Nestled in a quiet isolated area, Lake Curruhué is surrounded by high forests of native tree species that reflect their canopies on its waters and create freshness and intense green hues.
Lanín National Park stands out for its large dimensions and the diversity of its natural scenes. The area where Lake Curruhué is located contains various water bodies, thick vegetation and natural hot springs within an extremely beautiful environment.
We drove along a paved road to Junín de los Andes and 4 kilometers before reaching the city, we turned left into a sign-posted gravel road. We were carrying brochures designed by the National Parks Administration, which would guide us through the area so that we did not get lost or miss any of the attractions. A winding road led us to Lake Curruhué Chico, a small water body with plenty of reed where some ducks swam around unaware of our presence. Fly-fishing is allowed at this lake but motorsailing is not. There is a very nice primitive campsite in the area.
A panoramic viewpoint features the scene in its entire splendor immersed in almost complete silence. We were crossing the Curruhé area (a Mapuche word that stands for ‘dark place’), a site where volcanic activity has been quite intense.
As we drove on, we came to an interesting monkey-puzzle tree forest. This species is highly appreciated by the Mapuche
dwellers because of its fruit: the pine tree nut. A short walk lets visitors follow a trail inside that forest of ancient conifers up to the northern margin of Lake Curruhué Grande and back to the road.
Back on the road, we slowed down even more in order to appreciate each turn. We bordered Lake Curruhué Grande, which seemed to become bigger and bigger as we moved along. As we reached the other end, we found a primitive campsite with a very ample and quiet beach where we improvised our first picnic. A generous tree grove protected us from the Patagonian summer sunshine.
Several hiking trails start at this point. Another option is to drive on to Laguna Verde
(Lake Green), the Escorial
and the Lahuen-Có hot springs. Along the Volcanic Paths
We were surprised by a small lake named Toro
(Bull), which seemed to hide behind the thick vegetation. Some meters ahead, we came across the volcanic wonder we were eager to see: the Escorial
, a strange place where black porous rocks spread around whimsically giving shape to a kind of corridor.
It is a river of petrified lava that starts at the hillsides of the Ayen Niyeu Volcano and gets deep into Lake Epulafquen. An interpretation trail goes amidst such dark formation and provides information about what happened there many years ago.
We followed the recommendations we had found in the brochure and got to Carilafquen Cascade after a short hiking tour along a trail that went through the thick vegetation. We freshened up with the icy water that came down the large rocks towards the lake and had a break to rest and breathe the oxygen of that natural spot.
The same road continues up to Carirriñe International Pass and Lahuen Có hot springs resort. The sky was tinged in golden hues that announced the end of the afternoon and the last stretch of Lanín National Park as well.
How to get here: On National Route 234, 4 km before entering Junín, there is a detour into Provincial Route 62, a sign-posted dirt road. Another option is to take the same route at Lake Lolog.
Bear in mind: The beach on Lake Curruhué is perfect to spend the day and Laguna Verde is perfect for camping. Carry all necessary supplies as there is a minimum infrastructure.