Chaco National Park
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Tucked up in the northern Argentine province of Chaco lies the Chaco National Park, covering an area of about 15,000 hectares. The Park was created in 1954 to protect the biodiversity in the eastern area of the province, especially the quebracho colorado trees.
Because quebracho is such a robust wood, and very rich in tannin, it was once the victim of uncontrolled logging—for nearly a century. One company in particular had control over a large part of the Chaco region, and nearly decimated the species, putting it at great risk of extinction. Thanks to the creation of the Chaco National Park, that species, along with dozens of other types of flora and fauna, now thrive under the protection of the park.
The park is located in a humid eco-region, with a warm subtropical climate, and summer rains fluctuating between 750 and 1300 mm.
The park encompasses various types of landscape, including woodlands, savanna, marshes and lagoons. Because of the wide range of terrain, the amount of biodiversity within the park is astounding. The woodlands are formed by trees towering up to fifteen meters high, including a wide variety of native Argentine trees.
The lower stratum of the forest is covered by a species of bromeliads known as chaguares, which have strong, spiky spines in the edges of their leaves, making some of the woodland areas nearly impenetrable. These plants are found in especially dense areas surrounding the Negro River, which snakes through the park near the camping areas.
The park offers refuge to many larger animals, including cougars, yacarés (similar to alligators), armadillos, capybaras (a large rodent), guazunchos (a type of small deer), tapirs, and the carayá monkey. Following rain, one can often find the footprints of different large mammals winding through the park. It is also home to the coralina punteada, a colorful snake that spends a fair amount of time underground. The lagoons provide an amazing habitat for the myriad frogs that populate them in the summer, and the marshes are home to the caqueña, an aquatic turtle. In addition, there are over 340 species of birds, in every color imaginable.
The park boasts a large camping zone, with bathrooms, tables, drinkable water, and light. There are several footpaths that branch off from the camping area, making it very easy to see all the park has to offer. Near the lake named Panza de Cabra lie multiple campsites without bathrooms and electricity, offering a more natural experience.
Near the park, one can find the communities of Tobas and Mocovíes, who are descendents of the first known indigenous communities in this area. There is a main path through the park that can be traveled by car, from which you can see the quebracho coloradowoodlands for which the park was built.
From the main path are two pedestrian crossings: one 3 km path that takes hikers to two of the smaller lakes, with great birdwatching lookout points. The other is 1.5 km long, and starts near the campgrounds.
The park not only provides the protection necessary for a rich, thriving subtropical environment, but it provides the means to safely and conveniently visit the beauty that is Chaco National Park.
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