View of the lake from San Bernardino
|Primary outflows||Salado River|
|Max. length||14.9 mi (24.0 km)|
|Max. width||3.7 mi (6.0 km)|
|Surface area||55.9 km2 (21.6 sq mi)|
|Average depth||10 feet (3.0 m)|
|Settlements||San Bernardino, Ypacarai & Areguá|
Ypacaraí Lake is a major water body located in Paraguay about 25 km east of Asunción. The lake lies in the western part of the Asunción-Sapucai-Villarrica graben, a tectonic depression of the Mesozoic age, and drains to the northwest through the Salado River into the Paraguay River. The lake is surrounded by three cities: Aregua, Ypacarai and San Bernardino, the latter two being located on its shores.
The lake became widely known because of the song “Memories of Ypacarai”, written by Demetrio Ortiz. It is one of Paraguay's two main lakes, and the site of many leisure activities. During summertime, locals and tourists enjoy its beaches and the great landscape.
Today, the lake is the most polluted one in Paraguay as a result of the proliferation of toxic algae or cyanobacteria, and the government has accordingly banned access to its waters.
Ypacarai Lake area is about 90 km2 (35 sq mi) and its length is 24 km (15 mi) from north to south and 6 km (3.7 mi) from east to west. The average depth of the water is about 3 metres (9.8 ft).
The lake outflows into the Salado River, that itself enters the Paraguay River, and receives water from various brooks, such as Yagua Resau, Yuquyry, Puente Estrella y Pirayu.
The weather is mainly warm. Sunny days are frequent. Temperature vary between 20 and 38 °C (68 and 100 °F) during summer and between 3 and 25 °C (37 and 77 °F) during winter.
In early days, this lake's name was Tapycua. There are several versions that could explain the meaning of its name. Some affirm that Ypacarai means 'holy lake', because of the legend that tells that Luis de Bolaños blessed the place around 1600. Others tell that Ypacarai is a confusion of other words in Guarani, the outcome being similar to what happened with the word kangaroo, originally from Australia.
Art and culture
La cuenca: The Artisans Center offers a fair where local artists show their work.
Estacion A: This is a culture center where visitors and tourists can obtain information.
La Casa de la Cultura: This is a historical museum, where some temporary exhibitions are also presented. This museum opens especially during September, when an important festival takes place.
Festival del Lago: This festival has been celebrated every year in Ypacarai city since 1971. This popular gathering in September encourages folk expression and Paraguayan art, including concerts, dance and theater. According to the City Chamber, this festival “tries to rescue and reinforce the artistic heritage of Paraguayan culture”.
Casa Hassler: is a cultural center, open the whole year with permanent and temporary exhibitions. Artists can show their work here at no cost. There is also a history museum, a public library, and classes in acting and dance.
As Ypacarai is a relatively shallow lake, boats and small ships can navigate it without inconvenience. The lake is surrounded by cities with facilities necessary for tourists and other visitors. Beaches are open to public, and they are very popular during summer, especially in San Bernardino.
This city is located 48 km (30 mi) from Asunción. It has beaches, cultural centers, pubs, and interesting restaurants. San Bernardino is also called the “Summer City” because of its facilities and attractions for visitors during that season.
This city is 31 km (19 mi) from Asunción and has a charming bohemian atmosphere. It is a favorite place for writers and well-known personalities. This city also has a public beach. Aregua holds an artisans' fair, where the locals offer pottery and clay figures.
Cities that surround the lake offer great variety of gastronomic styles. including both fast food and traditional dishes. Fruit salads, pastries, chipas and empanadas are some options.
How to get there
One can see this lake in the course of visiting one of the surrounding cities. From Asuncion Bus Terminal buses depart to San Bernardino and Ypacarai, and there is a bus to Aregua from Avenida San Martín o Aviadores del Chaco in Asuncion.
If traveling by car to:
Ypacarai: 34 km (21 mi) taking Ruta 2 from Asunción.
Aregua: 31 km (19 mi) taking an exit from Ruta 2 in Capiata City, or leaving from Luque city.
San Bernardino: a 48 km (30 mi) trip from Asunción, taking the exit to the city from Ruta 2.
- La Magia de Nuestra Tierra- Fundación en Alianza, 2003.
- Jaha, Sitios imperdibles del Paraguay. Revista informativa. Senatur, 2008.
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