Toponymy: From Mapudungun “lonco”, cacique, indigenous head, chief; and “hue”, place. Cacique’s place or Capital, head

Access: By Provincial Route 21

Temperatures in summer: Maximum average 31ºC / Minimum average 17ºC

Temperatures in winter: Maximum average 15ºC / Minimum average 5ºC

Distance from Neuquén (capital city): 306 km.

Distance from Buenos Aires City: 1447 km.

Department of Tourism: Gobernador Rodríguez St. - Tel: +54 2948 498314

Gas/Service station: Yes

Loncopué lies at the confluence of Agrio River and Loncopué stream, and is the head town of the homonymous district. It stands out primarily for its important livestock farming, mainly cattle, though there is also an interesting caprine breeding activity. Its charm is enhanced by the surrounding tourist attractions and its closeness to CaviahueCopahue.

Loncopué is framed by an appealing, unique landscape characterized by clusters of araucarias (monkey-puzzle trees) and streams, hills and fields of gentle slopes to the north and east, and by the Andes to the west.

Postal camino a Chenque Pehuén - Photo: Eric Schroeder

Loncopue History

During the military campaign known as “Conquest of the Desert”, a fort was settled in 1882 by Loncopué stream.

In 1884 the National Executive defines the area as a settlement for the territory’s capital, giving it the name “Campana Mahuida”.

The town was founded in 1897, on lands handed over by the government as a reward for the services rendered by Don Pedro Nazarre, first commissioner of the IV Expedicionary Force and the of the 1st Brigade that followed in the line of forts next to Neuquén and Agrio Rivers.

In May 1924, the government of the territory of Neuquen establishes the Commission for Development in Loncopué.

Loncopué Rural Area - Photo: Eric Schroeder

What to visit in Loncopue

Riscos Bayos

This rural establishment is dedicated to agrotourism. Half of its 1380 hectares are covered by rocks from the cliffs that can be found 25 km from Loncopué. Riscos Bayos have a peculiar geological characteristic: it is a layer made of volcanic ash from the Terciary, which was deposited on a dry bed, compacted by glaciers and eroded by wind, resulting in rock formations with ancient cypresses rooted in their peaks. This small forest survived not only winter snowstorms and strong winds but also summer droughts.

In this establishment tourists can visit the farm and appreciate its fruit plantations, the greenhouse, the smokehouse, the rabbit breeding area and the dairy goats’ cabin. Another option is to just walk along the farm and have the chance to photograph different birds, squirrels, beautiful cypresses and the majestic sunsets. At night, visitors are welcomed to taste grilled kids as well as some of the twenty-five specialties of typical dishes, different types of bread and appealing desserts. Mint tea and artisan liqueurs give a homely touch to end a delightful evening.

Riscos Bayos- Photo: Eric Schroeder

Riscos Bayos - Photo: Gerardo Franchi

Chenque Pehuén

The scenery is characterized by a glacial valley which is dominated by the presence of pehuenes (monkey-puzzle trees), volcanic rocks and the Sierra Baya (reaching 2554 m). This Sierra -presumed to have been a volcano- is full of sand and coirones, posing a challenge to those who enjoy difficult ascents.

Chenque Pehuén allows for different activities, such as photographic safaris, horse riding, trekking, hiking along interpretive trails, 4WD rides, mountain biking and camping.

Heading westward for about 10 km you will find a place called Nuco Pehuén, where the low-lying lands are home to rich vegetation and wild fauna. Apart from araucarias (monkey-puzzle trees), a great number of ñires and lengas can be seen.

Chenque Pehuén - Photo: Eric Schroeder

Agrio River

Its source lies in the snows of Copahue volcano, at about 2000 m high, where a small lake of approximately 6.5 km2 is formed. The river’s course continues for 200 km until it meets Neuquén River.

The river’s sulfur waters of bitter, acid taste give it its name. Agrio River and its surroundings are an alternative for locals and visitors who want to spend a nice, cool afternoon enjoying nature.

Río Agrio - Photo: Eric Schroeder

Hualcupén stream

Fishing and floating trips can be practised in this meltwater stream. The surrounding mountainous areas are apt for rappel and paragliding, and in the rocky formations some curious images have been naturally sculpted. Diverse wildlife can also be found there: eagles, condors, foxes, parrots, owls, bats, mountain lions and otters among others.

Arroyo Hualcupén - Photo: Eric Schroeder

Parva Hill

You can get to the foot of the hill on foot, on horseback, by bike or by 4WD pick-up truck. From there on, it is recommended to continue on foot to the top (1597 m high), where flora remains can be appreciated, petrified trees in particular. This place is a viewpoint from where to admire Copahue volcano, Sierra Baya and Loncopué.

Almaza Gulley

In this valley –located 14 km southeast of Loncopué- there is a small population centre dedicated to livestock rearing and agriculture for local consumption.

Getting there allows us to enjoy different scenery, with the typical country houses and corrals. A walk there gives the chance to come across fossilized eggs or snails.

Cajón de Almaza (Almaza Gulley) - Photo: Eric Schroeder

Loncopué stream and Yumu Yumu

Both streams come from melting snow in the Andes. Fishing in them is possible; among the species that can be caught are Rainbow trout, perch, Patagonian silverside and puyén.

Arroyo Yum Yum - Photo: Eric Schroeder<

Altas Torres

For hiking and nature lovers, the walk along Agrio riverbank will be truly enjoyable, with amazing rocky formations on the cliffs by the river. Going upstream, Agrio River meets Pichinco stream, over which there is a log that leads to the gulley from where the High Towers can be seen. These towers make up a set of eight cylindrical columns eroded by the strong winds and arranged in a circular pattern.

Agrio River Valley - Photo: Argentour.com

What to see in Northern Neuquén