During the day, the lovely weather prompts you to go for a walk along Barreals tree-lined streets such as the “Lover´s Street” and the “Willow Street”, with the sound of the water rushing along the water channels next to them. During each afternoon the sunset over the Andes offers magnificent views, and during the nights we may enjoy an open air barbecue under a sky covered with stars. Another way to go around the town is with bicycles allowing extending the range of our rides.
There are lots of activities and outings that can be done in the surroundings, which are described next:
Visit to the Barreal Blanco and windcar ride
The Barreal Blanco, 13 miles south of Barreal, popularly known as the Pampa del Leoncito, is a flat clay surface which was once the bed of a sea. It is about 8 miles long by 3 miles, and is known as the best place in Argentina for the practice of windcar riding. These windcars are driven by the wind to full speed (the record is 80 mph) along an incredible landscape with the Andes peaks as a background.
Almost all year round, on the afternoon, at about 4:00 pm, the “Conchabado” (hired) wind starts blowing. This is the name given to the wind due to its punctuality. Rogelio Toro may offer you the chance of riding a windcar or begin learning to land sail.
The quiet streets of Barreal can be travelled across on a horseback (by renting horses per hour), or agree an expedition with a guide who can escort you to incredible places. One interesting option is the "Mirador del Colorado", a three hour ride to the mountain range, that Tato Moreira makes daily with his horses. During the trip you'll encounter different types of terrain as you travel up and down the winding trails. You can take pictures of indigenous drawings from the Incan age and visit the oldest Christian cemetery in the area. A more defying tour is to the site known as “La Teta Colorada”, also in the nearby mountain ridge that offers startling views of the Mercedario and Aconcagua mountains
Astronomical complex “El Leoncito”
The Astronomical complex “El Leoncito” (CASLEO) is located within an area named “El Leoncito”, which has one of the clearest skies in the world, with more than 250 clear nights per year and an uncontaminated atmosphere. The CASLEO is located 25 miles southeast of Barreal, in front of the Barreal Blanco and its main telescope is 7500ft above sea level on the Tontal Mountains. It is one of the most important observatories in the South Cone.
It is possible to pay a visit during the day, but without doubt the most interesting program is a guided visit at night. Visitors should arrive on their own means at 5pm, where they will be greeted by a guide, who will show them the facilities. During the tour, which lasts some 40 min, the guide will tell you the history and type of research which is done in CASLEO. Then a dinner is served, and later on, if the climatic conditions allow, with the help of professionals you may watch through a telescope the celestial objects that show up (planets, moon, double stars and galaxies).
Rafting and Canoeing
Another defying activity that can be done is rafting on inflatable boats. A particularly interesting expedition is the descent starting at “La Junta”, some 20 miles southwest of Barreal, not far away from “Las Hornillas”. It will lead you along the white waters of the Los Patos river between steep natural walls of a canyon.
4x4 expedition to Laguna Blanca (White Lake)
It is unforgivable to visit Barreal without having done a complete day 4x4 expedition to Laguna Blanca. During the trip you will see beautiful landscapes, including the bridge at Las Juntas, Estancia del Río Blanco and Refugio El Molle. Ascending on a high winding mountain road and crossing six times the White Stream we finally reach Laguna Blanca, at a height of 10,500ft. From this incredible spot you will have a privileged view of the Mercedario Mountain and it is possible to spot the fauna of the area, including guanacos and condors that fly trough the skies.
4x4 expedition to the national park El Leoncito and the Tontal
Another unforgettable 4x4 tour is a visit to the national park “El Leoncito” that allows us to reach the highest point of El Tontal mountain ridge, at more than 12000ft. The ascent starts from Barreal, passing along the Astronomical complex “El Leoncito”.
During the trip you will have incredible views of the Andes mountain ridge and it is usual to meet herds of guanacos and other fauna of the area.
The Rivers of San Juan have been mostly fished by locals and some other visitor interested in the curiosities of argentine fishing. These waters are populated with rainbow, brown and fontinalis trouts that offer plenty of fun, opening an alternative touristic horizon. The main fishing areas near Barreal are the Blanco, Los Patos, Calingasta, Castaño and San Juan rivers. Without doubt, the autumn is the best time to fish these areas, being March, April and May the most advisable months for most of these rivers. Fishing during summer, with the exception of the Blanco River, is not to be recommended because of the height and muddiness of the water flows.
Tour to the Alcázar and Hilario ruins
A tour that can be done by car from Barreal is towards Calingasta following a circuit that leads us across the village of Tamberías, with its vineyards and groves, and the town of Calingasta, where you may visit its mueum and the nearby rivers. The trip back leads us to the Hilario ruins, an establishment founded by Sarmiento to melt the minerals of the nearby metal mines. Finally we may visit the geological formations of the Alcazar, which resembles a castle. They belong to the same geological folding as Ischigualasto, exhibiting intricate and monumental shapes.
ROGELIO TORO WINDCAR: Unforgettable experience assisted by experts. Tel: 0264-15 6717 196 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
DON LISANDRO: 4x4 truck expeditions - Trekking in the mountains - Tel: 0264-154680346 / 0264-154393129 email@example.com
FORTUNA E.V.T.: Expeditions Los Patos valley, Los Andes crossing, 4x4 expeditions. Tel: 02648-441004 – 0264-154040913 o 154040914
MAXI EXPEDITIONS: Expeditions to the El Leoncito, Alcazar, Hilario ruins - Tel: 02648-441206 / 0264- 15 4560 400 / firstname.lastname@example.org
TATO EXPEDITIONS: Horseback riding. Guided expeditions. Sulki rentals.
Tel: 02648-441147 / 0264-15 4563 122
ADRIAN NEIRA – Horseback riding in Barreal –Andes crossing – 0264-15-4002774
TERRITORIOS ANDINOS: Barreal Blanco - 4x4 expeditions. Tel: +54 264 5032008 / 4772009 email@example.com www.territoriosandinos.com.ar
CONDOR EXPEDITIONS: Expeditions to the Colorado valley. Mercedario. Rafting. Tel: 02648-441144 / 0264-15 4157 157
DON ELIZARDO: Expeditions, horseback riding. Tel: 0264-15 6732 247
EL MERCEDARIO EXPEDITIONS: Touristic tours, ruins, Alcazar. Tel: 264-5090907 / www.elmercedario.com.ar / firstname.lastname@example.org
BARREAL RAFTING: Adventure in Los Patos river - Cell: 0261-15-5514232 /
0264-15-5307764, email: email@example.com
Astronomical complex “El Leoncito” http://www.casleo.gov.ar/visita.php
0264-4213653 o 0264-4273653 firstname.lastname@example.org