Altitude: 806 meters/2,644 feet, Population: 11,361, Telephone Code: 02948
Located along route 40, Chos Malal is a convenient overnight stay for visitors traveling through Patagonia. Originally the first capitol of Neuquen province, Chos Malal is no longer growing economically as it once was. Livestock breeding and fishing are the prominent industries in town, and the town has a significant Mapuche Indian population. There few activities within the town's vicinity, so Chos Malal offers visitors beautiful scenery more than anything else. The town is situated next to the beautiful Neuquen and Curi Leuvu rivers, making fishing and hiking two of the most popular activities in the area. The nearby ski resort, Cerro Wayle, provides for winter entertainment opportunities, and sky gliding has become popular in recent years as well.
Several historical buildings may peak visitors' interest as well. Neuquen's first government building that has housed provincial and city governments, a school, and a post office, dates back to 1887 and can be found in the center of downtown near Plaza San Martin. Near that you can find the church Parroquia Maria auxiliadora, which was built from regional woods right after Chos Malal was founded. An old fort building is occupied by the town's only museum, which visitors can see between Tuesday and Sunday. In the same area, the Manuel Jose Olascoaga museum (tel 02948 42 1425) includes historical artifacts from Maupuche tribes including pottery, clothing, weapons, and tools, as well as fossils, photographs, and information and objects related to the early inhabitants who settled Chos Malal in the challenging desert environment. Nearby, a tower remaining from the old fort gives visitors a panoramic view of Chos Malal and the town's surroundings.
Chos Malal is well-known for it's roasted goat (Chivito), and the local scenery is often dotted by gauchos herding large packs of goats. Local restaurants serve other regional specialties such as fresh trout caught from the two rivers that run through town. With only a handful of lodging options available, tourists will not find any luxury accommodations in Chos Malal. For the cheapest lodging in town visit the municipal camp sites, which are completely free of charge, but be prepared to share your campsite with several stray dogs. The nicest rooms in town can be found at hotel Don Costa, a cute wooden building with a Southern Patagonian style. At about $20 a night for a double, Don Costa costs a little more than other local options, but it is a noticeable improvement from other accommodations. Conveniently, the hotel houses one of the town's best restaurants, where customers can enjoy typical Argentine steak dishes and hamburgers topped with egg and hearts of palm. Chos Malal has long been left out of guidebooks so you may be the only tourist there. Locals are often surprised by tourists who stopover in their town, and the friendly residents may even invite tourists over for dinner.