Sierra de las Quijadas National Park
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Parque Nacional Sierra de las Quijadas, San Luis
Not only a National Park, but a Provincial Park and National Reserve, as well, the Sierra de las Quijadas is an Argentine jewel in the province of San Luis. The national park was created in 1991 to conserve environments that are representative of the Dry Chaco and Monte regions, and to preserve its archeological and paleontological sites. This area corresponds to the driest in Argentina, and the vegetation changes throughout the park, becoming less diverse in the south, as the cacti and carob trees slowly disappear.
The park is 150,000 hectares, and its eco-regions are Monte de Llanuras and Mesetas, one of the desert ecosystems of South America. Its 150,000 hectares are graced with rich colors and exotic formations, and this natural miracle has become a prime attraction for visitors.
The intriguing sierras are a result of the elevation of conjoined layers that was produced millions of years ago, combined with the local winds, which have produced valleys and gorges that reveal different colors, as well as the unique shapes that characterize the area, said to be “wind-sculpted”. A fascinating sample of this natural process is called Potrero de la Aguada, a succession of grades, and cutouts that captivate the gaze and the sensations.
The scarce vegetation is characterized by various cacti and trees that are adapted to the dry ground. Among the local fauna are many species that are in danger of extinction, such as the mountain lion, distinct foxes, the puma and the guanaco, a national treasure. There is also a vibrant birdlife that inhabits the area, including the falcon, condor, ñandú, yellow cardinal, black-neck swan and red eagle, among others. All of this combined makes the park an irresistible attraction for anyone who loves nature.
With the same care it gives to the exotic vegetation that is able to withstand such a harsh environment, and to the varied animal life, the Sierra de las Quijadas National Park also strives to conserve the fossil remains of the little-known prehistoric animals that once roamed these lands. There are also important archeological sites, pertaining to indigenous cultures, such as Los Hornillos which was part of the Huarpe culture.
The park can be accessed from the city of San Luis along RN 147. You will come across a dirt road that will lead you into the partk; though the access to the park is not well marked, so you must be attentive when driving in. After entering the park, you will drive for about 8 kilometers before reaching Potrero de la Aguada. The area is still not equipped with the services necessary for the visitor, so it is recommended to come well stocked with water and sun protection. There is a small store along the access route to Potrero de Aguada, though. Other national parks can also be found in the same region, for more info check this Argentina travel guide index.
There are several different routes that can be walked once in the park, lasting from one to five hours. There is also an self-guided plant life tour, which can help you better get to know the stunning surroundings.