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With around 725 inhabitants, Lago the biggest Mapuche settlement within Neuquen province. Before visitors reach the lake, at 4 km down Ruta 18 they will come across the skiing area Las Horquetas, which is not serviced by any lifts but is well used by the locals in the winter. From the top of the slope there's an excellent view of the Rucachoroi River to the right. A little further down the hill, visitors will come upon a Mapuche school where students and teachers make and sell artisan goods crafted out of local Colihue cane bushes. Closer to the lake at around 16.5 km down the road, visitors will find a Mapuche Artisan Center where it's possible to watch young and old women weaving and purchase handwoven rugs and ponchos. After that visitors will pass several Mapuche homes and farms alongside the Rucachoroi River. The Mapuche community at Rucachoroi is a self-sufficient one, so community members grow crops and raise livestock to feed their families, but they earn a small amount by selling their artisan goods to visitors. Finally drivers will enter Parque Lanin, where they will find a Park Ranger station (guardaparque) and then will reach the end of the road at the lake.

The lake itself is very small with only a 3.3 km² surface area, but it is surrounded by beautiful mountains that are densely forested. Boating on Lago Rucachoroi is prohibited, but fly fishing is allowed. Visitors can also enjoy birdwatching as the lake is home to flamingos, black-necked swans and many different species of ducks. The Mapuche community operates two free campsites at the lake (without hot water) and a small store with local foods and horse rentals. Visitors should plan to bring their own food if they intend to stay for longer than a day as there is not a very big selection of food to purchase here.


Other places nearby Rucachoroi: Moquehue, Lago Huechulafquen, Lago Norquinco, Quillén and Villa Pehuenia.

16 Aug 2010

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