|Latitude / Longitude|
Chapelco is the most important ski resort of the patagonian State of Neuquen, located 200 km from Bariloche, near the chilean west border.
When somebody talks about Ski Mountains at South America, the first name that comes to people´s mind is Bariloche. No doubt: Cerro Catedral is the biggest ski center of the south cone. However, Argentina offers 9 winter ski resorts with good tracks.
One of the most charmant and fun is, for sure, Chapelco. Even if not so famous like Bariloche, can please visitors very much.
Chapelco is good for advanced skiers and also for begginers; for those who wants more security or for those who wants to take some risk in radical descents; for those who whishes to have a good time with a girlfriend or for those who wants to put some adrenaline in the veins on wild tracks with a lot of visibility.
With modern ski lifts – one should say it means modern in relationship with other South American average lifts, but, for sure, old fashioned in comparison with the european standards – and with a quality of snow considered good – of course it just happens when the unexpectedness of the unnatural imbalance imposed to the environment by the solar heating are not pronounced with too much vehemence – the several tracks of Chapelco attracts mainly the argentinians themselves and brazilians. But also many anglo-saxons and italians are seem there.
Chapelco is a shelter in the middle of the turbulences of Andes. Excelent option to the neighboring Pucon, usually surrounded by chaos, or even Bariloche, that has been experimenting many climatic instability on those recent past years.
Besides the ski activities and the californian snowboard other winter amusements like tours in snowmobiles, sleighs pulled by siberian dogs and walks at the Lengas forests (typical trees of the andean mountains) exist. All these practicals count on well trained patrols that cover all the places, given an ilusory sensation of security, therefore, to get hurted in some way on those winter sports is almost mandatory.
It´s possible to climb with the ski lifts to the culminating points of Cerro Chapelco, that reaches 1980m of height, but the lifts are not running all the time. For that window occurs, it´s necessary that the Mountain Range calms itself for a while and that the climatic condition are opportunely favorable, but, when this happens, the landscapes are pure beauty. It is possible to see the Lacar Lake and, far away, the imposing Lanin Volcano, of 3.747 m, that appears distantly with its pyramidal form, in the Andes, larded by lesser mountains.
There are days when it is possible to see even the friend of Lanin, the insatiable Villarica Volcano, on the other side of the invisible frontier with Chile. But these are those days very special where the Nature breathes alliviated, and we breathe together, once nature emits us a clear signal that not everything is lost in the horizon… therefore, although we have attemped to, we were not capable to finish with everything, yet…
Really: to see Lanin volcano, and behind the famous Villarica volcano, surrounded by the region of the Lakes, and the giant of the Andes embracing everything, and later to go radically down the mountain, these are the days that we can say: today, I had a luck day!
Our beloved Chapelco counts on the hospitality of the elegant San Martin de Los Andes, noble city, that possesss excellent infrastructure and that pleases everybody with its rich gastronomy and a brilliant nocturnal life. What can pleases us the most in San Martin is the ability of walking freely on the city, at any time or at dawn, and not to suffer the typical pressure from the urban dangers. Moreover, the tourists usually are well received, by the few more than 3,000 inhabitants of the place, in a pleasant and calm climate. The tourism is today the main economic focus of San Martin, which turns the city naturally and conveniently an hospitable one. The city counts with domestic airport, many hotels and huts for rental. In the summer, attentions are directed to the Lakes, to the forests of lengas and to the Mountains, that gain other soft colors and lighter temperatures.
The National Park of Lanin, established in 1937, shelters on this region beautiful landscapes, long ago residence of some aboriginal etnias that had fought the Spaniard and is nowadays residence of many animals as wild condores, wild boars, harts and cougars.
Chapelco, San Martin, Lanin volcano and Lacar lake form a quadruple of personages who leave in the visitor a sensation of wanting more, to feel homesicknesses even before leaving.
The origin of the Chapelco name: when spring is initiated, it starts to occur the thawing in the snowy mountains. Small flows of water is formed and starts to go down through Andes, digging its hillsides. Innumerable arms of water flow and intercross themselves forming greater currents, that finish discharging in the rivers that cross the valleys. These rapids are seemed to braids of water that cave down the snow layer below. In aboriginal language this means chape=braid and co=water.
Photos, video and text by Marcelo Ozorio