This Unique Town Has A Stunning Lake With Some Of South America's Clearest Waters

The quaint town of Epuyén sits on a crystal-clear 6.6 square-mile lake in southern Argentina. Far from the complexity and bustle of urban life, the town and its namesake lake offer a tranquil mountain retreat deep in the heart of the Patagonian wilderness. The visibility in Lake Epuyén is close to 100 feet, making it the clearest lake in Argentina. Its shimmering water is a pane of glass mirroring the sky, bounded by dense forests and the rugged elegance of the Andes Mountains. The water is also quite warm, at least by Patagonian standards. It has an average temperature of around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (warmer during summer). This makes it an ideal place for swimming and other water sports, as long as you aren't using a motor. Motorized craft are banned on the lake — one of the reasons it has remained so pristine. 

While the lake is the main attraction here, the agricultural town of Epuyén has a quiet charm of its own. With around 2,000 full-time residents, the hamlet boasts an authentic rural spirit that's delightfully free from mass tourism. It also has one of Argentina's most iconic Buddhist landmarks: the Stupa Samantabhadra, whose perfect geometry is said to represent a spiritual state. The monument is a fitting symbol of what most distinguishes this place: in one word, peace. 

Discovering the lake

Besides serenity in spades, the lake and surrounding area offer countless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Among the many thrilling adventures in South America, a kayak trip on this extraordinary lake has to be up there with the best of them. Imagine gliding along the shimmering surface of Lake Epuyén and gazing down into its clear azure depths, sometimes to its rocky bottom. If you haven't kayaked on a lake before, it's not just a beautiful and fun form of exercise. It also has a whole slew of health benefits

For those who prefer to be in the water rather than on it, swimming and snorkeling are also options at Lake Epuyén. One charming sandy beach is Puerto Patriada on the northwest end of the lake, around 8 miles from El Hoyo. Land-based adventurers can explore the spectacular terrain around the lake on foot or horseback. One moderately challenging out-and-back hike begins in the Puerto Bonito Municipal Park along the lakeshore and travels 3 miles to Bahía Las Percas. Along the way, trekkers can enjoy spectacular lake views and heavenly silence.

Local culture at Lake Epuyén

Beyond glorious nature, the town boasts a vibrant local culture woven of indigenous Mapuche and modern threads. The Antú Quillén Cultural Center is a local non-profit association housed on the lakeshore that showcases regional handicrafts and other local products. The center also hosts art classes, educational seminars, and cultural events like the Mapuche New Year celebration. Agrotourism is another interesting way to learn about the area, with opportunities to visit an old wheat flour mill, fine fruit farms, honey producers, and artisanal candy factories. Last, a visit to the Stupa Samantabhadra — the magical place juxtaposing ancient wisdom, local culture, and nature — would be an appropriate ending to an Epuyén experience. 

The only way to reach Epuyén is by car or bus from a nearby city. Bus service to Epuyén is available from Bariloche (around 100 miles to the north) or Esquel (around 77 miles to the south). Renting a car from either of these cities is also an option. The best time to visit Epuyén is during the Southern Hemisphere's summer months, from December to March when the weather is optimal for swimming and other outdoor activities.