San Martin de los Andes

San Martin de los Andes

Up Guides Maurienne Tours

Where is San Martín de los Andes?

The town of San Martin de los Andes is situated at the east end of Lago Lacar in the Lakes District of Patagonia Argentina. San Martin is in the southwest corner of the Neuquén Province, and only 45km (28 miles) from the Hua-Hum international pass that heads over into Chile.

Driving distances and times for San Martin de los Andes:
  • 1,565km (973 miles) southwest of Buenos Aires
  • 108km (67 miles) north of Villa la Angostura via RN 234 (Los 7 Lagos Road – see below) – 1.5 to 3 hours depending on road conditions
  • 262km (163 miles) north of Bariloche via RN40 – 3:15 hours
  • 192km (119 miles) north of Bariloche via RN 234 (7 Lakes Road) – 2:20 hours to 4 hours

Flights to San Martin de los Andes

San Martin is serviced by the Aviador Carlos Campos Airport (CPC aka Chapelco Airport) which is 22 km (14 mi) away from town. Aerolineas Argentinas flies there from the Jorge Newberry Airport in Buenos Aires. You can search for flights here. The only limitation of the airport is that during winter it sometimes closes in inclement weather.

A taxi into town is reasonably inexpensive or there are rental car outlets at the airport. You can book your car rental here.

Flying to Bariloche

The other option is to fly into Bariloche. See our Bariloche travel page for more information or use one of our flight search engines to look for flights to Bariloche.

There are various car rental outlets at the Bariloche airport. Renting a car in Bariloche is reasonably inexpensive due to the degree of competition. It is not essential to have a car once in San Martin, but having a car provides plenty of flexibility to get around town and to the ski resort.

There are two major ways to drive from Bariloche to San Martin de los Andes. Both routes are picturesque, but the 192km (199 miles) drive via RN234 is particularly scenic (see below). The alternate route via RN40 is required if the Seven Lakes Road is closed after excessive snow.

Alternatively you can get a private transfer from the Bariloche airport to your accommodation in San Martin.

Bus to San Martin de los Andes

Buses are a very cheap alternative to get from the Bariloche airport to San Martin de los Andes. The number 72 bus goes from the Bariloche airport terminal to the Bariloche bus terminal about 8 times a day. Bus companies such as Via Bariloche, Ko-ko and Albus then provide services onto San Martin de los Andes.

The San Martin de los Andes bus terminal is next to Lake Lacar, about 5 blocks from the centre of town. The terminal houses a multitude of companies that travel around Argentina and across to Chile.

Bus transport is also available between the Retiro bus terminal in Buenos Aires and San Martin de los Andes. The trip takes about 20 to 25 hours. Buses commonly leave Buenos Aires from 4pm to 8pm and arrive in San Martin the next day between noon and 5pm. Classes vary from semi-cama to fully reclined first class seats with a full meal service.

Getting between San Martin de los Andes and Cerro Chapelco

The drive between San Martín and Chapelco ski resort takes about 20 minutes. The access road is off Ruta 234 (the Siete Lagos Ruta to Villa la Angostura), 15km south of town. The access road (RN19) is not paved but it's an easy drive, even for a 2WD, because it's not steep and reasonably wide. Thankfully there are no nasty drop offs into a ravine like you see at some of the Chile ski resorts!

Except on super snowy days, snow chains are not required, which is just as well because there are no chain hire outlets in San Martin de los Andes. Some car rental companies may be able to provide you with chains when you hire the car.

If you don't have a car (or snow chains on a snowy day), there are lots of shuttle options that your accommodation can book for you, or taxis are also readily available.

Los 7 Lagos - 7 Lakes Route

The Ruta de los Siete Lagos (7 Lakes Road) runs south from San Martin de los Andes (RN234) down to Villa la Angostura on RN231. As the name suggests, the road travels past seven main lakes that look spectacular amidst snow capped mountains and forests. Running through both the Lanin and Nahuel Huapi National Parks, this route is a very well trodden tourist path.

Whilst there are lots of deviations off the main path, the direct route is 108km in length and it can take as little as 1.5 hours to travel. Multiple photo stops will increase the travel time significantly, as will snow or ice on the road. The middle section of the route is unpaved for 40km, and it may be muddy, dusty, and/or corrugated. Hopefully the views will distract you from the potential bumpiness of the ride!

During winter after a snowfall or when it's icy, this unpaved section of the road can be closed to 2WD vehicles or vehicles without chains. The alternative route around to Bariloche and Villa la Angostura is via Junin de los Andes and Ruta 40.

If you don't have a car there are lots of tour operators in Villa la Angostura and San Martin that conduct tours of Los 7 Lagos. Alternatively there are plenty of remise drivers that will take you on a tour.

Getting Around San Martin

Most of the San Martin de los Andes hotels and accommodations are in the centre of town. The town is small enough to navigate on foot, and the centro area has a high concentration of restaurants, bars and shops.