SARMIENTO is a farming community, originally founded by the Welsh, the Lithuanians and another well-known immigrant group, the Boers, who fled here at the beginning of the twentieth century in an effort to escape the British after the Boer War. Although the people are friendly, the town is completely without charm and attracts relatively few visitors, despite the presence of the intriguing petrified forest nearby. The Museo Regional Desiderio Torres, housed in the old train station round the corner at 20 de Junio (Tues– Sun 1–7pm; free), with its sizeable collection of indigenous artefacts and dinosaur bones, plus displays of indigenous Mapuche and Tehuelche weavings, is a rather interesting site.
Sarmiento's main street, Avenida San Martín, runs off RP-20 at a right angle. Buses pull into the terminal at the far end, at San Martín and Avenida 12 de Octubre. The eager tourist office (daily April to mid-Dec 9am–8pm, mid-Dec to March 8am–11pm; T0297/489-8220, Eturismo@coloniasarmiento.gov.ar) is at the entrance to town on Regimiento de Infantería 25, just before the water-tower that marks the beginning of Avenida San Martín. They have a useful tourist map of the town centre and surrounding region. The Banco del Chubut, San Martín 756, buys and sells Chilean pesos.
For accommodation, by far the best option is AChacra Labrador, 10km west of town on RP-20 (T0297/289-3329, Web: www.hosterialabrador.com.ar ; Price: $90-150 with breakfast; dinner with wine $45; closed May– Sept). The congenial owners have modelled their farmhouse on a British-style B&B, and it has two charming rooms on a sixty-hectare estancia. In town, the best of a poor bunch is Hotel Ismar, Patagonia 248 (T0297/489-3293; Price: $45-75), which has clean, basic rooms off a courtyard. Camping del Bulgaro is the most attractive of the town's campsites, amongst a strand of poplars on the shores of Lago Musters (T0297/489-3114, Eelbulgaro@coopsar.com.ar; $10); there's a small shop selling provisions on site.
Despite the bland appearance, El Rancho Grande, on the corner of Estrada and San Martín (closed Mon), is a decent enough parrilla, while the steaks at Oliver, España 520 (Tues 7pm– midnight, Wed– Sun 9.30am–3pm & 7pm– midnight), are as good as dining gets in Sarmiento.