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General Carrera Lake

General Carrera Lake



Location: Patagonia Map

Area: 1,850 km²




Description of General Carrera Lake

Lake Buenos Aires / General Carrera is a lake in South America, located in Patagonia and shared by Chile and Argentina. Each side of the border has different names, both internationally recognized: in Chile it is known as Lake General Carrera (officially since 1959), while in Argentina it is called Lake Buenos Aires. It is also known by the autochthonous name of Lake Chelenko, which in the Tehuelche word that means "stormy waters". General Carrera Lake is a beautiful mountain lake surrounded by picturesque mountains in the Patagonia region of Chile. General Carrera lake has an area of 1850 km², of which 978.12 km² are in the Chilean Region of Aysén of General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, and the remaining 880 km² belong to the Argentine province of Santa Cruz, which makes it the largest lake in Chilean territory, and the second in Argentina.




This lake of glacial origin, surrounded by the Andes mountain range, drains into the Pacific Ocean through the Baker River. It has a small tributary on the eastern side called the Fénix Chico River, although at present this tributary is intermittent due to lateral erosion and landslides of the moraine that dam the lake in the east.

The lake has a maximum depth of 840 meters. The climate of its surroundings is cold and very windy, and its generally cliffy coasts, which makes human establishment difficult, which has not prevented the formation of various villages on the shores of this lake thanks to its coasts have a fairly microclimate Benign, as in the case of the towns of Puerto Ingeniero Ibáñez on the north bank and Chile Chico on the south bank, both in Chilean territory. On the Argentine coast, the town of Los Antiguos is located, neighboring Chile Chico and the oldest in the area, while the city of Perito Moreno is located a few kilometers inland.

The shores of this lake began to be inhabited by Argentine, Chilean and European colonizers between 1900 and 1925. In 1971 and 1991, the eruption of the Hudson volcano wreaked havoc in this area, whose economy is based mainly on sheep farming.

It is important to note that a recent study on oral accounts of the first settlers who arrived in Chile Chico and its surroundings, carried out in 2017 by the National Corporation for Indigenous Development CONADI (governmental body created by Chilean Law 19.253- Indigenous Law) , evidenced that by 1896 in the town of Cholila, the first families of Mapuche origin were officially registered in the territory. It is very important to point out that the area near Lake General Carrera / Lake Buenos Aires; it presents innumerable sites of unexplored cultural and archaeological significance; In this sector of Patagonia, the Tehuelche people inhabited sharing boundaries in the north with the Mapuche people, while in the south they did so with Selknam, Kaweskar and Chonos.

The Argentine side is relatively easy to access, due to an ancient track used by the Patagonians and, during the 19th century, by the explorer Francisco Pascasio Moreno who discovered the lake. This track was converted, in the 1930s, into part of the RN 40.

On the Chilean side, the lake was in prolonged isolation from the rest of the country. For many years the most expeditious routes passed through Argentine territory until the opening in the early 1990s of the Austral Highway allowed its direct connection with the rest of Chile, which produced a tourist boom. The main entrance to the lake is through the town of Puerto Ibáñez.

Tourist attractions
The best known tourist attraction is the "Marble Cathedral," an islet in the middle of the lake composed of rocks of white and ivory tones. It is also frequented by sports fishing enthusiasts, because of its abundance of trout and other salmonids.





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