Lively CAPILLA DEL MONTE, 17km north of La Cumbre, 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 now 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 few sights, but serves as an appealing base for treks into the mountains or hang-gliding and other pursuits. The 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 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 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 myth 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.

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