Lago Pehoe, Chile

Lake Locations:

Chile - South -

Also known as:  Pehoe Lake

Located at the southern end of Chile, at the edge of the Andes Mountains, Lago Pehoe is a spectacular sight. The scenic lake is visited by thousands every year-most of them visitors to the larger Torres del Paine National Park. Lago Pehoe isn’t a lake for swimming or water sports; the highest summer temperatures rarely reach over 60 degrees. Fed by glaciers, Lago Pehoe glows with beautiful blue hues caused by glacial ‘flour’, or rock dust suspended in the water. Towering Cuernos del Paine peak is reflected on the lake’s surface. The wind blows from the west almost constantly during the summer-up to 70 miles per hour-and rain is frequent. Lago Pehoe is one of the most iconic and frequently photographed sights in Chilean Patagonia.

Lago Pehoe is a natural lake, fed by the Paine River and lakes upstream. The name Pehoe is derived from words in the native Tehuenches language meaning ‘hidden lake’. Likewise, the word paine means blue in that same tongue. A stunning 213-foot waterfall heralds the entrance of water from Nordenskjold Lake. The Salto Grande or Great Falls are often the destination of short hikes to the lake and can be seen even better from various lookout points along the shore. Another waterfall celebrates the exit of the Paine’s water into the riverbed where it continues its journey toward the sea. At least one small hotel offers lodgings along the lakeshore and is considered a major starting point for several hikes in the area. A small fleet of motor boats carries visitors to the far side of the 5,436-acre lake.

Most people arriving at Lago Pehoe come to tour the nearly 598,600 acres of Torres del Paine National Park. The park has been voted by National Geographic as the 5th most beautiful place in the world and holds a wealth of wildlife, unusual plants and spectacular geological formations. The Torres del Paine, the three peaks of the Paine massif, are a trio of strikingly steep needles of granite reaching to 8,200 feet. Grey Glacier is located eight miles from Lago Pehoe, and tourist guides take groups of visitors there regularly to admire the massive ice fields. Another favorite tour is to view the glacier by boat from the surface of Lago Grey and to watch it calve ice floes into the water. Increasingly, eco-tourism brings visitors to view the plant and animal life found here.

The area around Lago Pehoe is one of the places where the endangered guanacos are found in abundance. These small wild relatives of llamas and alpacas thrive on the sparse grasses and sedges found particularly in the wetlands bordering the lakes and rivers. Their main predator, the puma, is also found here. Foxes and the endangered Chilean huemul or South American deer, can also be found in the park. Torres del Paine Park is one of the rare breeding areas for the Andean condor. Other birds of prey which likely breed here are the Magellanic horned owl, black-chested buzzard-eagle, chimango caracara, austral pygmy-owl and cinereous harrier. Other unusual birds can be found in the park, including Darwin’s rhea, Chilean flamingo, coscoroba swan and Magellanic woodpecker.

Serious hikers often come prepared to spend several days hiking the many trails within Torres del Paine National Park. Due to the delicate ecosystem, all hikers must stay on marked trails and camp only in designated camping areas. Many of the campsites are very primitive and often free. Others have some rudimentary services and a fee is charged. There are a number of concessionaire-operated hotels, hostels and inns located along the Paine River. Although not usually up to European standards, the hotels are comfortable and usually have a restaurant. Food is an issue even for campers as no fires are allowed within the Park, and even camp stoves are prohibited in many of the campsites. Good planning and good maps are essential for camping here, and signing on with a tour guide will assure that one isn’t left unprepared.

All types of guided tours are available within the Park. Vehicle tours take visitors to some of the most popular sites. Horseback tours can lead less physically-fit tourists into areas they wouldn’t be able to walk. Canoe and rafting trips are led on the rivers in the area with guide and all necessary equipment furnished. However, seeing much of the park requires traveling by foot with sturdy hiking shoes and appropriate camping gear. Driving to the lake by car usually means starting from Punta Arenas, a trip of over four hours. The Argentina border route takes nearly as long and may require currency changes and border paperwork.

Visiting Lago Pehoe is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. A trusted travel agent and tour guide can make the trip enjoyable and memorable. It is best to make certain that any accommodations chosen are reserved in advance and that activities are seasonally appropriate and allowed. Remember that summer here are the months of December through February-and nothing much happens during the winter.

So, if you’re the type of traveler who enjoys a challenge, lives to visit out-of-the-way locations, and view sights few of your friends have seen, Lago Pehoe is for you!

Things to do at Lago Pehoe

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park

Lago Pehoe Photo Gallery

Lago Pehoe Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 5,436 acres

Shoreline Length: 25 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 112 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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