Volcanic Sand in the Curruhué

Nestled in an isolated area, Lake Curruhué is surrounded by tall forests of native species that are reflected in its waters and provide fresh air and intense green hues to the surroundings.

Lanín National Park stands out for its large size and the diversity of its wildlife. The area where Lake Curruhué is located concentrates several water bodies, lush vegetation and natural hot springs amidst an environment of extreme beauty.

We set out in our car along the paved route that leads to San Martín de los Andes guided by one of the brochures made by National Parks. The zigzagging road led us to Lake Curruhué Chico, a small water body teeming with reed where some ducks were swimming unaware of our presence. Though fly-fishing is practiced at this location, motorboats are not allowed. Moreover, there is a very pretty primitive camping site.

We toured around the Curruhué, a word that stands for “dark place” in the Mapuche tongue. Great volcanic activity took place at this spot in the past. A panoramic viewpoint features a sight of the scene in all splendor and lets viewers enjoy almost absolute silence.

  • Surrounded by tall forests of native species

    Surrounded by tall forests of native species

  • Volcanic Sand

    Volcanic Sand

  • Lake Curruhué Grande

    Lake Curruhué Grande

  • Lake Green

    Lake Green

  • A different beaches

    A different beaches

  • The Escorial

    The Escorial

  • Along the Volcanic Roads

    Along the Volcanic Roads

Following the path, we came across an interesting monkey-puzzle tree wood. This species is highly praised by the Mapuche people for its fruit -the pine nut-, which is part of their diet. A short hike led us through an inner trail in that forest of ancient conifers up to the northern margin of Lake Curruhué Grande and then back to the road.

We drove on and then slowed down even more in order to appreciate every bend. We bordered Lake Curruhué Grande, which seemed to get bigger and bigger as we moved along. On the other end, we found a primitive camping site with a very ample and quiet beach where we improvised the first picnic of the day. A tree grove sheltered us from the strong sunshine typical of Patagonian summers.

Several hiking tours start at this point. Those who prefer to continue along the same road will come across Laguna Verde (Lake Green), the Escorial and Lahuen-Có hot springs.

Along the Volcanic Roads

We were surprised by a small lake called Laguna del Toro (Bull's Lake), which seemed to hide behind the thicker and thicker vegetation. Some meters ahead, we found the volcanic wonder we were eager to see: the Escorial, a strange site where black porous rocks are scattered all around in a whimsical fashion giving shape to a kind of corridor.

It is a river of petrified lava that starts on the hillsides of the Ayen Niyeu Volcano and gets deep into Lake Epulafquen. An interpretation trail shows visitors around that blackish formation and helps them understand what happened there many years ago.

We followed the recommendations contained in the brochure and reached Carilafquen Cascade after a short hike along a lush trail. As we got there, we freshened up with the icy water that rolled down the large rocks towards the lake. Then we made a stop to rest and breathe the oxygen of that natural environment.

The same road leads to Carirriñe international pass. We did not have enough time to visit the natural hot springs in the open air at that location. The shades of the sky with their golden reflections announced the end of the afternoon and the last stretch of Lanín National Park in that area.

Autor Mónica Pons Fotografo Eduardo Epifanio

How to get hereHow to get here: Take National Route 234 towards San Martín de los Andes and after 4 kilometers turn right into Provincial Route 62, a sign-posted gravel road.
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