Del Desierto Lake

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Del Desierto Lake
Lago Desierto 182.jpg
Del Desierto Lake is located in Santa Cruz Province
Del Desierto Lake
Del Desierto Lake
Location if Santa Cruz Province, ARG
Del Desierto Lake is located in Argentina
Del Desierto Lake
Del Desierto Lake
Location in Argentina
LocationLago Argentino Department, Santa Cruz Province
Coordinates49°02′13″S 72°51′49″W / 49.03694°S 72.86361°W / -49.03694; -72.86361 (Laguna del Desierto)Coordinates: 49°02′13″S 72°51′49″W / 49.03694°S 72.86361°W / -49.03694; -72.86361 (Laguna del Desierto)
Primary inflowsDiablo river
Primary outflowsLas Vueltas river
Basin countriesArgentina
Surface elevation506 metres (1,660 ft)

The Del Desierto lake or Lake of the Desert (called Lago del Desierto in Argentina and Laguna del Desierto in Chile) is a lake, located in the Lago Argentino Department, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. The lake, located near the mount Fitz Roy and the O'Higgins/San Martín Lake, has been the subject of a territorial dispute between Argentina and Chile, escalating to a small battle on 6 November 1965 when 40 to 90 members of the Argentine Gendarmerie fought against four Chilean Carabineros resulting the lieutenant Hernán Merino killed and a sergeant injured, both members of Carabineros, the dispute was solved favourably for Argentina in 1994 with an arbitration.


Del Desierto Lake, with Mount Fitz Roy in the background.

The region is a valley around the Laguna del Desierto (Spanish for "Lake of the Desert") located at 49°02′13″S 72°51′49″W / 49.03694°S 72.86361°W / -49.03694; -72.86361 (Laguna del Desierto) north and east of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (Spanish Campo de Hielo Sur), only accessible from the Chilean side from the North (approx. 30 km south of Villa O'Higgins). It is accessible without obstacles from the Argentine side.

The valley is located between the Martínez de Rozas Range at the east and the (east) glaciers of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field at the west side and the lake get the waters of many rivers from the range and the glaciers and its waters flow through the de las Vueltas River (south side), to the Viedma lake and then to the Atlantic Ocean.

The contended area was about 500 km2 of territory.


In 1921, Chilean settlers began to settle in the area, and two years later, Chilean settlers and explorers discovered the lake. The Chilean settler Vicente Ovando Vargas[1] began settling in the southern sector of the territory in association with the Scotsman Donald Mc Cloud, who exploited lands neighboring the Laguna del Cóndor. Father Alberto María de Agostini pointed out the settlement on the northern shore of the Chilean Ismael Sepúlveda and his wife Sara Cárdenas Torres, in the 1930s.[2] In 1935, the official Héctor Puchi, from the Magallanes Land Office, visited the area and gave provisional title to Ismael. Explorers F. Reichert and Ilse Von Renzel stayed with the Mansilla family in 1932. Chile granted other land titles in 1934 and 1937.[3]


The map shows the dispute between Chile & Argentina.

The area between landmark 62 on the southern shore of Lake O'Higgins/San Martín and Mount Fitz Roy, where Lake Del Desierto is located, was the subject of a border conflict between Chile and Argentina due to poor information about the area when the 1881 Treaty was signed between Argentina and Chile. This conflict climaxed with the death of Chilean Lieutenant Hernán Merino in 1965. The dispute was resolved on October 21, 1994 by the decision of an arbitration tribunal, which ruled in favor of the Argentine argument in an area of 481 square kilometers that was in dispute. The decision was validated on October 13, 1995, when the same tribunal rejected Chile's request for reconsideration.

After the resolution of the dispute, the name Laguna del Desierto continued to be used in Chile, although in Argentina the name Lago del Desierto was consolidated.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hugo Ortiz de Filippi (April 9, 1991). "PROBLEMA LIMÍTROFE CON ARGENTINA EN LAGUNA DEL DESIERTO. OFICIOS". Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  2. ^ Alberto María de Agostini (1937). Andes Patagónicos.
  3. ^ René Peri Fagerström (1994). A la sombra del Monte Fitz Roy.