Buta Ranquil

Toponymy: From Mapudundun language: “buta”, big and “rancül”, grass, reed from wet places, pasture. Big pastures.

Access: By National Route 40

Temperatures in summer: Maximum average 30ºC / Minimum average 16ºC

Temperatures in winter: Maximum average 13ºC / Minimum average 4ºC

Distance from Neuquén (capital city): 520 km.

Distance from Buenos Aires City: 1337 km.

Secretariat of State, Production and Tourism: Ruta Nacional 40 - Tel: +54 2948 482027

Gas/Service station: Yes

Buta Ranquil rural aerea and Tromen Volcano - Photo: Luis Alberto Reyes

The valley of Buta Ranquil (1245 m.a.s.l.) is located in an area bordering the Andes de Transición and Precordillera on the northern end of Neuquen Province. It is bordered by Colorado River, orographic formations of Chihuido and Tromen volcano range.

This fertile valley is bathed by Buta Ranquil, Huantraico and Chacay streams.

Its dry climate gives way to a microclimate due to the height, which plays its role in condensing humidity. Precipitations are scarce, most of which fall in winter. The reason for this phenomenon is that in winter the winds blowing from the Pacific anticyclone come deep into the continent, with the resulting frost and snowfalls in high places and drizzles in the lower lands. Summer is hot until autumn, when it begins to get cooler. The sudden change in temperature is accompanied by strong winds, storms and sometimes heavy rainfalls.

Most of the town dwellers are engaged in livestock breeding, especially caprine, ovine and equine. Approximately 300 hectares are destined to the growing of alfalfa and several vegetables.

The richness of Neuquén Basin and its gas and hydrocarbon reserves in the region of Buta Ranquil has helped the town become an important service provider, bringing benefits to many oil and gas companies.

Colorado River an 40 National Route - Photo: Argentour.com

Buta Ranquil History

By decree Nº1113 signed by governor Felipe Sapag, the date of foundation was registered as August 21, 1985. The records show that in that year, a big group of several families coming from Chile settled down in the area where Buta Ranquil lies today.

When the flooding of Cari Lauquen lagoon took place in 1914, this locality came to be the head of Pehuenches District. Its people, who were of Chilean origin, cultivated the land and bred different livestock. According to the 1889 census, Buta Ranquil had 200 inhabitants, and in 1896 the construction of the Police Department began

The National School Nº 26 was created in 1904 with Mr. Celestino Cabra as its director. The same year, Mr. Faustino Reissig was designated Justice of the Peace.

The Commission for Development began its activities in 1928. The first members were Segundo Carreño, José Jadull, Silverio Alonso and Abraham Elem. It was officially recognized on May 27, 1931, by decree of the Executive, signed by President Uriburu.

What to visit in Buta Ranquil

Tromen Volcano

Reaching 4114 m.a.s.l., it is ideal not only for those who love climbing, but also for those who want to practice trekking or go on a photographic safari.

Volcán Tromen - Photo: Argentour.com

Laguna El Aparato

(Aparato Lagoon): In this lagoon, at only 10 km from Buta Ranquil, there exist wild birds such as Black-necked swans, ducks, coots and wild geese. The lagoon is inviting for canoeing and angling. Among the species found are silverside, trout, rainbow trout, and perch.

Laguna El Aparato - Photo: Luis Alberto Reyes

Laguna del Tromen

(Tromen Lagoon): By the Tromen volcano, at its foothill, this lagoon of exotic beauty and crystalline waters hosts wild birds that find a refuge in this natural environment. Several species of wild ducks, Black-necked swans and flamingoes live here, although there are no fish in this lagoon.

Flamengos en Laguna Tromen - Photo: Alejandra Melideo

Cactus Area

At Colorado riverside, 10 km from Buta Ranquil, a species of an endemic cactus can be appreciated, whose characteristics make it unique. It can reach from 1.50 m up to 2.20 m high.

Los Cactus - Photo: Luis Alberto Reyes

Rock-art Paintings

Important archaeological findings near the area of Butaco include those of Caverna del Huemul (Huemul Cave), with different archaeological remains and rock-art paintings. The latter can also be found in the rural area near the town.

Caverna del Huemul - Photo: Luis Alberto Reyes

La Tungar

At only 30 km from Buta Ranquil we find La Tungar, a place of historic significance. Here, by the end of the 1930s (1937-1940) there were German entrepreneurs who were engaged in coal mining. As said by workers of that time, the Germans worked for Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and sent to the German regime coal and manadio, both of which were vital for their arsenals. Today, remains of the town and the mine can be visited, together with a bunker that has prevailed almost unchanged.

Remains of fossilized crustaceans and other marine creatures can also be found in the area, as well as rock crystals.

La Tungar - Photo: Luis Alberto Reyes

Cerro Wayle Snow Park

Located at 30 km from Buta Ranquil, the Wayle Hill rises majestically to 3296m, just opposite Tromen volcano. Every year more and more tourists feel attracted to this place, not only local visitors but from other provinces as well. In winter, Wayle Hill Snow Park is the main tourist attraction of northern Neuquén. The amount and quality of snow allows the practice of downhill and cross-country skiing, or snowmobile riding. The slopes and their potential development for a ski resort are currently under study.

La Salamanca Cavern

Speleology lovers or those who are just interested in discovering the wonders of the underground world can visit La Salamanca Cavern, located only 2 km from Buta Ranquil, northwards along NR 40, in a place called Aguada de los Pajaritos.

La Salamanca is 204 m long. The inside tunnel is decorated with pseudo-stalactites sculpted by dripping volcanic lava, which resulted in fabulous stone figures.Their formation and composition have been object of study for many specialists.

El Hoyo or la Olla

Just a kilometer westward, on the way to Tromen volcano, lies the geographical feature called El Hoyo. It resembles a huge "pot" of about 200 meters diameter which breaks up the flatness of the area, calling the visitors’ attention.

Several hypotheses on its origin have been put forward, though no scientific studies have been carried out yet. Some of the proposed explanations refer to the impact of a meteorite, others to land sinking due to its instability caused by groundwater flow.

El Hoyo or La Olla - Photo: Luis Alberto Reyes

Salto Arroyo Buta-co

Waterfall Stream Buta-co: Along NR 40, northbound, after about 20 km you reach a small bridge over Buta-co stream. Then, you can continue along the road upstream for about 2 km, covering the last 3 km of the ride on foot, until you reach the impressive 60-meter waterfall. This is an appealing walk skirting the stream.

On the way you can see what used to be an industrial plant used for the production of electricity from the strong current of Buta-co stream.

It should be taken into account that the complete ride (both ways) takes about 3 hours.

Salto Arroyo Buta-co - Photo: Luis Alberto Reyes

Precipicio de los Basaltos

The Basalts Gully: About 15 km northward along NR 40, you get to the area of Cerro Huemul. A bumpy road on the right leads to a breathtaking view of the waterfalls called “Salto de los Basaltos”. A gully of approximately 100 mts offers a gorgeous view of Colorado river and Sierra de Reyes.

It is important to go along these roads very carefully, as they end at the gully.

It is said that Sierra de Reyes, in Mendoza province, has been named after the winner in a duel to death that took place there. No one remembers exactly when.

Precipicio de los Basaltos- Photo: Luis Alberto Reyes

What to see in Northern Neuquén