Upwards of the Valle Grande Dam one comes across the Atuel Canyon, a living presence of the world’s origins sculpted by wind and rain and shaping the most extraordinary formations. Some of them are so perfect that they have been baptized through the years: “The Wax Museum”, “The Old Men”, “The Monsters”, “The Beggar”, “The Hanging Gardens”, “The Haunted City” and “The Lizard” amongst many others.
The river current is so powerful that it has become a great source of energy for the country. There are also two artificial lakes within the canyon, Aisol and Tierras Blancas. It is here where we find the hydroelectric Los Nihuiles complex with three central stations which together generate a potency of 256,000 kilowatts/hour. A fourth central is being built at the foot of the Valle Grande Dam.
TOURIST VILLAGE EL NIHUIL
Driving out of the Atuel Canyon up through a curvy road one comes upon the immensity of the Nihuil dam with a surface area of 9,600 hectares. There is plenty of fish variety in this lake, a paradise for fishermen to indulge in. The colors are amazing and are deepened by the surfers’ multicolor sails and skiers sliding smoothly on the peaceful waters.
The village stands on the right hand shore and most inhabitants work at the industries surrounding the lake. All services are available here including a municipality, chapel, health center, telephones schools and a camping site as well as a hotel owned by the SMATA trade union.
On the left hand side shore one finds the San Rafael Fishermen Club which includes a camping site, a grocery store and week-end villas, etc.
For the return to San Rafael one should take Provincial Route 180 first and National Route 144 then driving through Cuesta de los Terneros, Cuadro Benegas and finally coming to the city along National Route 143.
San Rafael with its wide avenues, the traditional pavements, the irrigation canals lined with trees and native bushes is full of natural beauty making it very attractive to visitors. It is also the birthplace of artists, painters, poets and musicians thus satisfying the spiritual needs of visitors.