The small oasis town of BARREAL, set alongside the Río Los Patos, 1650m above sea level, at the southern extreme of the Valle de Calingasta, is a fast up-and-coming, friendly place which makes a great base for adventure tourism in the surrounding area. The central square, Plaza San Martín, is the focal point, at the crossroads of Avenida Presidente Roca and General Las Heras. The town enjoys a pleasant climate, and the views to the west, of the cordillera peaks, including the majestic Cerro Mercedario, El Polaco, La Ramada and Los Siete Picos de Ansilta, seen across a beautiful plain, shimmering with onion and maize fields, are superb. Barreal makes a good base if you want to conquer Mercedario – one of the Andes’ most challenging yet climbable mountains. To the east you can climb up into the coloured mountains, or up to the Cima del Tontal, which affords one of the most famous of all views of the cordillera, as well as panoramas across to San Juan city.