Caviahue “Snow Town“
This is a mountain village in Patagonia, northwest of the province of Neuquen and 358 km from its capital. The town is located in the Andes at the base of the Copahue Volcano, the only active volcano in Argentina, a few kilometres away from Chile and embedded inside of Caviahue-Copahue Provincial Park, which has an extension of 70000 acres and protects forests of ancient araucarias and one the world’s best natural hot springs.
Winter in Caviahue:
It is the only Snow Town in Southamerica due to its great amount of snow during 6 months. The town started when the Argentinean Army decided to build a shelter for pre-antarctic trainings since they found lots similarities with the climate of Antarctica.
The village lies 1650 metres above the sea level, on the shore of Caviahue Lake and within a forest of ancient araucarias. It has a typical architecture style of town in the Andes, with buildings made with stones and wood. There’s an incredible view of the Copahue volcano in the West; it is 3000 metres high and it’s the only active volcano in Argentina.
Caviahue counts with a modern ski resort located on the mountainside of the volcano and only 2 km from the towm with all the necessary services for the skier such as restaurants, shelters, ski rental, snow garden and ski/snowboard school. It has all sorts of ski trails, both easy and hard, with ski lifts that carry 8000 skiers per hour, which means that there are no long lines to take them, not even during the high season. The goal is clear: to ski all day long.
It is the only ski resort that gives you the possibility to go down the longest ski trail in Southamerica, 8 km long. You get to the crater of the volcano on a snow cat, where you’ll see an acid lake at high temperature, a glaciar and the view of other volcanoes like the Lanin, Domuyo, Antuco, etc. You can then ski down with instructors on trails of different difficulty levels, or on the same snow cat, if you prefer.
You have countless options in Caviahue during the winter. You’ll enjoy this white landscape whether you are an expert skier or someone who just wants to feel different experiences of adventures in the snow.
You can’t leave without visiting the Copahue Village, which is active only during the summer, and it lies at an altitude of 2000 metres. It is 18 km away and you can go on a snow cat. There are full day excursions known as ‘Antarctic Experience’. The village is under 5 metres of snow, so you’ll be walking on the rooftops of the hotels –but the hotsprings are intact, just like in summertime, due to their high temperatures (between 20 and 90ºC). There are different lakes there, like Chancho, Sulfurosa, Verde and De Los Callos, and also drinkable waters like Del Mate, Copahue, Ferruginosa and Limon. You can have a bath there in the hotsprings surrounded by a white landscape. You can also go around the frozen Mellizas lakes, the geothermic site, the viewpoint of the Copahue Volcano, the hotsprings of ‘the Machines’ and Rincon Hueney.
Caviahue is also known as the Capital of Nordic Ski. It is simple and suitable for unexperienced people as well as for experts. This sport allows you to go around outstanding landscapes during the day and also during the night, as there are no frontiers than each person’s limits.
The forests of araucarias amoung basaltic rocks, lakes, rivers and frozen waterfalls are the perfect scenery to enjoy the ultimate adventures of trekking on snow, rides on sleds pulled by siberian huskies, excursions on 4x4 trucks, snow motorcycles and even feeling like an eskimo by having regional meals as dinner inside an igloo.
Caviahue is a world of infinite snow.
Caviahue in summer: ‘Pure Adventure’
Not everything is about snow and cold. Summertime (December/April) means nice weather with warm and sunny days that will let you enjoy splendid green landscapes. It is the perfect combination to go on great adventures and then relax in the hotsprings.
To go to the crater of the active Copahue Volcano is something that you cannot miss. It is a guided excursion where you start the journey on a hard ride on a 4x4 truck, an then you carry on by foot on trails of a medium difficulty level, on permanent ice, ashes, volcanic streams and even a glacier. The effort is worth it. You’ll have a superb view of the Andes, the Lanin, Domuyo, Antuco, Llaima and Lonquimay volcanoes, and an acid lake at high temperature inside the crater.
There are also lots of trails of different kinds suitable for trekking, mountain biking and horseback riding through forests of araucarias, lengas and ñires, along waterfalls on basaltic rocks. We also suggest visiting Salto del Agrio, a 50 metres high waterfall located in Trolope Valley; and also Laguna Escondida (Hidden Lake), the border with Chile and the Maquinitas hotsprings.
Another interesting option is the Hualcupen Valley located almost on the border with Chile, with its lake and the forests. It is considered the most beautiful valley in the area. Different communities of Mapuche aborigenes live here during the summer. There are excursions that combine visits to these Mapuche establishments where they serve grilled or cooked meats with the best homemade cheeses. This gives you the chance to learn about their culture and then go around this area with them.
Caviahue also offers you 1-day excursions (or longer) on 4x4 trucks around different areas like Pehuenia Village and the Domuyo Volcano, combined with rafting on rivers and lakes. Like in many other places in the province of Neuquen, you can also go fishing trout and salmon in the lakes and rivers.
Located at the base of the volcano at 2000 metres and less than 2 km from the border with Chile, it is considered one of the best hotsprings in the world. It contrasts the landscape of Caviahue because it looks similar to the moon. It counts with all kinds of infrastructure such as hotels, hostels, cabins, restaurants and a Wellness Therapy Complex where all kind of thermal baths can be done. All these service work only during the summer (December-May).
Since the beginning of every culture, hotsprings have been used for health treatments in Europe and America. Nowadays, the International Health Organisation recommends the benefits of the hotsprings of Copahue, considered one of the best in the world. Its source is the Copahue Volcano. Its different post volcanic activities add different minerals to the waters and muds, creating this way the different thermal resources of Copahue: Medicinal Waters, Therapeutic Steams, Muds and Algae.
Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon): It’s about 1.2 metres deep, of medium mineralisation of sulfur, calcium and iron, where microscopic algae give it a very particular greenish colour and its temperature ranges between 27ºC and 37ºC. It’s suitable for bathing, following its indicated times.
Laguna del Chancho (Pig’s Lagoon): It’s the most famous one in Copahue. It is formed by sulfured waters and organic muds with a high level of mineralisation. It has a grayish colour with mud in the bottom. The temperature is between 30ºC and 40ºC and its depth is 70cms.
After staying in the lagoon the therapy is completed with a self-application of mud and heliotherapy (therapy under the sun) and then finish with a shower of drinkable water.
Laguna Sulfurosa (Sulfurous Lagoon): It is not suitable for bathing due to its high temperatures between 70ºC and 90ºC. As a consequence of this, it has a permanent flow of sulfured steams that are used for breathing treatments.
Laguna de las Algas (Algae’s Lagoon): This is a lagoon where thermophile algae naturally grow. These algae have different healing properties. The entrance and collection of them is not allowed.
Laguna de los Callos: It is hyperthermal with a temperature of 38ºC and medium mineralisation, used for podology treatments. The access is free.
Agua del Volcan (Water from the Volcano): It comes from the lagoon of the volcano’s crater and has a high mineralisation, being sulfur and calcium its main minerals. It is a powerful antiseptic and tissue regenerator.
Agua del Mate: This is a hyperthermal (67ºC) drinkable water that contains bicarbonate, sodium and calcium, with a low mineralisation. All visitors use it to drink mate tea, a typical argentinean drink.
Agua del Limon (Lemon Water): This is a drinkable, hyperthermal water (24ºC), sour in nature, containing sulfur, silice, calcium and sodium. It is well know for its laxative effects.
Agua Sulfurosa (Sulfurous Water): It’s extracted from Sulfurous Lagoon and it is used as drinkable water for dispesis and intestinal movement in inhalations and thermal baths.
Agua Ferruginosa (Ironed Water): It is hyperthermal, sour, and iron is its predominant mineral. It is used for bathing.
The muds of different shades of gray can be found at Laguna del Chancho, Laguna Sulfurosa and Laguna Verde. The steams in the Complex are used for breathing treatments.