This autumn, don't miss Neuquén, land of apples, wine, and adventure
When tourists visit Argentina, they dream about Buenos Aires, San Telmo, Malbec and the beautiful wineries of Mendoza, the Spanish colonial architecture of Córdoba or the snowy mountains in Tierra del Fuego; but in a country that has 2,780,400 square kilometers, it’s safe to say that many paths take you to hidden touristic treasures.
One of those must- see places is the unassertive city of Neuquén in Patagonia. Argentines flock to the city in search of a quieter and less touristy place in Patagonia than the resort town of Bariloche. Neuquén’s charm is undisputable- wide boulevards, excellent museums, exquisite wines produced locally and rich paleontological sights. But the “gateway to Patagonia” is more than just a simple pit stop so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that more tourists chose the route of wine, apples and dinosaurs.
If you dreamed about a Jurassic Park kind of place in the real world, Neuquén is the town for you. Dinosaur hunters come to the Patagonian city to see the home of the biggest dinosaur fossils ever found. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many tours to the excavation sites and you’ll need to improvise if you want to get to these sights. However, if museums and exhibits will satisfy your curiosity, in the Ernesto Bachmann Museum you’ll find the biggest fossil of a dinosaur ever found- the Gigantosaurus.
For the adrenaline junkies, Neuquén offers a variety of activities starting with mountain biking routes and ending with climbing trails. Most of the proposed paths are among forests and mountains, taking tourists through places known for their scenic beauty. Being close to three rivers (Neuquén, Limay and Negro), the Patagonian city is also the place for kayaking and rafting.
Lovers of indigenous arts and craftsmanship will enjoy a visit to one of the many mapuche communities, where foreigners can interact with mapuche craftsmen and find out about their weaving techniques, wood carving procedures and cooking methods. While weaving is generally an assignment executed by women, wood carving is done by their male counterparts. It is important to note that all products are hand-made without employing novel manufacturing processes or machines.
Wine lovers will enjoy the District of San Patricio del Chañar, where they can join vineyard tours, learn about winemaking and enjoy some of the best wines from South Argentina. On the other hand, on the roads of Alto Valle, tourists can visit eco farms and agricultural colonies where whole families live and work. Some of the apple, grapes, pears and lemons farms found in Neuquén export to the U.S. and European markets.
Surprisingly enough even art lovers will find their piece of heaven in Neuquén. The Fine Arts National Museum (MNBA) showcased exhibitions of both European and Argentine artists. In the past, it even rolled out a widely acclaimed Pablo Picasso exhibit.
With such diverse offering, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the city is gaining international exposure, becoming something more than a pit stop or an oil and gas region with zero touristic potential.
Latin American Post | Adina Achim
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto