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El Cóndor

(Altitude: 1 m / 3.25 ft, Population: 428, Phone Code: 02920)

For decades El Cóndor was just a place to get away from the city. People came to fish, walk the beach and visit sea lions and parrots. Up until the late 1990s, El Cóndor was still a popular backpacker camping spot, and a few families from Viedma and Patagones built weekend homes here. In recent years, El Cóndor has become something of a bedroom community. El Cóndor is also called La Boca, as it is on the south shore of the mouth of the Río Negro. The Acantilados, a bluff, begins on the south side of the village and extends for over 200 kilometers (120 mi) south along Bahía San Antonio, to past Las Grutas.

El Cóndor continues to be a backpackers paradise. Every February campers are feted with the Fiesta del Mar y del Acampante, featuring sporting competitions, cultural events and the crowning of the festival queen. Another grand celebration is the Noche de San Juan on June 24. The party begins a few days early, with dances, an artisan market and beach bonfires.

Popular sports in El Cóndor include kite buggying, windsurfing, sandboarding and beach volleyball, but fishing is El Cóndor's traditional sport. El Pescadero, located at the mouth of the Río Negro on the village’s north end, is a prime spot to for catching both river and sea species (end of Ca. 8 bis, 3 km / 1.8 mi from the main road).

On the south edge of downtown, Mirador El Ceferino has a view of the village, river and sea (end of Ca. 60 and 80. Entry: free). There's also a shrine and a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Ceferino Namúncura, the Mapuche saint-to-be. From the viewpoint, there's a path that leads to El Faro, the lighthouse. You can climb this 43-meter (140-ft) high octagonal lighthouse Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., 4:30-7:30 p.m. Entry: $0.60). Erected in 1887, it was the first lighthouse on continental Patagonia, and it holds the further distinction of being the oldest lighthouse in service, still shining its beam 25 kilometers (15 mi) to sea-going ships. Los Pozones, an expanse of rock covered with mussels, lies in front of the lighthouse. At low tide, the pool left behind in the rocks is a favorite swimming hole.

The world’s largest colony of burrowing parakeet can be found at the beginning of the Acantilados, just west of the Primera Bajada del Faro is The spectacularly colorful, squawking birds keep about 3500 nests in the bluffs. There is a descent to the beach, Segunda Bajada, about two kilometers (1.2 mi) along the shore.

Farther south along the coast, Playa Bonita is a white sand beach with good fishing (Ruta Provincial 1, 15 km / 9 mi south of El Cóndor). La Lobería, a sea lion colony, is another 15 kilometers (9 mi) along Ruta Provincial 1. Punta Bermeja, home to one of the largest continental populations of South American sea lion, is three kilometers (1.8 mi) onward (Tuesday-Friday 1-5 p.m., weekends and holidays 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tel: 02920-1530-9065 / 1551-6395. Entry: non-residents $4.25, children 4-10 years old and retirees $2.80). The colectivo bus from Viedma only arrives as far as La Lobería in the summer.


Services in El Cóndor are very limited. Informes Turísticos (open only in summer; the rest of the year, get information at the Informes Turísticos office in Viedma. Ca. 69 and Av. Costanera, Tel: 1562-1170). The hamlet also has a police office (Ca. 69, 175, Tel: 49-7300), first aid station (Ca. 69 and 6, Tel: 49-7198) and pharmacy (Ca. 69 and 12 bis, Tel: 49-7176).


Mercado Artesanal de Río Negro (Ca. 69, between 80 and 12 bis) sells handcrafts from all over the province


El Cóndor has six campgrounds. The following are open all year:

  • Complejo Turístico Los Trentinos (Av. Costanera, Tel: 49-7098) – $2.25 per person per day, plus one-time charge: tent $3.50, car $3.50, motorhome $4.25; 6-person apartment $43
  • Ina Lauquen (Ca. 87 and Ca. 8, Tel: 49-7218) – $2.50 per person per day, tent and car free, $0.50 for motorhome; 4-person cabaña $23, house $34
  • El Viejo y el Mar (Ca. 8, camino al Pescadero, Tel: 1556-2055 / 1547-8136) – $1.70 per person per day, plus one-time $1.70 tent charge; 4-person apartment $10


  • Casino El Faro (Av. Costanera, Tel: 49-7249) – 1 person $29, 2 people $45.50
  • Residencial Río de los Sauces (Ca. 20 bis, Tel: 49-7193) – 2 people $42.50
  • Apart Hotel Costa del Faro (Av. Costanera 1465, Tel: 1541-5534) – 2 people $55


The town has several small markets. More restaurants operate in summer.

  • Costa del Faro (Av. Costanera, Primera Bajada El Faro)
  • Mar y Arena (Ca. 69, 340, Tel: 1551-3857)
  • Achavil (Hotel El Faro, Av. Costanera 628, Tel: 49-7249)


Other places nearby El Cóndor : Las Grutas, Cabo Dos Bahías And Parque Marítimo Costero Patagonia Austral, Dolavon, Sarmiento, Caleta Olivia , Trelew, Río Gallegos, Puerto Santa Cruz, Viedma and Carmen de Patagones and Puerto Madryn.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

17 May 2010

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