Explore Córdoba and the Central Sierras
Lively CAPILLA DEL MONTE sits at the confluence of the rivers Calabalumba and Dolores against the bare-sloped Cerro Uritorco, at 1979m the highest peak of the Sierra Chica. It was a resort for Argentina’s bourgeoisie at the end of the nineteenth century, as testified by the many luxurious villas, some of them slightly or very dilapidated. These days it attracts more alternative vacationers, as you can tell from the number of hotels and restaurants calling themselves naturista, or back to nature. The town has little to offer in the way of sights, but it serves as an appealing base along the valley for treks into the mountains or for trying out hang-gliding and other pursuits. Central Plaza San Martín lies only a couple of blocks east of the RN-38, which runs through the west of the town, parallel to the Río de Dolores. From the plaza, Diagonal Buenos Aires, the busy commercial pedestrian mall, runs southeast to the quaint former train station on Calle Pueyrredón; it’s claimed to be South America’s only roofed street, an assertion nowhere else has rushed to contend. A number of safe bathing areas, or balnearios, can be found along the Río Calabalumba, including Balneario Calabalumba, at the northern end of General Paz, and Balneario La Toma, at the eastern end of Avenida Sabattini.
In addition to the fresh air, unspoilt countryside and splendid opportunities for sports pursuits, such as trekking and fishing, many visitors are also drawn to the area by claims of UFO sightings, “energy centres” and numerous local legends. One such legend asserts that when Calabalumba, the young daughter of a witch-doctor, eloped with Uritorco, the latter was turned into a mountain while she was condemned to eternal sorrow, her tears forming the river that flows from the mountainside. Incidentally, the Cerro Uritorco, the focus for Capillo del Monte’s supposed paranormal activity, is well worth the climb for the grandiose views across the valley to the Sierra de Cuniputo to the west. The steep clamber up a well-trodden path starts 3km from the Balneario Calabalumba, northeast of Plaza San Martín, and cuts through private property. Only part of the climb is shaded, so take water with you. You must set off between 8am and noon and start your return by 3pm in winter and 5pm in summer, which rather rules out opportunities for UFO-hunting.