In Neuquén araucarias grow naturally from Copahue in the north to San Martin de los Andes to the south, extending into higher density in Aluminé department, where it also was turned to stone remnant of an ancient forest of Araucaria, the only fossil of its kind of that record.
In the Andean forest, Araucaria is almost always associated with other native species (oak, cane colihue, coihue, ñire). Therefore it is particularly beautiful solitary presence at an eastern point in Primeros Pinos, 200 km west of the city of Neuquén, between 1,500 and 2,000 meters above sea level.
To know in all its splendor the pehuén you must travel a circuit with a triangle form, formed north by Route No. 13 of Primeros Pinos, west of PR No. 23 that accompanies the source of the Alumine river and southwest by the PR No. 46 of the beautiful hill of Rahue. If you arrive the region by plane, the triangle can be covered from Neuquén, San Martín de los Andes or Zapala. We recommend taking at least two days and enter a route and return through the other (13 or 46), with an intermediate stop in the town of Alumine or a little further north on Villa Pehuenia beside lakes Moquehue and Aluminé .
200 km west from Neuquén and 45 from Zapala (through NR No. 22 and junction of PR No. 13) are the first giants. Within a few kilometers the traveler will rise from 1,000 to 2,000 meters in the area known as "La Atravezada", one of the peaks of mountain ranges The Chachil. From Zapala will see the shape of this formation that is higher than the Andes at the same latitude.
In Primeros Pinos asphalt ends and continue along the gravel road, winding with cliffs, which requires all the wisdom of the world to follow almost a straight line to the mountains. Up to Villa Pehuenia are 100 km declining and through the majestic Araucaria forest in the Kilca and Sainuco area.
Soon after crossing the stream Kilca you will see the advancement of the sand on the Pampa de Lonco Luán, where the desert devours the earth. So, you will have in front your eyes the top of the Icalma volcano (Chile) where is expected to approaching Villa Pehuenia. You will also see the green strip that accompanies the final stretch of the Litrán river, down from the north and leave shortly after their waters into the lake Aluminé. Once in Pehuenia, the encounter with the lake Aluminé is unforgettable, especially when the sun cuts the shape of Araucaria on top of the stone mountain like sculpted.
The most eastern shore of this lake is open and is charming to surround it on the north, continue straight a few kilometers to the foot of the mountains where the forest becomes more dense and associated with other native species. After passing through the tourist village, a few kilometers away the lake Moquehue will delight you with the forest that reaches its coast. Then you will have already reached the very heart of the forest of araucaria, with those branches that emerge from the top like plumes as crazy carousel.
An unforgettable view of this area is from the Batea Mahuida, an extinct volcano in which mouth is formed a lagoon. It is necessary to go few kilometers of gravel road to get to this natural viewpoint from which we will see the emerging of the Bio Bio river into a lake and the volcano Icalma in Chile, and at his feet lakes Moquehue and Aluminé connected by a narrow deep water with their kidney shape typical of glacial formations.
Villa Pehuenia has infrastructure to stay in any season or you can stay in Aluminé, a village of no more than five thousand inhabitants, 50 km to the south. These two locations can join through the PR No. 11 accompanying the mountains and let you see the lakes Ñorquinco and Pulmarí on a journey of 100 km from Moquehue, or alternative much shorter that allows border for 50 km the Pulmarí river from rising in the lake of the same name to the village in the south. The mighty river appears and disappears from the view of the passenger in the middle of the rocky mountain which rises on either side of the road.
This same stretch of river, appreciated for its rapids can be covered in a rubber raft. Here you can hire the tour. A few kilometers from the city is located the pehuén fossil forest, as well as the rock of Abra Ancha with engravings. These sites are accessed with local guides.
Thus, we have joined Zapala and Aluminé by the northern route making 150 kilometers or a little more if we ventured from the Batea Mahuida. A different and equally beautiful landscape is known by the way Rahue, with the cost of countless curves and reverse from the top may be seen the perfect cone of the volcano Lanin and Villarica volcano fumarole (Chile) on clear days.
Rahue is a gorge of rocks with shapes and colors that change with the seasons. Nature is generous and can bless a trip with the flight of condors at the height of the Espinazo del Zorro or the viewpoint of the Yao-Yao, where purple and green clays of copper in the mountains paint a unique landscape in Patagonia reaching the 2839 meters.
By Rahue route you see the shape of Chachil range. Soon the mountain gives way to the plateau, accompanied by the lake Blanca, important stop of pink flamingos migrating to African lakes. 25 km from Zapala is Laguna Blanca National Park which ranger can guide you through the wide area.
If you choose this proposal does not forget that you must have fuel on Zapala, Villa Pehuenia or Aluminé because there are no gas stations on the routes suggested for this tour.