Nahuel Huapi Lake

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Nahuel Huapi Lake
View from the Golf course at Llao Llao.jpg
Location Los Lagos Department, Neuquén Province / Bariloche Department, Río Negro Province, Argentina, in Patagonia
Coordinates 41°05′25″S 71°20′08″W / 41.09028°S 71.33556°W / -41.09028; -71.33556Coordinates: 41°05′25″S 71°20′08″W / 41.09028°S 71.33556°W / -41.09028; -71.33556
Type Glacial lake
Primary inflows Huemul river
Correntoso river
Bonito river
Machete river
Primary outflows Limay River
Basin countries Argentina
Max. width 6.3 mi (10.2 km)
Surface area 205 sq mi (530 km2)
Average depth 515 ft (157 m)
Max. depth 1,522 ft (464 m) deeper places might exist
Water volume 83,35
Shore length1 222 mi (357 km)
Surface elevation 2,510 ft (770 m)
Islands Isla Victoria
Isla Huemul
Settlements San Carlos de Bariloche
Villa La Angostura
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Nahuel Huapi Lake (Spanish: Lago Nahuel Huapí) is a lake in the lake region of northern Patagonia between the provinces of Río Negro and Neuquén, in Argentina. The lake depression consists of several glacial valleys carved out along faults and Miocene valleys that were later dammed by moraines.

Nahuel Huapi lake, located within the Nahuel Huapi National Park, has a surface of 529 km2 (204 sq mi), rests 2,510 feet (770 m) over the sea level, and has a maximum measured depth (as of 2007) of 1,437 feet (438 m).

The June 2011 eruption of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex, in neighboring Chile, caused parts of the lake's surface to be blanketed in volcanic ash.[1]

During the Last Glacial Maximum of the Llanquihue glaciation the lake basin was wholly occupied by a glacier.[2]


The name of the lake derives from the toponym of its major island in Mapudungun (Mapuche language): "Island of the Jaguar (or Puma)", from nahuel, "puma (or jaguar)", and huapí, "island". There is, however, more to the word "Nahuel" - it can also signify "a man who by sorcery has been transformed to a puma" (or jaguar).


Lake Nahuel Huapi. The surrounding area became Argentina's first National Park in 1903

Its seven branches are named Blest (36 km²), Huemul (21.5 km²), de la Tristeza (18.5 km²), Campanario (7.9 km²), Machete, del Rincón and Última Esperanza. It is connected to other smaller lakes such as Gutiérrez, Moreno, Espejo and Correntoso. The deep-blue waters hold a number of islands, most notably Isla Victoria with 31 km².

A curious fact about the lake is that, despite being nowhere near any ocean and being at high altitude, it is also home for kelp gull and the blue eyed cormorant (Phalacrocorax atriceps), otherwise strictly marine birds.[3][4][5]

The lake’s crystal clear waters are very susceptible to climate changes and have an average surface temperature of 45 °F (7 °C), this makes it both beautiful and treacherous. Hypothermia is one of the risks bathers must undertake. Kayaking is a popular sport on this and adjacent lakes. The lake is also the starting point of the Limay River.


This lake harbors several introduced, non-native species of trout,[6] including rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout which attract anglers from the world over.


Lake Nahuel Huapi from space (the elongated, dark feature in the center of the image is the lake and in the bottom is seen the Limay River), North is to the right of the image, 1997.

At the beginning of the 20th century, and following an old aboriginal legend,[7] the rumor of a giant creature living in the deep waters of the lake took up. The creature is known locally as Nahuelito. Reported sightings of it predate Nessie and The Lost World (Arthur Conan Doyle).[8]

Local aborigines (Mapuche) called another creature el Cuero (leather) for its smooth skin. The neighboring lake Lago Lácar, has also been the site for accounts of another creature, more consistent with a plesiosaur, with aborigines describing it as a sea-cow with teeth all around it.

Members of the Buenos Aires Zoo visited the lake in 1922 trying to corroborate the reports of sightings of the prehistoric animal, but found no evidence to support the theory of such a creature.

Nahuel Huapi Lake
Sun over the Nahuel Huapi lake at 12:00 pm
Windy Nahuel Huapi

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Chilean volcano fills lake with ash". The Daily Telegraph. London. 16 June 2011. 
  2. ^ Heusser, C.J. (2004). Ice Age Southern Andes. Elsevier. pp. 25–29. 
  3. ^ "Blue-eyed Cormorant". Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  4. ^ "NAHUEL HUAPI NATIONAL PARK - ARGENTINA - National Parks in Argentina - Ripio Incoming Tour Operator Argentina". 1903-11-06. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  5. ^ Pamela C. Rasmussen The Condor Vol. 88, No. 3 (Aug., 1986), pp. 393-395. University of California Press
  6. ^ "La Fauna del Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi". Bariloche.Org. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  7. ^ Sam Mustafa (25 November 2010). "The Myth of Nahuelito: A Monstrous Symbol of Argentina". Argentina Independent. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  8. ^ "Lake Monsters: Nahuelito". Retrieved 2013-01-02.