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There are no special sights in the city, save a 7m-high (23-ft.) cuckoo clock that, for no good reason, has become the city's symbol. Daytime activities focus on the lake and excursions into the surrounding hills. It's not clear why the city allows so many water activities in a reservoir. In any case, swimming, sailing, windsurfing, trout fishing, and -- at least, for the time being -- jet-skiing are all possible. Villa Carlos Paz is also well positioned for the many driving circuits through the Punilla Valley and into the mountains. These include treks to waterfalls, Jesuit ruins, and mountain estancias. In summer, buses disguised as trains run city tours. Bus Panorámico (tel. 354/143-4587) costs $4 (£2.70) and lasts 90 minutes. You can call directly for departure times or take them from Avenida San Martín and Belgrano, in front of the bus station, or ask at the tourism office. City tours are worthwhile if you don't have time to meander on your own; they're also a good way to get to know the lay of the land before venturing out on your own.

Parque Nacional Quebrada del Condorito

Quebrada del Condorito (www.quebradacondorito.com.ar) is a spectacular 800m (2,624-ft.) ravine and popular haunt for condors and their fledgling offspring learning to fly. It is the most eastern habitat in South America for this giant bird, and the area is littered with waterfalls, sierra grassland, and sloping hills. In 1995, the Quebrada and 40,000 hectares (98,900 acres) of the surrounding Pampa de Achala (a high-altitude plateau) became a national park.

The park's infrastructure is minimal, to say the least. There are three campsites, but they offer little in the way of facilities. Visitors enter the park from La Pampilla, 55km (34 miles) of stunning scenery southeast of Villa Carlos Paz. From two lookout posts, you can sometimes spy the birds bathing beneath waterfalls. The first is called balcón norte, and it's a 3-hour walk from the park entrance. The next vantage point is called balcón sur, which is another 2 hours into the park. Condors are shy birds, and sightings are not guaranteed, yet the area itself is a very special hiker's paradise. The park is home to 20 animal species unique to the area. Nativo Viajes (tel. 351/424-5341) runs an 8-hour trek, in Spanish only, through the park. Itati Viajes, 27 de Abril 220, Córdoba (tel. 351/422-5020; www.itati.com.ar), staffs English-speaking guides who conduct different kinds of tours, all involving trekking and bird-watching. One-day tours start at $50 (£34).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.