Stairs that lead nowhere, old cars that became junk, railings that no longer delineate anything and tree trunks that still resist, this is what Villa Apecuen is today.
Located 520 kilometers from Buenos Aires, this small resort was once one of the most visited places in Argentina. At the time, 1,200 people lived there, but in 1985 a tragic accident flooded Ipequen.
The village was flooded at that time due to heavy rains and poor hydraulic planning; A containment blockage gave way and the waters from Lake Apequine destroyed everything. In two weeks the city was covered by seven meters of water and simply disappeared from the map.
Thankfully no one died in the flood. The residents had only a few days to pack their necessities and left their homes in a hurry. Many rebuilt their lives in the nearby town of Carhue and waited 20 years to return to the small village to see what was left of their properties when the waters ran low.
Today it’s just rubble, but Apquen remains an interesting place. Ghost Town is visited by many tourists, mainly Argentines. Walking through this white landscape is almost like being on a movie set: deserted streets and abandoned. Almost apocalyptic scene.
One of the most famous buildings in these ruins is the Matadero, an old abattoir that still preserves the façade, although it has ruins inside. You can still see the letters on the top of this building which was designed by the famous Argentine architect Francisco Salamón, an avant-garde of the time.
Before the flood, Apecuen was known for its seaside resort. Many Argentines visited this place to bathe in the water that was famous for its medicinal properties, which was rich in sulfur and salt.
As we walk, you can see signs and photos that show what the city was like in the past. Cement benches and tables that may have been part of a square, façades that still protest, poles that once held electrical wires, a rusted bathroom sink and streets that show us a path that leads nowhere .
Imagining what life was like there until the mid-1980s, when the resort was living its golden age, is an almost inevitable exercise.
Tourism and Guinness Records
The nearest town is Carhué, which is 8 kilometers away. This small town benefited from the tragic end of Apecuén as it nowadays receives tourists who visit the ruins and also take the opportunity to relax in its thermal waters.
Experts say that the water of Carahue contains four times more salt than the sea. They claim that the water in this Argentinian lake contains almost as much salt as the waters of the famous Dead Sea in the Middle East.
That’s why the small town has heated swimming pools, spas and hotels that offer baths that relieve symptoms of arthritis, skin infections, and help fight stress. Carahue also houses the Museo Regional de Adolfo Alsina, which is an interesting stop for a better understanding of the history of Apacuen. In addition, the city has a famous thermal park and a curious Guinness record.
Carhué managed to collect the largest number of people swimming at the same time without the help of any equipment. In January 2017, exactly 1941 people broke this record in the waters of Lake Apecuen.
For those who wish to visit this unique place, summer is a great time to visit Apecuen as it is quite cold in winters. However, hotels in Carhué are open throughout the year.
Those in the know indicate that the best time to visit a ghost town is at the end of the day. The sun sets right there on the lake and the sight of nature reminds us once again that it is possible to find beauty even in adverse circumstances.