Until very recently, the greatest attraction offered by Villa El Chocón was to have been the setting where the remains of the dinosaurs that dwelled in the area in the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic Age have been found. The topic of dinosaurs remains an enigma still being decoded by paleontologists both in Argentina and worldwide.
Lying on National Route 237, 80 kilometers away from the City of Neuquén, Villa El Chocón is related to the High Valley of the Negro River to the northwest and to the Patagonian Lake District towards the southwest.
Nestled in a steppe with dry windy climate, very hot summers and harsh winters, its name derives from the Mapuche tongue and it stands for “man soaking in water”. Villa El Chocón is a small developing settlement.
When in 1967 the mix capital company called Hidronor S.A. began constructing the Chocón-Cerros Colorados hydroelectric dam, a small hamlet was organized in the area to lodge the workers. Today, the station provides electrical power to a large area in the country and the village still stands.
The conclusion of the works on the dam coincided with the discovery of the remains of a carnivorous dinosaur in the area: Giganotosaurus carolinii, the largest in the world. The great amount and quality of dinosaur pieces found there have made a difference and Ernesto Bachmann Museum is where the topic is studied and spread by paleontologists.
The town faces Ezequiel Ramos Mexía Reservoir, which occupies an area of 816 square kilometers and contains the water for the hydroelectric power station. This huge water body has lured tourism. It is an invitation to sail, visit its giant walls (Los Gigantes) and fish.
Lately, in addition to the original neighborhoods, new constructions have been raised on the lake shores. They are mainly villas and their owners come along on the weekends from the City of Neuquén and Alto Valle (the high valley).
The accommodation and gastronomic offer has been increased and several tourist operators provide lake outings of various kinds. Besides, there is a marina and land is being constantly subdivided for sale. Its 1,500 inhabitants live on tourism, civil servant positions and jobs at the hydroelectric power station.
A new village presents its special features year round.