In a corner of the Chubut River, Florentino Ameghino Dam breaks with the monotonous scene of the Patagonian steppe by painting a quiet and colorful picture.
We set out towards Florentino Ameghino Dam
early in the morning, getting away from the sea and the steppe to spend one day in the open air.
To reach the dam from the City of Trelew
, we took National Route 25 and traveled 114 kilometers up to the District of Las Chapas. Once there, at the crossroads, we turned left into Provincial Route 31 to cover the remaining 12 kilometers.
On the other hand, there are two alternatives from Comodoro Rivadavia
: the first one is to travel 370 kilometers along National Route 3 up to the City of Trelew; the second one is to travel 238 kilometers along National Route 3 up to the District of Uzcudún and once there take Provincial Route 31 and cover 86 kilometers along a gravel road up to Villa del Dique
(The Dam's Village).
Those interested in going on this excursion should contact the travel agents that sell the tour to the dam. In that case, the tour starts at the City of Trelew taking Route 3 and, after a stretch, it takes the detour to show the recently found petrified woods. After getting off the vehicle, a small hike across the countryside leads to a site where visitors will see several logs turned into stone among coirones
, witnesses to a prehistoric Patagonia that is waiting to be discovered.
Upon reaching the dam, we observed a reddish ravine teeming with willows and houses on both margins of the Chubut River. The Chubut runs between steep walls of a deep red hue along several kilometers until it finally gives shape to an artificial lake that occupies approximately 7,000 hectares.
The dam was inaugurated in 1963 and its construction took 20 from the moment it was planned by engineer Antonio Pronsato. It was then that the first workers of the dam started to settle down at the foot of the incipient construction. It is more than clear that the history of the dam and the village named after it may not be told separately.
Today, it measures 255 meters of length and it prevents the valley of the Chubut River from being flooded. It stores water in the winter and spring in order to supply the irrigation channel network for the crops in the summer. As well, it provides electric power to the Sistema Interconectado Patagónico (Patagonian Interconnected System).
Following the course of the river and leaving the village behind, we visited the kaolin mines, a pink mineral used to make tiles.
As far as fauna is concerned, groups of guanacos, choiques, grey foxes and Patagonian hares may be observed in the area. Among the birds, the turkey buzzard, the variable hawk, the peregrine falcon, the cinereous harrier and the owl may be seen among other species. The fish that dwell in the reservoir include perch, Patagonian silverside, catfish, brown trout and rainbow trout, these two highly praised by anglers.
At noon we had the chance to have lunch at one of the diners in the village, where delicious empanadas are served to the sound of the guitar. After some chatting once the meal was over, we went across long tunnels opened through the rock and reached the top of the concrete wall, where panoramic views of the reservoir and the village invite everyone to immortalize these sights both with their cameras and their bountiful memories.