Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lake Caviahue – lake of the week

lake of the week

Small “Dark people similar to African blacks”[1] have been mentioned mentioned in northwestern Neuquén, at Lake Caviahue (37°52’ S, 71°02’ W), this week's Lake of the week.

This small horse-shoe shaped lake, with a surface area of only 10 km2 (4 sq. mi.) is set at the foot of 2.900 m (9,500 ft.) high Copahue volcano. It was a sacred place for the Mapuche natives.

Here, according to Argentine folklorist Gregorio Alvarez, a native named Tranavil once saw “black men bathing; they came out to the sandy shore and lay there for a while to rest”.[2]

These “Negros del Agua” (water blacks) are described as being slightly smaller than men; their aquatic nature is confirmed by their webbed hands and feet. They are evil, and swim in groups looking for canoes to overturn and drown their occupants.

We have mentioned in a previous post that the Patagonians feared “dark” man-like creatures. However those were “wild men”, man-sized beings. These, at Caviahue, are smaller dwarfish creatures.

Other strange creatures live in the lake:

animals that should not have been there, like threatening bulls and horses […] and a female entity associated to these waters named “la sirena” [the mermaid] who is mentioned many times in the stories of the elderly locals.[2]

As you can see,even though it is a very tiny lake, it has the full repertoire of Patagonian monsters from bulls and calimayos to dwarves and mermaids.

Below a stamp that I designed for our lake of the week.

Calimayo stamp

Stamp with "Calimayo" image at Lake Caviahue. Copyright © 2009 by Austin Whittall

Caviahue is also well known for its ski resort and is only 17 km (11 mi.) from Copahue’s thermal spas.

logo Copahue Caviahue
Click on the following links for official tourist info: on Caviahue and both Copahue and Caviahue.


[1] Fernández, C. and López, H. El valle secreto de los Mapuches. Año Cero 126. 07.11.2000. Ed. America Iberica. 11-2000. Online.
[2] Alvarez, G., (1968). El Tronco de Oro. Neuquen: Pehuén. pp. 116 -7.

Copyright 2009 by Austin Whittall ©

Patagonian Monsters

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