South America > Argentina / Chile

Cami Lake, Tierra del Fuego

lakeCami Lake
countryArgentina, Chile
surface area587 km2
maximum depth200 m
average depth70 m
lake typeNatural freshwater lake
length98 km
catchment area3,482 km2
altitude28 m
volume41 km3
outflowsAzopardo River
shore length270 km
settlementsTolhuin
residence time13,179 days
average discharge37 m3 / sec.

Cami Lake Information and Facts

Cami Lake, also known by the name of Fagnano Lake, is located on the main island of the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago, between Argentina and Chile.

Geology and Geography

Cami Lake lies on an active tectonic depression, which separates two main plates, the Southamerican and the Scotia plates. The lake was formed by glaciation, created by a vast glacial lobe that flowed to the East. The entire glacier drainage pours into the Atlantic Ocean.

The glacial lake is located on the Southern tip of South America. Cami Lake runs from East to West for a total of 98 kilometers, of which 72.5 kilometers belong to the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego, whilst the remaining 13.5 kilometers are part of the Chilean Magallanes y la Antarctica Chilena region. It is located on a pull-apart basin, developed along the Magallanes-Fagnano Fault area.

The lake’s southern shores are mostly steep, expanding in a wide and flat piedmont. This part extends mainly on foothills, on which it is easy to observe the two different levels of lacustrine terraces. The lake’s main outflow is the Azopardo River, which makes its way towards the Almirantazgo fjord, and empties into the Strait of Magellan. The town of Tolhuin lies on the lake’s eastern shores.

History

The lake’s initial name originated from the indigenous people selkham, also known as the Ona natives. They used to call it “Lake Kakenchow”, or “Khami”, which means “big water”. The first European settlers arrived at the lake in 1892. Shortly after their arrival, the lake was renamed to honor Monsignor Jose Fagnano, an Italian missionary and Catholic priest who became the first Apostolic Administrator of Southern Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and the Falkand Islands.

Tourism and Recreation

The lake can be easily reached on a paved road from Ushuaia, following a scenic route, passing the Olivia River, Tierra Mayor Valley, Lake Escondido and the sawmills area. It can also be reached from Rio Grande on the same road (National Route 3), crossing between the steppes and the mountains.

Several boat tours are available on the lake, and numerous hiking trails lead up to the surrounding mountains. Horseback riding, mountain biking, boating and fishing are other favored activities at Cami Lake.