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 4, 2010

Tolten River creature

lake of the week

During the last week of January 2003, there were some strange sightings along the Toltén River in Chile. Today we will post about them, and also make Toltén our "Lake (actually River) of the Week".

The river

Toltén is a river, 230 km (143 mi.) long that flows into the Pacific Ocean in a east-west direction, cutting across Chile in the province of Cautín, IXth Region, Araucania.

At one time it marked the border between the Mapuche (north) and Huilliche (south) people of Precolumbian Chile.

Its sources are at the western tip of Lake Villarica, at 230 m (754 ft.) above sea level.

The sightings

A family that was having a picnic by the side of the river in the Municipality (i.e. County or “comuna”) of Toltén, which is the last stretch of the river before it flows into the sea when:

from the waters a huge serpent emerged –apparently an anaconda- that stared at them from head to toes with the eyes of a murderer and a long fang[1]

This happened on January 26, and as told by one of the family members, Seferino Curihuanca (or Curihuinca), they were at “Toltén Chico” (according to [1]) or by the cemetery of “Toltén Viejo” (according to [2]), (39°11'S, 73°12'W), when they saw:

small waves in the river […] which was not normal and, surprising us, a serpent-like head popped out about forty centimeters [16 in.] out of the water […] it was about three meters long [9.8 ft.] and extremely thick like thirty centimeters diameter [1 ft.] [1]

They threw stones at it and forced it to get out of the river but lost its tracks on the shore after it slithered into the bushes.[1]

Seferino says that he had heard rumors that somebody living in the town of Villarrica (upstream along the Toltén) illegally introduced two anacondas from abroad and both of them escaped. Of course the owner did not tell the police to avoid being fined for his actions.

Mrs. Yolanda Curihuinca (same surname as Seferino, perhaps his wife?) later phoned the Police and described the creature as: “A monster with a big head, whose eyes were prominent, its skin was dark brown and measured 6 meters [19.6 ft.].” [3]

Notice that in Yolanda's version, the snake is twice as long as in Seferino's version.

After the incident, the local police and firemen looked for the snake but did not find any traces of it. The police also admitted that they had heard about the rumor regarding escaped anacondas, but nobody has formally informed them of any incidents.[1]

Though they searched the area, they did not use boats so it was not a very thorough search [2] yet the police said that the whole incident “was a collective psicosis […] more ficticious than real [2].

More sightings

After the Curihuinca sighting, fifteen other witnesses came forward saying that they had seen it too: [2]

  • At Frutillar, 2 km from Toltén they saw a giant creature on the river shore that later hid among the rushes close to the cemetery of Toltén Viejo
  • At Tenencia, a neighbor told the Police about a snake and that several anglers who were fishing on the river bank ran away because they were afraid it would catch them

During the months of February and March 2003, more "snakes" were seen in the area, but further south, (132 km - 82mi.) from Toltén, on an independent river basin, at Lake Ranco.


[1] La Cuarta. Santiago. Chile. 28.01.2003. Anaconda de tres metros dejó helada a familia que paseaba en el río Toltén.
[2] Escobar, P. Diario Austral. Valdivia. Chile. 15.06.2004. El día que Toltén enloqueció
[3] Hallazgos de la criptozoologia

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Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
2010 International Year of Biodiversity Copyright 2009-2010 by Austin Whittall © 

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