Las Ovejas

Toponymy: Its name derives from the former identification of the place as “Pampa de las Ovejas” (Sheep Pampa), since the area used to be a wintering pasture for breeding sheep.

Access: By Provincial Route 43

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

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

Distance from Neuquén (capital city): 492 km.

Distance from Buenos Aires City: 1411 km.

Municipality: A. Merino and C. Vera St. - Tel: +54 2948 481069

Gas/Service station: Yes

Lying within 5 km westward Nahueve River, Las Ovejas is geographically located in one of the valleys between the Andes and the Cordillera del Viento. Both mountain ranges run parallel to each other, the Cordillera del Viento showing a marked continuity in north-south direction.

It is the entrance gate to the main tourist attractions in the North of Neuquen Province, and it is also at the core of the road network leading to several tourist centers, like Epulafquen Lagoons, Domuyo, Cordillera del Viento, Varvarco, Los Bolillos and Colo Michi Co.

Neuquén River and Domuyo Peak- Photo: Osvaldo Gagliardi

Las Ovejas History

Pehuenche tribes like Caripil, Maripil and others used to settle in this place during the wintering periods.

In times of the Pincheiras (family of bandits who inhabited the area between 1800 and 1830), it was also used as a wintering field for the family’s cattle. Later, it continued to be used for the same purpose by Chilean crianceros (shepherds who rear and herd livestock) coming from Malbarco Colony, between Bella Vista and Invernada Vieja, and the fertile valley of Nahueve River. From 1879 onwards, rural settlements were stable.

In 1907 Primary School Nº30 was established, giving rise to the town’s organization. In May 1937 the Commission for Development began its activities, and some time later the National Gendarmerie detachment was settled. In 1945, with the construction of San Sebastián Chapel, the town gained importance as a tourist and religious pilgrimage center.

Confluencia ríos Buraleo y Nahueve - Photo: Luis Alberto Reyes

What to visit in Las Ovejas

La Puntilla Viewpoint

Going along PR 43 for about 5 km northward Las Ovejas, you get to La Puntilla, from where breathtaking views are offered. It is strategically located on a crag about 1000 m high, with six natural balconies connected by a wooden walkway of about 130 m, with steps to make it easier to go from one balcony to the other.

At each of its landings, views of unparalleled beauty can be enjoyed, perfectly suitable for photographic safaris lovers. Among such views is Huinganco, one of the most captivating sceneries in the North of Neuquén, whose beauty made it to be known as “the Garden of Neuquén”.

Butalón Norte and the rock art site Colo Michi Co –the most important not only in Patagonia but in America- can also be seen from La Puntilla.

From another balcony you can appreciate Domuyo Peak (4709 m.a.s.l.), Cordillera del Viento and the Andes, with its snow-capped hills showing different shades of colours, and the winding flow of Neuquén River.

Laguna El Ocho y Cerro Crestado - Photo:

Epulafquen Lagoons

Their name derives from Mapundungun term meaning “two lagoons”. Heading south from Las Ovejas, along PR 43, take a left at the junction of it and PR 45. Driving westward for about 40 km you reach the first lagoon, which is the source of Nahueve River. Going along the lagoon’s right shore and crossing the bridge over Pincheira stream, you get to the second lagoon, called Superior. Both lagoons are connected by the stream La Nasa.

More information about Epulafquen Lagoons

El Ocho Lagoon and Crestado Hill- Photo: Ariel Aravena

Epulafquen Lagoons Historical Reference

The Epulafquen Lagoons and their surrounding areas used to be the Pincheiras’ refuge. Of Spanish descent, the Pincheiras were the last defenders of the Spanish Crown between 1820 and 1832. They were scattered all over the northern area of Neuquén, making use of the valleys to fatten the cattle stolen in the Pampas and then taken to Chile. They were defeated by the Chilean Army on January 14, 1832 in a battle that took place between the lagoons Inferior and Superior. There is a sign in this place, making reference to this historical fact.

More than 1000 captive women were found there, and the Chilean Army took more than 700 prisoners. Chilean General Manuel Bulnes, who was in charge of the expedition, returned to Chile with 20 000 heads of cattle but without the “Pincheiras’ Treasure”, which has remained as a legend, and is still sought for by locals and visitors..

Fishing in Las Ovejas

A majestic framing landscape is provided by valleys and volcanoes, on whose slopes planted pines intertwine with indigenous ñires, pellín oaks and chacay. Here, only fly-fishing is allowed.

Nahueve River: Excellent for fishing, this river has its source in Epulafquen Lagoons. Brown, Rainbow and Brook Trout of different sizes abound in this river, both at its source and at its confluence with Buraleo River. Fishing is recommended throughout the river’s length.

Buraleo River: Having its source at the melting waters from Andean glaciers, its waters are colder and more crystalline than Nahueve’s. Though shallow, trout abound in this river.

Epulafquen Lagoons: The lagoons are favourable for fishing trout, silverside and perch, being La Nasa stream one of tourists’ favourite places. La Nasa connects both lagoons.

Nahueve River - Photo:

Popular Festivals

San Sebastián Festival

Every year, San Sebastián Festival is organized from January 10th to 20th. This celebration has a history of more than 70 years, always taking place at Sepulveda family’s Charra Ruca Grotto. January 20 is San Sebastián’s Day, Patron Saint of crianceros, and it is the local church who organizes the different activities carried out during this celebration.

This is the most significant religious events in Neuquén province, attracting an increasing number of followers each year, who come to worship San Sebastián not only from the rest of Neuquén, but also from the rest of the country and even abroad.

What to see in Northern Neuquén