From a junction 11 kilometers north of Junín , northwesterly RP 60 leads to the Chilean border at Paso Mamuil Malal, where Lago Tromen marks the most convenient approach to the summit of Volcán Lanín. Because of the northeasterly exposure, hiking and climbing routes open earlier here than on the southern side, which lies partly in Chile.
Before climbing Lanín, obtain permission from the APN in San Martín , which will ask to inspect your gear, which should contain crampons, an ice ax, plastic tools, and appropriate clothing and peripherals (gloves, hats, insulated jackets, sunglasses, and sunscreen).
From the trailhead at the Argentine border, the Camino de Mulas route takes 5–7 hours to the Refugio Club Andino Junín de los Andes (altitude 2,600 meters; capacity 10 people); beyond this point, snow gear is essential.
The shorter but steeper Espina del Pescado route starts at the Argentine army’s Refugio Regimiento Infantería de Montaña (elevation 2,350 meters; capacity 15 people); it’s possible to approach either route from the Lago Huechulafquen side as well.
Both refugios are unfortunately dirty, and construction of a new one is still on the back burner; there is an improvised tent camp, with some services, in season.
About four kilometers north of Junín, RP 61 leads northwest along the Río Chimehuín and Lago Huechulafquen’s north shore for 52 kilometers to Puerto Canoas and Lago Paimún (at road’s end). En route, several trailheads lead north; the most interesting is the Cara Sur (Southern Face) approach to Volcán Lanín along the wooded Arroyo Rucu Leufú, which meets the trail coming south from Lago Tromen. Hikers not wishing to continue to Lanín’s base, about a four-hour walk, or the seven hours to the Regimiento de Infantería de Montaña (RIM) refugio can still stroll through the araucaria woodland; climbers should obtain permission from the APN ranger here.
From the Piedra Mala campground at Lago Paimún, a 30-minute hike goes to Cascada El Saltillo, a 20-meter waterfall. It’s no longer possible to walk around Lago Paimún, most of whose north shore is closed for environmental reasons, but for US$1 summer hikers can cross the La Unión narrows that separates Huechulafquen and Paimún on a balsa (cable platform). The rest of the year, it’s possible to hire a rowboat to get across; on the north shore a Mapuche family runs the basic Camping Ecufén.
From La Unión, the trail continues through coihue and pehuén forest for about five hours to a Mapuche-run campground at Aila, and another eight hours to the rustic Termas de Epulafquen. From Epulafquen, RP 62 returns to Junín de los Andes .
For nonhikers, the Catamarán José Julián (Avenida San Martín 643, San Martín de los Andes, tel. 02972/42-9264, www.catamaranjosejulian.com.ar ) offers a 90-minute lake excursion from Puerto Canoa over Huechulafquen, Paimún, and Epulafquen (US$15 pp) four or five times daily in summer, less frequently the rest of the year.
About 15 kilometers north of San Martín, Lago Lolog has several campgrounds and regular summer transportation; it’s particularly popular with windsurfers.
San Martín’s own Lago Lácar is wilder toward the Chilean border, where there is camping, hiking, and white-water rafting at the outlet of the Río Hua Hum.
In summer only, Transportes Ko Ko (tel. 02972/42-7422) runs several buses daily (US$1) to Lago Lolog from San Martín.
At the foot of Obeid in San Martín, Naviera Lacar y Nonthue (Avenida Costanera s/n, San Martín, tel. 02972/42-7380) sails six to eight times daily to Quila Quina (US$10 round-trip) on Lago Lácar’s south shore, and daily to Hua Hum (US$37 round-trip).