Villa Epecuén: exploring the Argentinian ghost town

The former tourist resort of Villa Epecuén was swallowed by salt water when the neighbouring lake burst its banks. A quarter of a century later, the waters started to recede, revealing the remains of this once thriving town

Ghost towns hold great fascination, whether it’s the gruesome reality of Pripyat near the Chernobyl nuclear plant, or the abandoned villages of America’s “wild west”.

Villa Epecuén, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina, has a mystique all of its own though. This once bustling tourist town, on the shores of the saltwater Lake Epecuén, was a victim of its own success – the therapeutic water that visitors came to bathe in swallowed Epecuén whole when heavy rain caused the lake to overflow on 10 November 1985. Over 20 days, the entire town was gradually submerged in up to 10m of corrosive water.

Over a quarter of a century later, the waters began to recede, revealing the fractured remains of Villa Epecuén, peppered with rusted cars and gnarled trees, last seen in 1985. The town is now a tourist attraction once again, but for very different reasons.

It also features in a new Red Bull documentary by Dave Sowerby, who filmed Scottish-born professional street trials rider Danny MacAskill exploring the remains of Villa Epecuén on his bike. The film is introduced by Epecuén resident Pablo Novac, then follows MacAskill as he ramps up the drama  via tricks and stunts on an eery spin through the city. See the full film at epecuen.redbull.com.

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