The scene and nature of northern Neuquén treasures attractive views that deserve to be visited, several of them are within Protected Natural Areas, others in the immensity of its roads, and these in the crossing of the mountain range of the Wind and the picturesque localities visited.
The itinerary set forth takes about five days starting in the city of Neuquén (in the case of tourists coming by air) and starting the journey at the locality of “Chos Malal”. Once there, as a starting point, it is possible to tour the old town visiting ancient buildings, museums and houses of the first capital of Neuquén. A walk along the Neuquén River waterfront, and a visit to the “Casa Dewey” Museum are the suggested alternatives. The Museum is an old general store, which still keeps inside valuable objects from the time when the city became the commercial center in all the region, since its foundation in 1887.
The next stop – very close to that place – shall be “Huinganco” where a visit to the tree nursery is recommended, and the tree and wood Museum where petrified trunks, great varieties of wood of the region and some cypress slices of more than 1200 years old are shown. It is possible to go close to “Charra Ruca”, a small place to stop 4 km away from the locality, where you can enjoy the view of waterfalls, slopes and mountains, and at the same time learn about the history of the place and acquire the typical crafts of the area.
Following the suggested circuit you arrive at “Andacollo”, a locality surrounded by valleys, mountains and hills such as “Huaraco” or “Centinela”, ideal to go on walking or cycling tours. To have a view of this beautiful locality you may have access to the viewpoint called “De la Repetidora” of the hill “Cerro La Cruz”. Within the area the ranch Chocoy Mallin stands out, it is a traditional country house surrounded by autochthonous nature where regional flavors and activities are offered such as fishing, horseback riding and bird watching, among others.
Later, the journey continues at “Las Ovejas” to visit the Nahueve river, and the Epulafquen lagoons, a forest tourism reserve of subantarctic forests, where a forest of pellin oak, Patagonian and high Andean steppes stand out. Nearby, a visit to “Manzano Amargo” is worthwhile to know the Waterfall “La Fragua”.
On the way to the locality of Varvarco, we must stop at the Viewpoint “La Puntilla”, strategically located on a crag 1,000 meters high and has six balconies joined by a gangway made of wood. Varvarco provides a privileged panoramic view where you can appreciate the confluence of the Neuquén and Varvarco rivers. There is an extraordinary contrast between the two totally different water courses that join forming a new one. Varvarco is visitors´ obligatory pass if they want to have access to the Provincial Protected Natural Area of “El Domuyo”, created to protect and preserve the magnificent thermal waters of the mountain system and the species of flora and fauna that live there. The “Aguas Calientes” hot springs, at 2000 meters above sea level, of volcanic origin, are characterized by the presence of matured sludge and alkaline waters. The area is also surprising due to the presence of geysers which emit a water and vapor column more than one meter high, with a water temperature that may reach 85-90 degrees Celsius.
On the way to the protected area, “La Matancilla” is located where “Los Bolillos” may be watched. These are extraordinary and whimsical rocky formations eroded by the action of nature, with reddish and yellow touches that contrast with the channel of the Varvaco river, where “Los Monjes” group stands out.
Sheep, cattle and goat breeding is extensively practiced in this area of Neuquén. Within livestock, the breeding of the northern goat of Neuquén stands out and this product has acquired the Denomination of Origin (O.D.). Transhumance is the ancestral breeding method of the goat, which consists of moving cattle to pasture areas during the summer period. At the traditional “Fiesta del Veranador” celebrated in the month of January, a fitting tribute is paid to the breeders who dedicate a large part of their lives to this activity. The herding of the “veranadas” is a current activity that arouses the interest of visitors who participate in this exciting activity and collaborate in the tasks that it implies.
The northern area of Neuquén has three hostels owned by the Province of Neuquén, which have excellent infrastructure and services, positioning them as a very good lodging alternative to complete the experience.
This circuit ends in the city of Neuquén 400 km away from there, which is considered the head since it is the closest city with air connectivity.