In the 1920s, the tourist vil­lage of Vil­la Epecuen was found­ed, locat­ed along the shores of Lago Epecuen, a salt lake 600 kilo­me­ters south­west of Buenos Aires, Argenti­na. Lake Lago Epecuen is like most oth­er moun­tain lakes, except for one impor­tant dif­fer­ence. It has a very high salin­i­ty lev­el, com­pa­ra­ble only to the Dead Sea, and ten times greater than in any ocean.

villa epecuen

Entry relat­ed to loca­tion: Argenti­na

The ther­a­peu­tic prop­er­ties of Lake Lago Epecuen have been known for cen­turies. The leg­end says that the lake was formed by the tears of the great Lord, cry­ing out in pain of part­ing with his beloved. Epecuen — or “eter­nal spring” — can cure depres­sion, rheuma­tism, skin dis­eases, ane­mia, and even treat dia­betes.

flooded city
Towards the end of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, the first inhab­i­tants and vis­i­tors began to arrive at Vil­la Epecuen and set up tents on the banks. The set­tle­ment has been trans­formed from a sleepy moun­tain vil­lage to a bustling tourist resort, with a rail line link­ing it to Buenos Aires. Tourists began to arrive here, and by the 1960s as many as 25,000 peo­ple were com­ing every year to expe­ri­ence the sooth­ing salt water. The city’s pop­u­la­tion peaked in the 1970s, with over 5,000 res­i­dents. Near­ly 300 busi­ness­es pros­pered, includ­ing hotels, hos­tels, resorts, shops and muse­ums.


At the same time, long-term rains began, which did not stop for many years, and Lago Epecuen began to flood. On Novem­ber 10, 1985, a huge vol­ume of water broke through a moun­tain dam and flood­ed most of the city. By 1993, a slow­ly grow­ing flood took over the city until it was cov­ered with 10 meters of water.

See also
The flooded forest of Lake Kaindy


Near­ly 25 years lat­er, in 2009, the cli­mate changed and the waters began to recede. Vil­la Epecuen began to sur­face. No one dared to return to the city, except for 81-year-old Pablo Novak, who is now its only res­i­dent.


“I’m fine here. I’m just alone. I read the paper and always think about the gold­en days of the city in the 1960s and 70s,” Novak says. In 2011, AFP pho­tog­ra­ph­er Juan Mabro­ma­ta vis­it­ed the ruins, met the only inhab­i­tant and returned with these images.

In con­tin­u­a­tion, read also about the flood­ed for­est of Lake Kaindy in a sep­a­rate arti­cle.