Toponymy: : From mapundungun “huingan”, name for an indigenous bush and “co”, meaning water, stream, spring. Both terms make up the expression Huinganes Stream or Stream with huinganes

Access: By Provincial Route 39

Temperatures in summer: Maximum average 27ºC / Minimum average 13ºC

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

Distance from Neuquén (capital city): 461 km.

Distance from Buenos Aires City: 1387 km.

Municipality: Los Nires St. and Belgrano Ave. - Tel: +54 2948 499101

Gas/Service station: No

Huinganco and Cordillera del Viento

Directly related to the forestry history of the province, Huinganco is characterized by being immersed in a pine forest that began to be planted in 1964. The change experienced by this area has led it to be called “the Garden of Neuquen”.

Huinganco lies at 1200 m.a.s.l. within Cordillera del Viento, where the arid scenery characteristic of the North of Neuquen gives way to pine green and a dense forest enclosing the town.

Greenhouse and forestry activities (like afforestation, forests maintenance, sawmills and carpentry) are crucial for the inhabitants of this town. During recent years, the development of trout farms has gained importance, especially in the raising of Rainbow trout for commercial purposes. Likewise, high quality jams are produced and commercialized both locally and nationally.

Sprint time in Huinganco - Photo: Osvaldo Gagliardi

Huinganco History

With the arrival of the Argentine Army in 1879, the area was incorporated under Argentina’s sovereignty and Neuquén’s first civil authority was designated and settled in Huinganco and Charra Ruca valley.

The mining boom that began in 1883 attracted Chilean pirquineros (gold-seekers) as well as miners from different countries who came to work in the gold panning sites. The area came to be known as “the Argentinian California”, both for its abundant gold and the peculiarities of the mining activity.

In 1992, Primary School Nº76 was established, with Temístocles Figueroa as the first native teacher in Neuquen. This fact was fundamental to the future development of Huinganco.

In April 1964, Governor Felipe Sapag establishes the Comission for Development.

In 1971, the first 520 pine trees were planted in the field called “El Manzano” together with hundreds of poplar cuttings, thus giving rise to the first communal forest in Argentina. At present, Huinganco has more than 3700 hectares of forest in its area of influence.

Autumn in Huinganco - Photo: Osvaldo Gagliardi

What to visit in Huinganco

San Pedro Viewpoints

Formerly, this place was used by the crianceros (shepherds who rear and herd livestock) as a viewpoint from where they could keep an eye on their animals. Going up a bit further, one gets to a place called La Herradura (The Horseshoe), from where Andacollo and Neuquén Rivers can be seen, as well as the road leading to Las Ovejas and Los Miches. While getting to the first viewpoint, you can enjoy superb views of Cordillera del Viento and Huinganco. Continuing with the trip, you get to a natural opening in the hill where we find the Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, patron saint of the town.

Manzano Power Plant

Built in the ‘40s by Leonardi Mining Company, this Power Plant was operational until 1982, supplying electricity to Huinganco, Andacollo and Las Ovejas. It is considered to be the first Power Plant in Neuquén province.

Cañada Molina

Along NR 39, 22 km from Andacollo and 7 km from Huinganco, one gets to Cañada Molina Provincial Monument, where samples of 1200-year-old cypresses are guarded. According to studies carried out by the University of Tucson, Arizona, USA, those are the oldest in the southern hemisphere.

From a slice of cypress belonging to this relict –which was knocked down by a storm in 1989- it could be discovered that these trees date back to the year 800 AD, a condition that led specialists to conduct paleoclimatic studies. Such slice of cypress is currently exhibited at the Tree and Wood Museum.

The most characteristic feature of this protected area’s flora is the group of cypresses that make up small patches of wood, sometimes associated with stunted radales. These cypresses are relicts of the vast forests that used to cover the area and were cut down to be used in the gold mines or as firewood.

Corona Hill

Its ascent reaches 2992 m.a.s.l., lasting about five hours. You get beautiful views of the scenery surrounding Cordillera del Viento, with its lagoons and rivers not only when you get to the top, but all along the walk.

Cerro Corona ascending - Photo: Osvaldo Gagliardi

Gold Mines

This is a guided visit that can be done either on 4WD vehicles, on horseback or on foot. During the trip, you go past Trapiche, where talks on the gold mining process are provided. Then, the gold site Mina Aurora and its galleries dating from 1936 are visited. Finally, there is a trekking to the Alluvium Rastrojos, where you can take part of a photographic safari in Huemules and Rahueco Streams.

Tree and Wood Museum

Different types of wood are displayed. Among its curiosities, there is a slice of cypress dating back over 1200 years. Old stones, notes and pictures of the area can also be seen in this museum.

Winter in Huinganco - Photo: Osvaldo Gagliardi

What to see in Northern Neuquén