San Martín is well suited for biking, and shops offer directions and maps. Bike rentals and tours are available at Andes Bike, at Avenida Costanera and Villegas (tel. 02972/15-552475 [cell]). You can rent a bike from Mountain Snow Shop, Av. San Martín 861 (tel. 02972/427728).
Horacio Matarasso is a passionate birder who hosts great bird-watching trips out of San Martín. Contact him at Aves Patagonia (tel. 02972/15-568427 [cell]; www.avespatagonia.com.ar).
Naviera Lácar & Nonthué, at the Costanera and main pier (tel. 02972/427380), offers year-round boat excursions on Lago Lácar. A full-day excursion to Hua Hum includes a short navigation through Lago Nonthué. The cost is $45 (£30); there's a restaurant in Hua Hum, or you can bring a picnic lunch. Naviera also operates three daily ferry services to the beautiful beaches of Quila Quina (which are packed in the summer) for $12 (£8.20). Naviera also rents kayaks for $10 (£6.80) per hour.
To raft the Hua Hum or the Aluminé rivers, get in contact with Tiempo Tours or Pucará.
For lake dives, including first-timers, stop by the lakefront Buceo de los Andes, Costanera and Obeid (tel. 02972/15-696838 [cell]).
Fishing Information & Licenses
Jorge Trucco, Ten. Col. Perez 662 (tel. 02972/429561; www.jorgetrucco.com), organizes day and overnight fishing expeditions to the Meliquina, Chimehuín, and Malleo rivers, among other areas. The other local fishing expert is Alberto Cordero (tel. 02972/421453; www.ffandes.com), who will arrange fishing expeditions around the area. He speaks fluent English; for more information, visit his website. You can pick up a fishing guide at the Oficina Guardafauna, General Roca 849 (tel. 02972/427091).
The new 18-hole golf course at the Chapelco Golf & Resort (tel. 02972/427713; www.chapelcogolf.com), just north of San Martín, was designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son. It's being called the "best course in Argentina" and is part of an impressive new resort and country club. A full round of 18 holes starts at $50 (£34).
Take a trip with some local gauchos at the Estancia Chapelco (tel. 02972/411253; www.chapelcogolf.com). A 2-hour trip costs $60 (£41). For $150 (£101), you get a 4-hour ride and a giant asado barbecue. The scenery is beautiful.
The dozens of lakes near San Martín practically call out for kayakers. Paralelo 40 Expediciones (tel. 02972/428213; www.paralelo40.com.ar) organizes full-day and half-day outings in touring or sea kayaks.
The guides at Lanín Expedition (tel. 02972/429799; www.laninexpediciones.com) have decades of experience and offer climbing and orientation courses; ascents of Volcán Lanín and Volcán Domuyo; and treks, climbs, and overnight trips in Lanín and Nahuel Huapi national parks. They have creative itineraries for mountaineering.
The principal winter draw for San Martín de los Andes is Cerro Chapelco, one of the premier ski resorts in South America. Just 20km (12 miles) outside town, Cerro Chapelco is known for its plentiful, varying terrain and great amenities. Although popular, the resort isn't as swamped with skiers as Bariloche is. Instead it draws more families. The resort sports one gondola (which takes skiers and visitors to the main lodge), five chairlifts, and five T-bars. The terrain is 40% beginner, 30% intermediate, and 30% advanced/expert. Chapelco offers excellent bilingual ski instruction, ski and snowboard rental, and special activities such as dog sledding. The resort has open-bowl skiing and tree skiing, and numerous restaurants with an alpine theme. To get here without renting a car, ask your hotel to arrange transportation or hire a remise (private taxi).
To drive to the resort from town, follow Route 234 south along Lago Lácar; it's paved except for the last 5km (3 miles). Lift tickets are quite reasonable and vary from low to high season. A 3-day ticket runs $90 to $158 (£61-£107) for adults, and $60 to $108 (£41-£73) for kids. During the summer, the resort is open for hiking and sightseeing, with lift access. For more information, call tel. 02972/427460 or visit www.sanmartindelosandes.com. The road is usually passable, but you may need chains during heavy snowfall; check before heading up to the resort.
For packages or guided trips with bilingual ski guides, contact PowderQuest tours (tel. 888/565-7158 in North America; www.powderquest.com).