Rincon de los Sauces

Toponymy: Formerly, there existed a wide variety of willows on the banks of Colorado River, and settlers had them as a reference to find their way, ”3 miles from the willows corner”

Access: By Provincial Route 6

Temperatures in summer: Maximum average 34ºC / Minimum average 20ºC

Temperatures in winter: Maximum average 15ºC / Minimum average 4ºC

Distance from Neuquén (capital city): 219 km.

Distance from Buenos Aires City: 1161 km.

Department of Tourism and Environment: Jujuy 1050 | Tel: +54 299 4886029

Gas/Service station: Yes

Regarded as ”the Oil Capital”, Rincón de los Sauces lies along Colorado River and its soil provides the resource that supplies the country’s energy industry.

Its location determines the semiarid climate, showing the characteristics of a desert area with scarce rainfalls and low humidity records. Summers are extremely hot, with temperatures reaching 40ºC. The flora is very rich, with a wide range of indigenous vegetation that is unique in the province as well as in the rest of the country. Some of those indigenous species are considered to offer medicinal and healing powers: jarilla, sampa, vidriera, matasevo, Azorella, Chuquiraga, and argylia robusta among others.

Native fauna that prevails in the area includes: guanacos, foxes, skunks, armadillos, maras (Patagonian hare), armadillos, tortoise, inambú, macá, Neotropic cormorant and ñanco.

Colorado River close to Rincón de los Sauces

Oil Well not far from Rincón de los Sauces - Photo: Osvaldo Gagliardi

Rincon de los Sauces History

In the ’60s, the state company YPF began its oil exploration activities in the area, hitting oil in 1968 in Puesto Hernández. Over the years, this place became one of the main oilfields in the country.

Oil discovery led to a rapid change in the area, and the old oil campsite turned into a town, which was officially founded on December 20, 1971.

Paleontologists extracting a dinosaur fossil.

What to visit in Rincón de los Sauces

Municipal Paleontological Museum Argentino Urquiza

Located on the corner of Jujuy and Chaco St., this museum has 440 pieces on display, including original ones found in the area as well as replicas. Most of the pieces shown are titanosaur sauropod dinosaurs, some are tortoise and others crocodiles.

Some fossils still remain embedded in rocks for future study.

Carlos Fuentes at Municipal Paleontological Museum Argentino Urquiza - Photo: Argentour.com

Auca Mahuida Provincial Reserve

You can access the Reserve by different ways, the main one being 35 km southeast of Rincón de los Sauces, along PR 6. The Reserve covers a surface of 77 020 hectares, although proposals have been put forward with the aim of redefining its boundaries and expanding its surface.

More information about Auca Mahuida

Auca Mahuida - Photo: Argentour.com

Auca Mahuida Ghost Town

89 km southwards of Rincón de los Sauces, time seems to have stood still on August 22, 1947. Auca Mahuida used to be an asphaltite mine operated by the homonymous company, which had to close down after an explosion that left 15 miners buried in the mine’s underground galleries.

In its heyday, in 1947, around 1500 people lived in the town, although today only a group of about 20 houses remain. But no inhabitants. Auca Mahuida was once the largest town in the region, when Añelo was no more than a spot and Rincón de los Sauces didn’t exist yet.

In the underground mine, 105 m deep and 350 m long, 80 trucks of asphaltite were produced per day, along tunnels at different levels of depth.

Abandoned houses and buildings can be found all along the avenue, some of them with their roofs, plaster and adobe bricks still intact, some of them totally run-down. The former general store, the infirmary, the butcher’s shop and the police station with its jail lie on the hillside, facing what used to be the offices of Auca Mahuida Company, which operated La Escondida mine.

Colorado River in Rincón de los Sauces - Photo: Municipalidad de Rincón de los Sauces

What to see in Northern Neuquén