Nahuel Huapi Lake

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Nahuel Huapi Lake
View from the Golf course at Llao Llao.jpg
LocationLos Lagos Department, Neuquén Province / Bariloche Department, Río Negro Province, Argentina, in Patagonia
Coordinates41°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
TypeGlacial lake
Primary inflowsHuemul river
Correntoso river
Bonito river
Machete river
Primary outflowsLimay River
Basin countriesArgentina
Max. width6.3 miles (10.1 km)
Surface area205 sq mi (530 km2)
Average depth515 ft (157 m)
Max. depth1,522 feet (464 m) deeper places might exist
Water volume83.35 cubic kilometres (20.00 cu mi)
Shore length1222 miles (357 km)
Surface elevation2,510 ft (770 m)
IslandsIsla Victoria
Isla Huemul
SettlementsSan 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 tourist center of Bariloche is on the southern shore of the lake.

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
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.

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) above the sea level, and has a maximum measured depth (as of 2007) of 1,437 feet (438 m).

The lake depression consists of several glacial valleys carved out along faults and Miocene valleys that were later dammed by moraines.

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 an area of 31 km², and Isla Huemul.

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.


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.

Hitler conspiracy theory[edit]

The premise of the book Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler, by British authors Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams, is that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun did not commit suicide in 1945, but actually escaped to Argentina. According to the book, the two lived for many years in a Bavarian-styled mansion at Inalco, a remote and barely accessible spot at the northwest end of Lake Nahuel Huapi, where Hitler died in February 1962[9][10]. This theory of Hitler's flight to Argentina has been dismissed by mainstream historians, including by Guy Walters.[11]


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.
  9. ^ Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler, 2011 Simon Dunstan & Gerrard Williams,
  10. ^ Walters, Guy (28 October 2013). "Did Hitler flee bunker with Eva to Argentina, have two daughters and live to 73? The bizarre theory that's landed two British authors in a bitter war". Mail Online. London: The Daily Mail. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  11. ^ Dewsbury, Rick; Hall, Allan; Harding, Elanor (18 October 2011). "Did Hitler and Eva Braun flee Berlin and die (divorced) of old age in Argentina?". Mail Online. London: The Daily Mail. Retrieved 28 May 2014.