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The northern area of San Luis preserves its historic legacy intact. The best way to embark on this magic circuit that runs at the feet of the nearby highlands is through the Provincial Route No 3. The route starts from the Avenida Centenario avenue of the Provincial Capital City heading East, and about five kilometres away it takes the mentioned route due North, and some kilometres ahead it engages with National Route No 146.

Ancient chapels, adobe made ranches, beautiful "casonas" or old typical houses from the late 19th century and early 20th century, wonderful ponds, pre historic rock paintings, waterfalls, all of them framed by a typical landscape of the highlands that develops for the pleasure of the tourist.

The main characteristic shared by the villages that appear along this circuit is the fact that during the Colony some estancia ranches were established in the vicinity of the streams that flow from the hillsides of the Sierra. Later on, nearly all of these ranches gave birth to the picturesque villages that nowadays are so pleasant to the senses of the traveller that arrives to the area.

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At 23 kilometres from the City of San Luis, Suyuque is a little villa that keeps the Convento de las Hermanas Benedictinas de Nuestra Señora de la Fidelidad Convent, and stands alone in the very guts of the mountain.

The Convent is situated on a splendid natural viewing point, atop the Sierra itself. There the traveller can make a stop to enjoy the view and taste the delicious typical sweets made out of milk, fruits and honey, produced by the nuns of the convent.

Two kilometres ahead there is a public river beach resort, with "churrasquerías" or typical steak vendors and very nice shadowy places.

At a distance of 38 kilometres from the Provincial Capital City and 16 kilometres to the North of Suyuque Nuevo, placed in the midst of a wild landscape and framed by the high crests that turn into a great gorge, is located the Villa de la Quebrada or Village of the Ravine, a locality that as Suyuque, keeps the custody a place of pilgrimage: the Santuario del Cristo de la Quebrada Sanctuary.

The first thing that the Villa de la Quebrada shows to the traveller is its narrow streets and their large walled houses, in deep contrast with the meagreness of the doors and windows. Don Tomás Alcaráz, who in the year of 1868 donated the terrains to delineate the town's centre, once owned the area. As the legend refers, he was also the proprietor of the small crucifix that is worshipped in the present days in the small chapel that he himself ordered to be built.

From this chapel, facing the central square starts the ascension to the Villa Vía Calvario village, going up by the slope of the small hill Tinaja, with its height of 320 metres that has become a beautiful viewing point.

The ascent is some 1400 metres of walking. It represents a Via Crucis and shows groups of sculptures (each almost life size) depicting the 14 Stations, all carved in marble from Carrara by the Italian artist Nicolás Amighini, and were inaugurated on the third of May in the year 1951.

This path turns the Santuario del Cristo de la Quebrada into an architectural work that is unique in Latin America, and constitutes one of the major popular religious attractions of Argentina.

Inside the single nave of the temple rests an image of Jesús Crucificado, known as the Cristo de la Quebrada, a missionary relic whose wooden Cross with polychrome layer gives its name to the Village and is regarded as an object of cult and pilgrimage. The Fiesta del Santo Cristo Festivities take place the three first days of May. Each year some 150 thousand worshipers from all over the Country and from other Nations as well, come together here on those days.

During the acts, an impressive crafts market and a huge camping site gets organized. There are thousands among thousands of tents; wagons and trucks are disposed as dwellings. Nevertheless, the Village can be visited all year round. There will always be homemade bread and other goods from the region. It also has a camping site, a small hostelry and a municipal river beach resort.

In the Villa de la Quebrada the traveller has the alternative of taking a walk towards the Cerro de la Bandera Mountain, in the ravine of Huascara, doing some mountaineering to the top of the Cerro Agua Hedionda Mountain at 2250 m.a.s.l., or to take a horse back ride through the surroundings.

To Villa de la Quebrada you can also arrive from the North of the Province, by the Ruta Nacional No 79, starting from the Provincia La Rioja Province, and across the Ruta Nacional No 20, from the provinces of Mendoza, San Juan and Córdoba to the locality of Luján from where the Provincial Route No 146 is to be taken.

At 45 kilometres from the City of San Luis, to the North of the Villa de la Quebrada Village, stands the well known town of Nogolí, that in the present days bears the name of Hipólito Irigoyen.

Nogolí is an oasis located in the western foothills of the Sierras del San Luis. Nogolí means "good waters" in the native language and owes the name, most probably, to the pristine waters of the river that runs here, waters that are stored by the recently inaugurated Dique Nogalí Dam.

The place was granted to Don Andrés Fuenzalida de Guzmán in the 17th century, and has recently been rediscovered by a group of enthusiastic voyagers that encountered in the waters of the river and the shadows of its olive trees, a matchless place for relaxation and fun.

There is an excellent municipal river beach among forests and offering all kinds of commodities. There is also a camping site supplied with barbecue grills, many clear water streams, and a provincial hostelry. Nearby, extensive fields of olive trees frame the entrance to the beautiful ranch of El Faro.

In this way concludes our trip to the North of the City of San Luis. However, for the aimless traveller that always keeps looking for new destinations, we recommend to go forward on the road up to Leandro N. Alem, San Francisco del Monte de Oro, Luján and Quines.

A hundred and twenty kilometres from the City of San Luis, by the Ruta Nacional No 146, a totally paved road, and amiably guarded off by majestic mountains and green fields that supply a fascinating experience to the traveller.

Leandro N. Alem is located at the middle of the localities of San Francisco del Monte de Oro and of Luján, and offers several places ideal for practicing trekking and mountaineering.

History asserts that this small village was originally called "Los Corrales", then it took the name of "6 de Septiembre" and only recently, from 1947 on, it is known by its actual name. This place was also renowned in the past for its muleteers and horse tamers.

The traveller will find in Leandro N. Alem a handful of alternatives with which to enjoy its marvellous environments.

For instance, at only three kilometres distance, we can find Las Parrillas, a water outlet that provides the town and its farming fields, although its main attraction actually stands in the fact that the river that flows across, forms uncounted pools where the local families seek coolness during the warm seasons.

Further on, ten kilometres away from the town's Central Square, a beautiful and fascinating place called Los Morteros can be found. Here the traveller will find another overwhelming arrangement of natural lakes among the breathtaking mountains with camping sites scattered in the surroundings.

Re-entering the road and going three more kilometres in the same direction, we will arrive at La Maroma. As the Leandro N. Alem villagers often tell, it is the Mother of all Lakes, a marvellous mirror of water that beckons contemplation and spiritual relax. A rustic corral for mules, assembled with branches, and several fig trees growing in twisted shapes, bestow a particular sensation upon the landscape.

Around the Village, the smart traveller will be interested in a visit with a palaeontology twist. The place is called "Piedra del Indio", a huge boulder hidden among the mountains, splattered with quebracho and pepper trees and creepers. The aborigines that once roamed the zone, thousands of years ago, filled the rocks with lots of amazing paintings.

Another alternative is a walking excursion to the top of El Realito, the guardian mountain of the zone, with an altitude of 1640 m.a.s.l. It will turn out to be a real adventure, starting at the Potrero de los Leyes, getting then into the Ravine of Las Talas, ascending through a zigzag trek surrounded by palm trees like the carnauba wax palm, also molle pepper trees, the so called espinillos, wild apple trees but mostly with huckleberry, fuchsias and rosemary plants.
When the traveller finally gets to the top, he will find there a plateau where the aborigines of the zone employed impressive outcroppings of rocks, weathered by the winds, many years ago as shelters. Indeed, in this place actually exists an archaeological site called La Angostura.

In this locality there are no lodgings available, with the resulting convenience to stay overnight in the provincial hostelries of Luján and San Francisco del Monte de Oro, twenty kilometres away.

At 112 kilometres to the North of the Capital City, along the well paved Ruta Nacional N° 146 plus a small trip over a gravel road over the Provincial Route No 9, the traveller will arrive at a village that is submerged into the sierras of San Luis and of Socoscora, in the valley formed by the river San Francisco and with an altitude of 776 m.a.s.l. : San Francisco del Monte de Oro.

This river, precisely, divides the Village in two parts. The northern side, profusely urbane, commercial and cultural. And the southern side, old fashioned and crisscrossed by picturesque narrow streets.

In the South sector of the square that faces the church, there still stands an old school founded in the year 1826 by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. It was declared as a National Historical Monument in 1941.

San Francisco is located on top of a huge plaque of a high quality, nearly pure crystal quartz that, along with cobalt, onyx and uranium ores, give form to a mineral compound of high energetic welfare. This property brings stability to the climate, and develops a high concentration of ozone, which positively enhances the good health of its inhabitants and of those that come to the area.

Places worth visiting
The landscape of San Francisco presents an enormous variety of sights. Its clear water streams, flowing among waterfalls and pools, its creeks, its exotic carnauba wax palm trees, are enough arguments to satisfy the longings of the most demanding visitors.

The town owns the Municipal River Beach Resort of Las Palmas, of an unusual beauty and with a spectacular natural landscape, along with toilet facilities and other commodities. In the nearby vicinity, the fabulous river beach resort of El Esteco awaits the traveller at the shores of an impressive lake.

From San Francisco del Monte de Oro, excursions to the Salto Escondido, Valle Encantado, Las Piedras Pintadas (depicting rock paintings more than eight thousand years old), Rodeo de Cadena, El Rincón, the ravines of Cal, Socoscora and López, Las Chacras, El Azud, Dique de Luján, Sierra de Las Quijadas, Carolina and Quines are presently scheduled.

In all of these places the traveller can enjoy the practice of trekking, horseback riding, mountain bike, fishing, canoeing and mountain climbing. During the first fortnight of January, the whole town celebrates the Fiesta Provincial del Artesano or the Provincial Festivity of the Craftsman.

At a distance of 120 kilometres from the Province Capital City, driving down the Ruta Nacional Nº 146 National Route, and at the banks of the Río Seco River, appears, full of dignity and wealth, the ancient village of Luján.

Concerning its urban deployment, one of its main characters is a church built in the year of 1850, in a typical northern style.

Surrounded by a dream like landscape, from where flows the perfumed scent of its orange trees, this locality offers to the traveller the quietness of its river and the Dique Luján Dam, a splendid place to engage in the sport fishing of trout and atherines. The City has a viewing point that allows for a panorama view of the region in all its magnificence.

There is a craftsmen school and each year the celebration of the Fiesta Provincial de la Naranja (which means orange) takes place.

Some 150 kilometres to the North of the Capital City, among large plantations of citrus fruits and date fruits, we will reach Quines, a locality that has been transformed into an important centre of communications with the towns of other provinces such as Córdova or San Juan.

In its surroundings, by means of interesting attractions to the traveller, appear two river beach resorts that share outstandingly beautiful highland landscapes and hot spring water fountains. One of them is the Balneario El Muro, four kilometers away, assuredly the culminating spot of the Quines River.

The Escuela Agrotécnica de Cultivos e Industrias Regionales or Agro-Technical School of Farming and Regional Industries can be found there, an area of about 200 hectares of self irrigated lands and devoted to enhancing the production of poultry, milk, honey and vegetables of the region.

Quines counts with a hostelry service, camping sites and restaurants. It offers its famed handicrafts, especially of wood. That is the reason that it yearly celebrates the Fiesta Provincial del Mate.

At 160 kilometres from the City of San Luis, driving by the Provincial Routes No 20 and No 2, the Libertador General San Martín is a small town that offers among its main attractions the sight of the historical Chapel of Nuestra Señora de Santa Bárbara, that still preserves its bell, the largest of the Province.

In this town, the traveller will also be able to visit the Museo Arqueológico Municipal Polifacético and enjoy the Municipal River Beach Resort, and two kilometres away, get an unforgettable experience in the practice of rappel, trekking or horse back rides around the withered stony outcroppings of the Cerro Blanco Mountain, on which top one can get a fine panoramic view of the area.

Seven kilometres forward the traveller will find the Dique La Huertita Dam, a water mirror more than twelve kilometres long and totalling 450 hectares of surface, making it ideal for the practice of water sports as well as for fishing for atherine and rainbow trout. The fishing Clubs La Huertita and Merlo provide adequate lodgings for the fishermen.

Another marvel of the San Luis Highlands appears 14 kilometres further: the picturesque ravine of San Vicente, an exhilarating pass that is in reality a geological failure where the stream of San Vicente is born.

Three blocks away from the San Martín Main Square you will find the Provincial Hostelry.

At 136 kilometres from the Capital City, by the Ruta Provincial N° 2, Las Chacras provides one of the more attractive landscapes of San Luis.

Called Las Chacras de Osorio in the old times, it is a cultural tourist attraction from a historical point of view, because in it is located the "Monumento al Pueblo Puntano de la Independencia".

This is an architectonical assembly that was inaugurated on August 17th, 1991 as a reminder of the place where a squadron of eight hundred volunteers from the zone were militarily trained and who later joined the glorious Regimiento de Granaderos a Caballo 1, 2 and 3 that fought in Peru under the command of General José de San Martín.

This monument, built out of granite and other stones that where extracted from quarries of the Province, shows plaques with the names of the "puntanos" soldiers that died during the Independence War, and their remains are kept in three caskets. In the plaza an amphitheatre has also been erected for cultural activities.

The main attraction is a waterfall in a place known as La Mesilla del Cura that falls from a small plateau, on the very edge of the highlands, and gushes into a deep gorge of the Luján River, giving birth to a phenomena known as "chispeadero" . It can be seen at 21 kilometres distance, going by a nearby road.

The Chispeadero, as has been already told, is a 40 metres high waterfall that owes its name, as becomes obvious, to the "chispas" or sparkles that bounce randomly from the contact of the water with the rocks, and will wet the face of the traveller that comes too near while beholding the bliss of its beauty.

The access to this fall presents several inconveniences. To be able to observe it in all its magnitude, the traveller must descend a steep wall of about 50 metres. To do that some precautions are necessary. Moreover, the company of an expert guide is absolutely essential.

In the near vicinity of the waterfall there are some suitable places for camping. For other items as lodgings and food services you will need to go to Las Chacras.


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