Villa El Chocón - Photos: 1 y 2. Jorge González / 3. Alejandro Alvarez
Known for the presence of dinosaur fossil remains from the Cretaceous Period of the Mesozoic Age, Villa El Chocón is appreciated both in Argentina and worldwide. It is constantly visited for scientific and popularization purposes.
Villa El Chocón is accessed through National Route 237. It lies 80 kilometers away from the City of Neuquén heading for San Carlos de Bariloche. It is a small recently developed settlement. “Chocón” stands for “man soaking in water” in the Mapuche tongue.
Built on cliffs and austere formations of reddish rocky outcrops, it was dwelled by scarce settlers for long years. They struggled against the dry windy climate of the steppe and dedicated their efforts to raising livestock.
In 1967, the mixed-capital company named Hidronor S.A. began to build the Chocón-Cerro Colorados hydroelectric power station. It was essential to supply the staff with houses. Thus, the first settlement began. Today, the station continues operating and the village expanded as the number of inhabitants increased.
The Limay River gave origin to the present Ezequiel Ramos Mexía Reservoir, which occupies an 816-square-kilometer area. It represents the dam’s water reserve and the village develops on its shores.
At the same time the works on the dam were finished, the remains of the largest dinosaur in the world were found in the surroundings. It was named Giganotosaurus carolinii. It was then that the paleontological museum became the greatest attraction in the area.
In the last few years, the number of visitors to the village has increased as a result not only of the dinosaurs issue but also of the huge water body available for sports. Navigation, fishing and visits to its giant walls are becoming more and more popular.
I, II, III and Llequén are the original neighborhoods. Quite recently, new constructions have been raised on the lake shores. They are mainly villas and their owners come along on the weekends from the City of Neuquén and Alto Valle (the high valley) in search for quietness.
There is a wide range of accommodation, gastronomic and tourist operator options, as well as water activities and fishing outings. Besides, there is a marina and the land is being constantly subdivided for sale. It is estimated that the village has approximately 1,500 permanent dwellers that live on tourism, civil servant positions and jobs at the hydroelectric power station.
Villa El Chocón has its own features and various options for eager tourists.