Lago O'Higgins   42241
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1 Candelario Mansilla
2 Cerro Dos Lagunas, 1620
3 Cerro El Palomar, 1696
4 Cerro Steffen, 3292
5 Cerro Pascua, 2286
6 (Brazo Noroeste)
7 Peninsula La Florida
8 1823
9 (Puerto Bahamondez)
10 Brazo Noreste
11 Lago San Martín


Location: Lago O'Higgins (256 m)      by: Pedrotti Alberto
Area: Chile      Date: 06-03-2014
Lago O'Higgins is one of the three big lakes pertaining to the Hielo Sur.
It is less known than the two (Viedma and Argentino) on the Atlantic/Argentinian side, perhaps due to its hidden position, at the very end of the long and adventurous Carretera Austral.
It has an area of 1013 km^2, but most notably its shoreline is no less of 525 km long, due to its very peculiar shape - it is recommended to have a look at the map in order to appreciate the unicity of this geographical feature. It is also the deepest lake of the Americas, with a measured value of 836 metres.
You have to cross it if you want to link in a single travel the classical touristic district Paine - Calafate - Chalten with Chilean Patagonia. When, some year ago, I studied the cyclistic link, I believed to be doing some pioneering work. At the time, from El Chaltén you had to
1) cycle to the Lago del Desierto;
2) push the bicycle all the way along the long lake, probably a one-day-work on a narrow trail between thorny bushes;
3) push the bicycle up to Portezuelo de la Divisoria, the border saddle, after having your passport stamped at the far end of Lago del Desierto;
4) cycle down to Candelario Mansilla, hoping to find the Carabineros station open and, last but not least, hoping not to wait too many days for the boat, which at the time was reported to travel once or at most twice a week;
5) navigate to Puerto Bahamondez and reach, with 7 km of gravel, Villa O'Higgins, from where one can reach, with further 1240 km of gravel, Puerto Montt. While these last 1240 km are outside the scope of this description, the interested Betrachter can see something interesting from the first seven:
On the terrain, I found that only phase 2 had substantially changed, and this was indeed a welcome detail, since nowadays there is a boat also on Lago del Desierto, sparing all the bush- and push-work. More importantly, I discovered that this crossing is no longer a pioneering undertaking, with both boats being actually filled up with dozens of bicycles and cyclists. In the Internet age numbers are quick to change by orders of magnitude...
In spite of this, the crossing from El Chaltén to Villa O'Higgins still remains an adventure sufficient to fill a chapter of a book, and indeed some of the other travellers who were with me on the boat from where this image was taken meanwhile wrote their book.
Unfortunately for the Betrachter (of fortunately, depending on the point of view) I lack the time not only to write a book, but even to work out a GPS track of the Carretera Austral and/or a polished photo album, so interested people (if any) are referred to the images that I uploaded directly on place (in this case, from the public library of Villa O'Higgins):
Candelario Mansilla, which you still see in the picture, is a village made of a little harbour, a Carabineros station, and a little group of houses, the only one permanently inhabited being that of Justa Mansilla, no less than the... grand-daughter of Candelario. Actually, having always a special interest for geographical names, when attending to my "pioneering studies" I wondered a lot where such a strange village name could come from. As I discovered, it is simply the name of one of its early inhabitants, maybe the only one, maybe born on February 2, the day of the Virgen de la Candelaria.
As for the lake, the name comes from the "libertador" of Chile, Bernardo O'Higgins. Interesting enough, the Argentinian portion of the lake is named after the "libertador" of Argentina, General San Martín. This is why I say that, for short, it could be called in the overall Lago de los Libertadores...
Whatever the name, let me conclude with the advertisement formula of the company running the boat service: "Lago O'Higgins: vien al corazón de la Patagonia profunda".


Stunning light and view!!

Cheers, Hans-Jörg
2016/03/21 09:11 , Hans-Jörg Bäuerle
Great view an wavework !-)
best regards,
2016/03/21 09:55 , Christian Hönig
Thank you.
Now, seeing that this lake received a more appropriate consideration than the Lago Argentino of N.18358, I also added the description.
2016/03/22 09:23 , Pedrotti Alberto
Great colors. And very much comforting to read your description and learn that you didn't cycle over the lake. Cheers, Martin
2016/03/22 20:51 , Martin Kraus

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Pedrotti Alberto

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