Toponymy: Andacollo (from Quechua anda anta, anti: place with metal, bright, high; collo, colla, collao: high place, inhabitant of the heights). Shining up high.

Access: By Provincial Route 43

Temperatures in summer: Maximum average 28ºC / Minimum average 14ºC

Temperatures in winter: Maximum average 13ºC / Minimum average 2ºC

Distance from Neuquén (capital city): 456 km.

Distance from Buenos Aires City: 1382 km.

Department of Tourism and Environment: 194 Nahueve St. | - Tel: +54 2948 494060

Gas/Service station: Yes

In Patagonia of Valleys and Volcanoes, to the northeast of Neuquen Province, we find Minas District. Its surrounding landscape includes the Cordillera del Viento, important watersheds such as Neuquén, Nahueve and Varvarco Rivers, fertile valleys that define its pastoral economy, important mining sites and major tourist attractions.

Andacollo is the head of Minas District, and its population is close to 3500 inhabitants. Located to the NE of Neuquen Province at 1113 m.a.s.l., the city of Andacollo stretches over a magnificent valley on the left bank of Neuquén River, 5 km from the confluence of Neuquén and Nahueve Rivers, and 60 km to the south of Chos Malal. From this gorgeous valley, the magnitude and beauty of the Cordillera del Viento can be appreciated.

Formerly known as Cañada del Durazno, the place arose out of the mining activity but at present it has diversified its production into agricultural, forest and tourist projects.

Andacollo presents itself as a city capable of achieving high growth, supported by the richness and variety of its natural resources for both tourism and agriculture, as well as by its strategic location, since it is part of the northern provincial inter-oceanic route, either by border crossings Buta Mallín or Pichachén.

Pichachen International border - Photo:

Andacollo History

In 1882 the first gold-seekers arrived at the area and began to exploit the gold panning sites: Colo, Cajón de los Caballos, Los Maitenes, Villa Michi Co, Huaraco, Cerro Las Minas and El Chingue.

The settlers had been attracted by the gold exploitation carried out by Neuquén Proprietary Gold Mines in Cerro de la Julia, since it labored a considerable number of workers. The company stopped its activities due to the combination of inefficient administration and a decline in the exploitation. Although some individual endeavours continued, they did not yield the expected results.

By the year 1908 some groups of families had already been settled, among them the Vivancos, the Ossas, the Quirogas; and later the traders Acuña, Munk, Pedro and Esteban De Vega arrived. As a result, the National School Nº28 was created, having Don Colón R. Dodero as its director, and the Police Department and the Court were established.

The town was founded by the former governor of the territory of Neuquén, Don Eduardo Elordi, who designated it as head of Minas District.

In February 18, 1938 the Commission for Development was created by decree of the President of the Nation General Uriburu. The members of this first Commission were Jorge S. Magnasco, Francisca Quintana and Pedro De Vega, among others.

By decree Nº 44902 from October 26, 1939 signed by President Roberto Ortiz, the town was officially named Andacollo. This is considered to be the foundation date.

By the year 1943, the national government entrusted the agronomist Don Carlos Mazanti with the urbanization, distribution and location of the current layout of the city.

Bicentennial Independence Monument and the Cordillera del Viento - Photo: Osvaldo Gagliardi

What to visit in Andacollo

Cordillera del Viento

Different trips are offered from Andacollo to the impressive Cordillera del Viento. They range from a day-trip ascent to Cerro Corona to medium-difficulty walks through the mountain range reaching the ‘Cruce del Viento’ (ancient border crossing used by herds during transhumance), going past the hills Huaraco, Centinela, Pan de Azúcar and Corona.

More information: Cordillera del Viento

Puesto de Trashumancia y Cordillera del Viento - Photo: Osvaldo Gagliardi

Municipal Museum

Formerly, this building housed a library, then a radio station belonging to the National Gendarmerie and then a postal office. In 1996 the Museum was finally established in the building. At present, it has three rooms that host part of the history of the area, the town and its people. Different utensils and elements used by the first settlers can be seen in the museum.

Bicentennial Independence Monument - Photo: Osvaldo Gagliardi

Los Saltillos

Small and attractive waterfalls which can be seen on Huaraco Stream, at only 3 km from Andacollo, along PR 39 taking the detour to Mina Sofía.

Rock-Art Huaraco

Important rock-art site, located a few kilometers from the town, with paintings of considerable size and interesting graphic images.

Cañadón de Los Pirquineros

It covers an area of approximately 6300 m2, which has been declared Municipal Reserve according to Ordinance Nº065/96, aiming at tourism, forestry and landscaping. The creation of this Tourist-Cultural Reserve “Cañada de los Pirquineros” (Ordinance Nº649/01) has the objective of being a tourist-mining park. Here, ancient gold panning and mining sites can be seen, together with the place destined to the construction of a historic mining monument that would offer the visitors a glimpse of the most relevant economic activity of the region.

There are plans moving ahead for the valorization and organization of the activities that will be carried out in the Reserve, consistent with the surrounding landscape. Among those activities, there is the possibility to plant indigenous vegetation as well as to include interpretive trails and their respective stations and signs. The demarcation of places of restricted use is also part of those plans.

Bar minero

Located on PR 39, it is an ancient building made of adobe, stone and cardboard roof that used to be a bar where miners got together and had their celebrations. A nearby meadow can be seen, together with the bustards that choose this place to hatch and breed the offspring.

There are projects to recycle the building and turn it into a roadside bar where the inhabitants of Huaraco can sell their products.

Bar Minero - Photo: Osvaldo Gagliardi

Sofía and Buena Vista Mines

In these gold and silver mines visitors can appreciate the current mining process both at the plant and at the entrance to the mine. Authorization is required.

Mining Plant

Several mining companies have carried out their works here, taking advantage of the veins of mines Julia and Sofía. The ruins of a former mining company which stopped working in 1960 can be seen in this place.

Archaeological findings GUBEVI

Situated on PR 38. In this place, skeletal remains, carved stones and pottery that could have belonged to the pehuenche culture have been accidentally found. GUBEVI Andacollo –dating from 1878 approximately- is the first grave found and dug in Minas District and it has the earliest pottery in the province of Neuquén. Currently, the site is identified as archaeological but it is not fenced yet due to its closeness to PR 38.

Sector hallazgo arqueológico GUBEVI - Photo:

Quebrada Honda y Cerro La Ventanita

These gully and stream situated to the north of Andacollo are part of a former path that shortened the way to Cayanta. At the top of the hill La Ventanita there is a natural ‘window’, a viewpoint from which it is possible to appreciate the sight of the valley of Nahueve and Neuquén Rivers and Andacollo.

What to Visit in Andacollo

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Popular Festivals in Andacollo

Provincial Festival of the ‘Veranador’

It is organized with the aim of vindicating and honouring the field workers. In the course of this festival, activities and skills related to the country are showed off, like rodeos, cow-milking, sheep riding, and games like musical chairs. All these take place in the rodeo field.

During day and night typical dishes can be tasted, tortas fritas, empanadas, broiled goat, casseroles, homemade bread, goat cheese, chupilca, humitas, mote, etc.

At night there are folk music and dance shows with local bands as well as with provincial and national bands. Stalls with regional handicrafts on display also add to the attractiveness of this festival.

Los Guañacos - Photo:

What to see in Northern Neuquén