Toponymy: From Mapundungun “huar huar”, onomatopoeic for boiling or bubbling water, and “co”, water or stream. “Boiling water stream”

Access: By Provincial Route 43

Temperatures in summer: Maximum average 28ºC/82ºF - Minimum average 11ºC/52ºF

Temperatures in winter: Maximum average 12ºC/53ºF - Minimum average 0ºC/32ºF

Distance from Neuquén (capital city): 513 km / 318 mi

Distance from Buenos Aires City: 1440 km / 895 mi

Municipality: Tel: +54 2948 421329

Gas/Service station: No

Climbers descending from Domuyo Peak - Photo:

Located at 1224 meters above sea level, Varvarco is 25 km from Las Ovejas and 63 km from Andacollo.

The Cordillera del Viento mountain range stands out from the flatter surrounding lands, merging with the superb colours and textures that frame the northwestward confluence of Neuquén and Varvarco rivers.

Also known as “Cradle of Singers from the North of Neuquén” and “Entrance gate to Domuyo” (4709 m.a.s.l / 15449 ft.), young and charming Varvarco is set to become the new North of Neuquén tourist development link.

This small town appears to be the last contact with civilization before continuing the way northward along PR 43, and is actually the gateway to one of the most enthralling trips in northern Neuquén.

Confluence of Neuquén River and Varvarco River - Photo: Silvio Fuentes

Varcaro History

In May 1879, commanding officer Patrocinio Recabarren, by order of Napoleón Uriburu, occupied Malvarco, becoming the first Argentinean civil authority in Neuquén. The valley favoured human settlement, as well as agricultural and livestock rearing activities.

The Commission for Development was established on October 16, 1973, a date that does not coincide with the town’s anniversary, which is celebrated on November 30, due to the opening date of the bridge over Neuquén River that allows communication with other towns.

What to visit in Varvarco

Domuyo Peak

Improperly referred to as volcano, it is the highest mountain in Patagonia (4709 mt./15449 ft.) and the only one in Argentina with glaciers outside the Andes mountain range. Acting as a guardian of the North of Neuquén, it is the source of countless tales and legends, and has always been regarded with respect and venerated by the local rural people as “Father Domuyo”.

More information: Domuyo

Climbers ascending Domuyo Peak - Photo:

Los Bolillos

Going 15 km northward Varvarco, along a winding road, you get to Los Bolillos, one of the many superb places in the North of Neuquén. The capriciously eroded rocky formations lie in the Valley of Varvarco River, with their red and yellow colours impregnating the scenery with charming views. From Los Bolillos, the winding flow of the river and the vastness of the place can be appreciated.

Within Los Bolillos, a set of massifs called Los Monjes stand out. These can be spotted the moment your car stops at the natural balcony, from where towers, needles and cones can be admired, as well as the magnificent river gulley, dotting some green amid the aridity.

Los Bolillos - Photo:

Colo Michi Có

This place is considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Argentina and America, not only for the quantity of the pieces displayed but also for their quality.

It is located 10 km from Varvarco on the west side of the imposing Cordillera del Viento at 1830 meters above sea level.

More information: Colo Michi Co

Petroglyphs on Colo Michi Có - Photo:

Ailincó Chapel

The chapel is built with adobe and has a dirt floor. It was built in the early ‘60s, but it was only a shed until priest Marcelo Gardín arrived to the area and suggested the possibility of turning it into a chapel. The building’s owners had brought from Chillán, Chile, an image of Our Lady of Lourdes, who soon attracted followers in the area.

The Chapel has become a meeting point for the local veranadores (shepherds who lead the transhumance), who, year after year renew their religious faith. Each February 11 the Day of Our Lady of Lourdes is celebrated.

Aguas Calientes

(Hot Waters) These hot springs are located 38 km from Varvarco, at 2000 m.a.s.l. Of volcanic origin, these Quaternary springs are characterized by the presence of mud and alkaline water with a pH of 7.7 of sodium chloride type, and with temperatures ranging from 40 to 80ºC.

More information: Aguas Calientes

Enjoying Aguas Calientes - Photo: Alejandra Melideo

Los Tachos

Not far from Aguas Calientes, the only active geyser in Argentina ejects water to more than four meters high. It must be traced until it is found hidden in the mountains, at the foot of Domuyo Massif. You can get there by car, and then walk for about half an hour by the side of the mountain to reach Los Tachos stream.

The geyser springs among the rocks at the bank of the stream, its hot water and plume of smoke reaching several meters high. There are other hot springs nearby, but none shows this force. They can be spotted by the intense reddish and yellowish algae that thrive on hot water, full of minerals and sulfur. It is amazing to see the geyser spouting water; a show nature performs only in a few places in the world.

Los Tachos - Photo:

What to see in Northern Neuquén