Why the Punilla? And specifically La Cumbre?
Why is the Punilla, and specifically La Cumbre, one of the most desirable areas in the world in which to live?
Reason #1 – Remarkably healthy environment
During the 1940’s and 1950’s the Rand Corporation and the Carnegie Foundation funded research to find the healthiest places in the world in which to live. Their criteria was not only longevity but a superior quality of life (read: disease free.)
The Punilla had the reputation for healthy living. People did live longer, were relatively disease free, and the quality of the air and water was well-known. However, the Punilla caught the attention of the world community because of an astounding event that was taking place.
Polio and tuberculosis had devastated the lives of millions of people worldwide. Sanitariums were set up all over the world to house people with these types of diseases and disabilities.
A very large sanitarium in the Punilla garnered much attention due to the fact that not only were people surviving these dreaded diseases but were actually getting well. Attention to why this was happening produced mostly speculation. Was it the climate? The mountain air that was fresh and clean? Was it the water that came from springs? (Rainwater that has seeped through the quartz and mineral rich mountain.) Was it the produce grown in the nutrient-rich soil of the valley?
One thing for certain was the amazing results. No matter what the reason, the Punilla was now ‘famous’ for its healthy living and lifestyle.
Reason #2 – The beauty
The Punilla is a valley. The northern half lies below the highest peak in the Sierra Chicas. It is also the greenest part of the valley. Year-round lush green foliage, streams and waterfalls, as well as valley and mountain scenery abound. The area is one of the most visited vacation spots in all of Argentina.
Reason # 3 – The tranquil, peaceful setting
The southern half of the Punilla is populated with bigger cities that swell to several times their normal size during the tourist seasons. Whereas the northern part of the Punilla is sparsely populated, scattered with quaint villages and towns, living life at a much slower pace. La Cumbre is the quintessential town.
Reason #4 – The sophisticated yet easy-going lifestyle
In La Cumbre, and the surrounding area, especially to the north in Cruz Chica and Cruz Grande, well-heeled Europeans, Americans, and Portenos (the citizens of Buenos Aires) own mansions dotted across the mountain hillsides and throughout the valley. This wealth and influence transforms the culture into a more sophisticated, yet easy-going lifestyle. Upscale restaurants, cultural functions (art, music, literature, performing arts), as well as major festivals entertain the locals. Many locals are bilingual and speak English. La Cumbre was founded by the British, who built the railroads in Argentina over 100 years ago.
Reason #5 – The sports activities
Some of the major sporting events that take place in La Cumbre draw crowds into the thousands. One of the most famous races in the world, “The Dakar” (formerly called the Paris to Dakar Rally) goes through La Cumbre in January every year. The World Rally Championships stages a yearly race in La Cumbre. Also, the World Championships in paragliding holds an annual event in La Cumbre. Former world champion paraglider Andy Hediger gives lessons and tandem flights. Ultra-light flights, skydiving, and other aeronautic sports are popular as well. 4-wheeling in the mountains, dirt biking, mountain climbing, repelling, trekking, horseback riding, and other mountain activities abound. La Cumbre is home to one of the top golf courses in Argentina, built by the British 100 years ago.
Reason #6 – The friendly people
Despite what many people would think, La Cumbre is not a village of snobby rich people. The rich and famous come here to live a quiet and peaceful life, cherishing their privacy. It is not uncommon to be sitting outdoors at anyone of the many cafes next to a famous musician, artist, soccer player, movie star, or other well-known personality. The locals are used to the notoriety of its well-known citizens. The ambience and tranquility of the village lends itself to a very laid back lifestyle.
Reasons #7 – St. Paul’s School
La Cumbre has two private bilingual schools. St. Paul’s is rather famous when it comes to its alumni. Some of the world’s most well known movie stars, sports figures, politicians, and successful businessmen have attended school at St. Paul’s. American expats can place their children in St. Paul’s knowing that they are getting one of the best educations possible in all of Latin America.
Reason #8 – the Ideal Climate
La Cumbre has a 4-season climate. However, each of the seasons are extremely mild. The summers are pleasant with highs in the 80’s and low 90’s, with 70’s not unusual. The lows at night in the summer always cool things off, with average temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s. During the short winter months (June, July, and August), the average daytime highs are in the 60’s and 70’s and with occasional 50’s. A high in the 80’s in not uncommon. Lows dip into the 40’s and 30’s most nights, with around 10 – 20 nights dropping below freezing. Rarely does the temperature get much colder than 25 degrees, and just for a few hours late into the night.
Late spring into early fall is the “rainy” season, with an average of one nice rain per week. The winter months are relatively dry.
There are no tornadoes in Argentina. And rarely is there any violent weather in the La Cumbre area. On a rare occasion a thunderstorm may produce small pea size hail.
Reason #9 – No natural disasters
Unlike much of the world that suffers from one form of natural disaster or another, the La Cumbre area does not have natural disasters; damaging earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, blizzards, tornadoes, wind storms, floods, forest fires or prairie fires, avalanches… NOTE: On a rare occasion (once or twice per decade) an earthquake in Chile near the Argentine border (500 miles away) can be felt as a small jolt.
Reason #10 – the Natural Environment
Especially in the northern half of the Punilla, locals are very proud of their village, and make efforts to keep it clean, healthy, and natural. As stated earlier, springs abound everywhere in the Punilla, as the rainwater filters through the quartz and mineral rich mountain, bursting through rock formations as springs. This water is bottled from spring sources up and down the Punilla and sold throughout the country. La Cumbre was one of the first communities in Argentina to ban plastic sacks and implement other eco-friendly policies to protect the beautiful natural environment.
Reason #11 – the Business Opportunities
Because of the huge volume of tourists that come into the area, business opportunities arise that are not available in other communities. Tourists spend a large amount of money on services and goods that can benefit the savvy entrepreneur.
Reason #12 – The Anglo-English History and Culture
For European and American expats, living in a community that is steeped in British history is a big plus. The English language is spoken by many of the residents. Generations of British descendants live and own businesses in the village. British/European culture is vibrant, sophisticated, artistic, and familiar.