Things to do

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Cañon del Atuel

The Cañon del Atuel is a beautiful natural phenomenon and is not too far from the city, although you will definitely need to either rent a car to see it or join one of the numerous tourist buses that drive through the area every day. The Cañon was carved by the river Atuel, which begins in the town of El Nihiul and ends in Valle Grande, a huge, manmade lake that is the site of numerous water sports, from rafting to boating to jet skiing. Along the river’s course through the valley, a series of three damns channel the water through large pipes, creating hydroelectric power. This causes the river to often be quite low in the valley, giving tourists a view of the canyon floor but little opportunity for water sports within the canyon itself. Today, the canyon is a protected natural area of Argentina.

Rafting

The nearest rafting to San Rafael is found in the Cañon del Atuel. The river in the canyon is a “beginners” river, with a rating of only 1 or 2 when the waters are down in the summer. This makes the canyon a perfect place to begin your experience with rafting, although it could get a little dull for those seeking major thrills. For a higher rated river, consider going to the Mendoza river or going to the area in the spring, when all the rivers and full of melted snow, running down from the Andes.

Las Leñas

This pricey, elite ski resort is mainly an attraction in the winter. From June to October, not only rich Argentines but the elite from North and South America come to this resort to ski and to watch ski champions enjoy the slopes. In the summer, tours still go to Las Leñas to enjoy the natural beauty of the mountains. Buses leave from the San Rafael bus station every day to Las Leñas in both winter and summer.

Vineyards

There a number of vineyards around San Rafael, some in walking or biking distance and others that do require the rental of a car. The sheer number of vineyards means that you have a wide range of options when it comes to the kind of vineyard you want to see. There are big, modernized vineyards that export internationally next to tiny, family run vineyards that sell wine from small kiosks outside their houses. Visiting the vineyards is easy—you don’t need to schedule a tour at most—but watch out for the hours, which are different at every vineyard and often include a midday closure of several hours.

  • Suter:
  • This vineyard immediately impresses with its beautiful reception area and enormous variety of wines, from rose Malbec to Champaign to sweat dessert wines. A modern bodega, it sits on the edge of one of its own vineyards, keeping the beauty of the countryside beside its concrete buildings. Tours are available at the door.

    Av. Hipólito Irigoyen 2850
    Tel: (+54 2627) 421076
    www.sutersa.com.ar
  • Bianchi:
  • A maker of champagne and wine, Bianchi produces mostly Cabernet Savignon and smaller lines of Malbec and Merlot. A modernized vineyard, it has an excellent tour and its wine is some of the best in Argentina.

    Ruta 143 & Calle Valentín Bianchi
    Tel:(02627) 422046
    www.vbianchi.com
  • Champaña Murville:
  • Another large vineyard, the San Rafael location is only one of several wineries that this company runs.

    Av. H. Yrigoyen 5800
    Tel: (54 2627) 430095
    www.murville.com
  • La Abeja and Jean Rivier:
  • These two small vineyards are both on Hypólito Yrigoyen and both within walking distance of the town. They have smaller, more personalized tours than some of the bigger vineyards and are closed in the early afternoons.

    La Abeja:
    Av. Hipólito Irigoyen 1900
    Tel: (54 2627) 439804
    www.bodegalaabeja.com.ar
    info@bodegalaabeja.com
    Jean Rivier:
    Av. Hipólito Irigoyen 2385
    Tel: (54 2627) 432676
    www.jeanrivier.com
    ventas@jeanrivier.com

    Of course, there are many other vineyards in the area, many accessible only by rented car or as a part of organized bus tours. To learn more, talk to your hostel/hotel, a local tourist agency, or to the tourist information center near the bus station.

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