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Although the name may have tricked you into thinking that you would be heading to some volcanic paradise, this is actually not the case. El Volcán, surprisingly, is not home to any volcanoes, but rather is a tricksy little town. Located in the province of San Luis in central Argentina, El Volcán is a small village tucked among the hills in this arid part of the country.
The region’s hills and valleys are called the Sierras Puntanas and create a natural wonderland of rivers, streams, rock pools and natural swimming holes that draw in the tourists in the summer. However, don’t expect El Volcán to be overrun with visitors—it is very much a low-key and relaxed holiday haven for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of bigger coastal towns and the heat of the big cities during the summer months.
The main focus of attention in the area is the Volcán River that bisects the village and turns downstream into a series of bathing pools. The most famous of these is the Balneario “La Hoya,” a waterfall-fed rock pool that is accessible by a set of stone steps, perfect for cooling off and getting away from the stifling summer heat in the afternoon. This particular pool has a number of man-made elements, giving it all of the infrastructure tourists need to explore and really enjoy it. Other bathing pools include Salto Colorado, El Osito, and El Badén, all of which can be enjoyed during a day trip or over the course of a longer stay.
There are plenty of cabins available in and around El Volcán, so it is worthwhile renting one for a few days to really get the most out of your time in this idyllic and charming area. There is only really one hotel, Hotel El Gran Volcán, which is something of a historic monument in the town, notable for its English-style architecture and for kick-starting the local tourism industry. It is only open seasonally, so be sure to call in advance. The village has a few restaurants, but the food choices are limited, so if you decide to stay, make sure you are equipped if you don’t want to eat out or have any specific dietary requirements.
The town is also known for its early adoption of L.G.B.T.-focused tourism. It was the first place in Argentina to welcome and encourage L.G.B.T. couples and families, ensuring that they were made to feel welcome by the village, which is something quite pioneering for a such a small place.