking, camping, rock climbing, rafting, and of course take a boat ride on the lake. A few even venture into the chilly water for a swim! The nearby Lanín National Park is one of the most spectacular parks in Patagonia. We didn’t get a chance to check it out – maybe next time!
In the winter, the crowds flock to the nearby mountains for world-class skiing and snowboarding. There are a few ski slopes close-by, and the most popular is Cerro Chapelco.
Our friends showed us a few neat places on the outskirts of town. One was a mirador on a nearby hillside where we could look out over the lake and the town. It really gave us the feeling of being snugly tucked into the valley. On a clear day and at sunset the view would be amazing!
We were driving by the house of a lady they knew and she invited us in for a round of mate, the Argentine version of tea. It was fun to experience the culture of Argentina with the locals!
We got to stop by a geocache along the way too. Great find and more great views!
They even showed us how to take a bull for a walk with a chain, haha!
San Martín de los Andes was a little out of the way from the main route but we were glad we made the last minute addition to our plans to see our friends there. There is nothing better than exploring with the locals. San Martín de los Andes is the perfect place to hang out with the locals and explore Patagonia!