SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
Oriented from east to west, its glacial basin is located 21 km from Junín de los Andes and 61 km from San Martín de los Andes. A superb example of the Andean lakes, it is fourth in importance after Argentino, Viedma and Nahuel Huapi. It has transparent but rough waters. However, on calm days, which are rarer than on the eastern side, its waters reflect the imposing landscape.
Surrounded by Lanín volcano and the Contra and Los Angeles mountains, this lake is fed by meltwater streams and the Paimún and Epulafquen lakes.
Its Mapuche name means: Huechu: long, and Laufquen: lake. With its 104 km2 of surface area, it is the largest in Lanín National Park. It is 29.5 km long, 4.8 km wide, and its depth varies between 500 and 800 meters.
Lake Huechulafquen has regular fjord-type coastlines, and is surrounded by woods and hills. Its volcanic past has left its mark on the black sand beaches of Puerto Canoa.
On its shores there are araucarias and coihue woods, this species being only found at this spot in the area. In the depths of its almost impenetrable forests are flowery dells overflowing with a great variety of wildflowers of every conceivable shade.
Europeans first arrived in the area of Lake Huechulafquen (in the south of the province, close to San Martín de los Andes) in the 16th century. Before, its inhabitants had been the Mapuches, who also inhabited Chilean territory. These tribes had always been a thorn in the side of the Spanish conquistadors, and only surrendered thanks to President Roca's Desert Campaign.
Trekking time: 1 ½ hours.
Attractions: Three unique lake environments in Huechulafquen, Epulafquen and Paimún, plus the spectacular panoramic view of Lanín volcano, Mt Los Angeles, El Escorial and the El Saltillo waterfall.
Period: All year round.
Recommendations: Rubber-soled or trekking shoes, comfortable trousers, warm (and waterproof) clothes, bathing costume and sunscreen.