On Route 52: Canota monument, Villavicencio Natural Reserve, winding road, “El Balcón”, “Mirador del Aconcagua”, Jesuit Ruins, a typical rural tourism as “Bella Vista”, Paramillos, Darwin Petrified Forest, “Agua de la Zorra”, Mt Tunduqueral.
Full of San Martín’s history, this is the route that part of the Army of the Andes travelled along on their Campaign to Liberate Chile and Perú. An important memory of that heroic deed is the Canota Monument. We will quiver while going up the steep winding road that will take us to a spot with a privileged view of the Villavicencio Hotel. This hotel, today sadly fallen into disuse, is famous for the label of the homonymous mineral water. It offers us a great architectural and natural beauty sight. The quebrada has been well maintained and its gardens are kept in good condition to create a clean air space for a tour to see the winding road, visit the chapel, and for those who wish so, climb the mountainsides through simple paths.
Vaquerias Park Ranger Station
It’s the entrance area to Villavicencio Natural Reservation. Its name comes from the old farm where they raised cows supplying milk to the hotel while it was in operation.
Here we can find an Interpretation Centre which shows the flora and fauna of the region.
The way up to it turns winding and goes through an area of strong relief, which is full of springs that feed numerous cattle spots. The most important of these springs is the one located at Kilometre 47 and it comprises the Villavicencio Hot Springs.
They are located at 1800 metres above sea level. Its mineral water, excellent for drinking, is famous for its healing properties. It is bottled here, and then commercialized throughout the country. Villavicencio mineral water comes from these springs.
Although the site was already known in aboriginal times, its therapeutic values spread in 1902.
The hotel was built in 1941 in Norman style. For a long time it received a very select tourism. It is currently being restored.
The Grand Hotel’s park, located 400 metres from it, is excellent to take walks. Thick groves, nostalgic bowers with ivy and wet winding paths make up the picturesque image of the building, placed on the amazing landscape of the quebrada.
The water comes out with an average temperature that ranges between 25° and 32°. It not only has specific properties due to the minerals it contains, but it can also be used as thermal water. It has amazing therapeutic properties for numerous illnesses
In the year 2001 the area was declared a “Provincial Natural Reserve.” It occupies approximately 67000 hectares of the purest foothills. The aim is to preserve the native fauna and flora, as they are extremely rich in species and specimens.
Villavicencio Winding Road
The following 30 kilometres are called Variante Villavicencio or Camino del Año because on this road there are more than 365 ascending switchbacks, showing stunning landscapes. This trail ascends steadily since Snails Step up Paramillos Cross, this was the old route to Chile. It is sometimes interrupted by landslides that due to big rains or storms slide stones and earth on the road.
Mirador Los Paramillos
Located 25 km from the Interpretation Center, is the highest point of the road. It is 3100 meters high and is the viewpoint. From here is a view of 200 miles of central mountains, including Aconcagua.