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Potrerillos

Situated in the Andean foothills, at 1,470 meters (4,822 ft), Potrerillos offers a combination of relaxing lakeside activities and thrilling adventure amid a sprawl of rental cabins and campgrounds that attract locals and tourists throughout the hot summer months (December-February).

Despite starting as little more than a pair of farms, Potrerillos has grown throughout its entire history. Agricultural facilities were built when the Trans-Andino Railway operated between Mendoza and Chile. After that was abandoned in 1984, the town took advantage of the reservoir formed by the Embalse de Potrerillos dam to establish itself as a weekend tourist destination. Rental cabins, travel agencies and restaurants were built, and tourists started arriving by the thousands. A 2001 census revealed no permanent residents; however, a few hundred now call the valley home year-round, while many Mendocinos maintain private holiday homes in the valley.

Potrerillos is a base camp for whitewater rafting on the Río Mendoza, known for non-stop class III-IV4 waters. Both Rafting Argentina Rafting (Ruta Perilago s/n, www.argentinarafting.com) and Rios Andinos (Ruta 7 s/n, www.riosandinos.com) offer guided river trips among scores of other activities, including horseback riding, trekking, mountain biking and rock climbing. A relaxing afternoon can be spent along the lengthy multi-purpose trail that traces the lakeshore. The path guides visitors to a number of great fishing holes, picnic areas and viewpoints. Motorized navigation is prohibited on the lake, so the buzz of two-stroke engines will be restricted to motorcycles and ATV’s, which can be rented at Cuatriciclos Potrerillos (Av. Los Condores s/n, www.cuatrispotrerillos.com.ar).

Ser_0 Outdoors (Av. Los Condores s/n) operates as both a travel agency and bed & breakfast. Packaged weekends include transportation to and from Mendoza and two- or three-night stays with a selection of activities, including rappelling, trekking, rafting, and kayaking. For visitors who prefer more flexibility, colorful cabins at La Flor del Pago (Av. Los Condores s/n, www.cabaniasflordelpago.com.ar) or camping at Las Chacritas (Ruta Prov. 89 km 5, www.laschacritascamping.com.ar) are among the better options.

The lack of a supermarket is evident, but a handful of almacenes and proveedurias provide the required staples for cooking. If not, Comedor Los Condores and La Posta Resto offer typical Mendocino menus of milanesas, asados and pizzas. Shopping is non-existent except for the small Soledad Regionales artisan market that sells souvenir and gift items.

While much of Potrerillos is build along Ruta Nac. 7, which eventually ends at the Chileno border, Ruta Prov. 82 takes visitors south to three nearby communities. El Salto is little more than an extension of Potrerillos, but the Cerveza Jerome brewery is found there. Las Vegas is a smaller and undeveloped residential area, but tourists head to Vallecitos year-round to ski and mountain bike. The small ski area suffers from the occasional snowless year, but usually manages to open during July and August. In the summer, downhill mountain biking is popular and the chairlift opens occasionally for organized races.

The spread-out nature of both Potrerillos and its neighboring townships make navigation difficult. There is no local transportation and no street numbers. Visitors unfamiliar with the area are often forced to simply walk along the two main streets in search of their destination. Rental bikes are abundant and make transportation quicker and easier. El Salto, Las Vegas, and Vallecitos are situated at much higher elevations than Potrerillos, so expect some long climbs if traveling by bike or foot. Fortunately, traffic is light and the streets are shaded to fend off the intense sun.

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Other places nearby Potrerillos: Uspallata, Las Cuevas, Los Penitentes, Puente Del Inca and Cacheuta.







01 Jul 2010

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