Our Guide to San Martin de los Andes
Nestled in the heart of Argentina's Lake District is the small town of San Martin. With superb winter skiing and some of the most beautiful countryside in Argentina on your doorstep, it's one of South America's real high-class gems...
San Martin is just a short drive north from Bariloche, and it offers the same great mix of winter sports and summer fun, but it's a bit smaller, a bit more isolated, and a whole lot more exclusive: if Bariloche is Chamonix (and it's not a bad comparison) then San Martin would be Courchevel.
This being Argentina, however, even the exclusive can be affordable, and with regular flights from Buenos Aires, some skiing in San Martin can easily be fitted into any of our holidays in Argentina.
Skiing in San Martin
The main ski resort in the area is Chapelco, which is 20km out from San Martin itself. Chapelco actually has its own airport, but there are few scheduled services, particularly outside ski season (June-September) and so most people prefer to fly into San Martin and stay there instead, using the regular taxi and shuttle services to get to Chapelco and back during the day.
Once there, you can enjoy 22 different slopes up to a maximum altitude of just under 2000m. All the facilities are modern and although it is a popular resort, it doesn't get as busy as resorts like Cerro Catedral in Bariloche. There is a ski and snowboard school and all the facilities are great for children, including some very gentle slopes serviced by magic carpets. If you're looking for a family skiing holiday in Argentina, then Chapelco is definitely worth a look.
For older kids there is a freestyle snow-board park and half-pipes to show their stuff, and there are also lots of different winter activities to enjoy if you fancy a break from the slopes, such as snowmobiles and dog-sledding.
Summer Activities in San Martin
The great thing about San Martin is that it's almost even more lovely in Argentina's summer (roughly December-March). At this time of year, the snow has gone from all but the highest peaks, and you can enjoy superb fly fishing in the clear rivers and lakes, and also enjoy some of the best hiking in Argentina.
San Martin sits at the heart of the Lanin National Park and this area of Patagonia is generally recognised as one of the prettiest of all. Trails are clearly marked, and a day hike out into the Siete Lagos (Seven Lakes) area gives you some epic views that will really stay with you forever. The sheer purity of the landscape is breathtaking and it's a truly magical place.
Weather in San Martin de los Andes
Winter in San Martin (June-September) sees heavy snowfalls and low temperatures but from October through to April things are very mild and largely dry, making conditions perfect for trekking and hiking.