General Carrera Lake is one of the most picturesque bodies of water in Patagonia. The lake spans both Chile and Argentina, and General Carrera Lake is its Chilean name. On the Argentinian side, they know it better as Lake Buenos Aires. Both names are widely used and internationally accepted, however, so take your pick. Whatever you call it, if you’re a lake lover heading to Patagonia, you won’t want to miss it. This quick guide will give you everything you need to visit General Carrera Lake.
What (and where) is General Carrera Lake?
Well, it’s a lake. And a pretty big lake, at that. In total, it’s got a surface area of 1,850 square kilometres, of which 970 area on the Chilean side and the remaining 880 belonging to Argentina. For those keeping scores, that makes it Chile’s largest lake and Argentina’s fourth largest. At its deepest point, the lake is some 586 metres deep.
On the Chilean side, the lake lies in the Aysén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo Region, Chile’s least populous region. Don’t worry too much about remembering the tongue-twisting name: The region is often known simply as the Aysén Region.
In Argentina, the lake is found in the Santa Cruz Province. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is also Argentina’s least populous region. It’s probably best known as the home of Los Glaciares National Park, but General Carrera Lake is another great reason to visit the area.
What to do at General Carrera Lake
In terms of sightseeing, General Carrera Lake is hard to beat. Surrounded by the Andes mountain range, this is surely one of the world’s most picturesque lakes. The lake’s glacial origins are readily apparent, and this is a photographer’s dreamscape.
It may not be the first thing that springs to mind, but fishing at General Carrera Lake is an incredibly popular pursuit. Sport fishing enthusiasts from all over the world come to the pristine lake for its rich and plentiful source of trout and salmon.
Adventurous visitors will not want to miss the opportunity to kayak on the lake and its surrounds. You can experience the lake’s network of tunnels, marble caves and other sights by kayak.
Always a popular pursuit in Patagonia, you can hike at General Carrera Lake. The hills and mountains surrounding the lake provide many wonderful vantage points of the lake itself but be prepared for some rough terrain.
How to get to General Carrera Lake
This is the (slightly) tricky part. To visit the lake from the Chilean side, you’ve got to first make your way to Coyhaique, the closest city. “Close” in this case means a four-hour drive, so be prepared. Whether you decide to rent a car or go with a tour operator is your choice. In any event, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to drive there, see what you want to do, and to drive back. Of course, you could always decide to camp overnight – but beware that it gets pretty cold there!