In Patagonia’s northwest region, you’ll find forests, lakes, volcanoes, and best of all, the endearing town of San Martín de los Andes, Argentina. Sitting along the glacial shores of Lake Lácar and surrounded by rugged beauty, San Martín was the one place my husband and I seriously considered moving to while on our round-the-world trip.
Filling up at a gas station one day, we were approached by a man in his 50s. After chatting for a few minutes, he invited us to stay at his house. We spent the next few days there together with his wife, eating thick slabs of medium-rare beef and drinking from gourds filled with smoky yerba matte. I fell in love with San Martín and its people in that short time.
The couple took us on hikes by the lake and ice cream quests into town. San Martín is an outdoor person’s dream, with gear shops for climbing, paddle boarding, and snow sports. With a population of just 31,000, it has that great small-town vibe, but its surrounding presence is huge. You can check out Lanin National Park, tour Lanin Volcano, or just choose your own adventure—there will be no shortage of that getting to and from San Martín de los Andes along the infamous Ruta Nacional 40.
The best time of year to visit this picturesque spot depends on what you want to experience while there. For snowy excursions, you may prefer going during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter—May to September, but note that June tends to be very wet. You may also want to check the winds as it can get pretty gusty in Patagonia. The warmest months in the region are December and January, but even then, temps won’t reach much past the low 70s (low 20s Celsius) and nights can be very chilly.
As we were just passing through at the time, I can’t recommend specific things to do, other than simply admiring all the town has to offer and making sure there’s a road trip in your plans. I just hope this destination is next on your overland list if heading to South America.
I would go back to San Martín de los Andes without question, and I really wanted to stay longer to capture even more of its heart.
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