Barreal frees your mind unlike any other place. As you get out of your car (or the bus) a feeling of peace seems to take a hold of you and doesn’t let go till well after you have left. I don’t know if it’s the crisp mountain air, bright pink sunsets or uninterrupted view of the Andes, but Barreal is the place to come if you are seeking true disconnection from the fast lane.
Situated exactly in between San Juan and Mendoza, Barreal is a small town in the heart of Calingasta Valley, Argentina. Thanks to its proximity to the river Los Patos it is a green oasis at the barren foothills of the Andes, where life happens at a slow pace. Wandering through its dirt back lanes lined with weeping willows it is almost as if you step back in time. Homes are made out of adobe with tied horses patiently waiting for their next ride into town, colourful laundry lines swaying in the breeze.
If you are seeking a bit more adventure then Barreal can also satisfy your needs. Nearby is La Pampa Del Leoncito. On its white, dried lake bed you can practice the peculiar sport of windcar sailing, or carrovelismo. From December to March you can raft or kayak down the river. In addition, Barreal is the starting point for expeditions to cross the Andes by horse or mountain climb the Mercedario peak.
For a more laid-back experience, take a stroll down Calle de los Enamorados, or Lover’s Lane. You can also ride up to the Mirador del Colorado by horse for a spectacular view. A boutique bodega has recently opened where you can have a wine tasting by appointment only. De Mi Campo produces gourmet herbs and aromatics that are sold around the world and has a small shop at its entrance. When evening falls just sit back and enjoy the starry spectacle in the sky with a good glass of Argentinian wine.
Barreal is one of the best kept secrets in Argentina and probably one of its top destinations. Unfortunately, copper has been found in the mountains and mining explorations are currently being undertaken. While this has brought some good investments to Barreal, there are potential plans for the town to be developed as a base if the mine is further developed. So, come and visit this unique destination before it is changed irreversibly and find out why we held our dream wedding here.
For such an isolated place Barreal has several lovely inns and hostels. My favourite boutique accommodations are La Querencia, Posada de Los Patos and Posada San Eduardo (no website). All three have great gardens and pools to relax by.
The roads from both Mendoza and Barreal are not ideal, so, just in case, come prepared with a spare tire and the knowledge of how to change it. Also, make sure that your tank is full, there is only one gas station in Barreal and on occasion it has been known to run out. That being said, both routes can very well be done with a normal (not 4×4) car using common sense and reduced speed. Public transportation is only available from San Juan with El Triunfo. They have daily departures and tickets can be bought at the bus terminal. Alternatively, your accommodation can probably help you organize shared or private transfers. A suggestion is to make a loop, starting in San Juan and ending in Mendoza, or vice versa. Having a car in Barreal is nice to have, but you can also easily get around by bike.
De Mi Campo