Tours and Activities:
Navigation across Lake San RoqueMarcelo SolaMarcelo Sola
We sailed on a catamaran across Lake San Roque and appreciated the beauty of the place from a different perspective. An ideal ride to learn about the history, the formation and the architecture of the city.
The black clouds on the sky the day before had left us craving for a ride on a catamaran across Lake San Roque. Fortunately, the weather is in continuous change during the summer in the Córdoba Mountain Range and the following morning was fresh but cloudless, ideal to accomplish our task: to see the city from the water.
The San Roque was the first artificial lake in South America. It is 13 kilometers long, 6 kilometers wide in its broadest section and occupies a surface of 2,300 hectares. Its maximum depth is 35 meters and the first dam that gave shape to it was built over 110 years ago. The truth is that this particular water mirror gives Villa Carlos Paz, tourist icon in the Province of Córdoba, an added distinctive feature.
We went to the lake waterfront in order to go on the excursion. Each day, many boats take tourists down around Lake San Roque at the same time guides provide information about the lake formation, the local history, the geographic features and the distinguished architecture of Villa Carlos Paz. This time, we got on board the Realicó catamaran.
Comfortably settled in our seats, we let ourselves be carried away by the charm of the Small Mountain Range and the quiet waters of the San Roque.
The guide's voice announced that we would sail up to the dam, where we would be able to appreciate the magnificent work of engineering created in order to irrigate 40,000 hectares of land that surround the City of Córdoba.
The ship began to sail across the lake. To port -that is to say, to the left- the Villa del Lago neighborhood escorted us during a large part of the tour. This is one of the most exclusive and neat areas in the city. The first building of the area, which is 85 years old, stands there: Dr. Zárate's castle.
Ahead, we could see two bridges: a small one called Puente Negro (Black Bridge), which is over 100 years old and a larger and wider one that replaced the former. This represents one of the most important construction in the region, as it joins Villa Carlos Paz and the entire Valley of Punilla through National Route 20 and Provincial Route 38.
The boat followed usual direction off the shore of Santa Rita, where the city nautical clubs, such as the Club Cazadores y Pescadores (Hunters and Anglers Club), the sports center, the Motonáutico de Córdoba (Córdoba Motonautical Club), the Club Náutico Córdoba (Cordoba Nautical Club) and the Jockey Club, are located. There is also the Las Rosas point, the site celebrities choose to relax when they visit the city.
From the center of the lake, we could appreciate the highest mount in the city, known as “cerro de la Cruz” (Mount of the Cross), with its 1,000 m.a.s.l., so-called due to the 15-meter-high cross set on its summit in 1934. We also watched the famous Magical Mountain -identified with a double M- which lodges a kind of zigzagging roller-coaster built in 1983, one of the main attractions in the area. On the right slope of the Mount of the Cross, we managed to see the chairlift venue, which has transported people to the coffee-shop located on top of the mount since 1955.
Almost before we could even notice, the boat entered the lake “throat”, where the deepest area is located. In front, we watched the San Roque Dam wall and the funnel used to keep the level of the lake.
It is amazing to think how they built the old dam between 1886 and 1889 which now lies 3 meters under the water. 2,500 men worked hard to set up this engineering masterpiece directed by the well-known professionals Juan Bialet Massé and Carlos Argentino Cassafus.
An outstanding piece of information: the San Roque Dam has turbines that generate electrical power for the city of Córdoba through an intake made up of underground pipes.
As we got to the funnel, the cameras could not stop shooting, maybe in an attempt to freeze that moment for good. After a few seconds, the catamaran took up its course again, this time to go back to the harbor. In a few minutes, we left behind the controversial San Roque Dam, its cascade, its thick mist and its endless roar.