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Fuerte Esperanza

Fuerte Esperanza: Altitude: 142 m / 466 ft, Population: 895, Phone Code: 03722

The most direct way to Fuerte Esperanza and other points in El Impenetrable’s Hinterland is Ruta Nacional Juana Azurduy. The dirt highway, which is impossible with rain, begins just northwest of JJ Castelli. At Kilometer 32 is an almacén with basic food and drink supplies. At Kilometer 82 is the crossroads with Ruta Provincial (RP) 100, marked by Kiosko Juancito (food, drink). Many JJ Castelli-Nueva Pompeya busses turn north on RP 100 to RP 9, and on to Misión Nueva Pompeya.

Sixteen kilometers (10 mi) south on RP 100 is Reserva Ecoturística y Hostería Tantanacuy (in Pampa del Infierno: Sarmiento s/n, Tel.: 03732-49-7621 / 03722-1564-0705, E-mail: chacoagreste(at)remove-this.yahoo.com.ar, URL: www.chacoagreste.com.ar). Tantanacuy is the first ecotourism reserve in El Impenetrable. Interpretive trails meander through the 2,500 hectares preserving dry Chaco forest. The intimate hostel provides complete services for its guests, including a menu or regional foods. Tantanacuy offers multi-day packages exploring the natural and human history of the area, visiting Misión Nueva Pompeya, Wichí and Q’om communities, and the nearby provincial nature reserves. It also has day and night hikes into the Chaco wilderness to observe the flora and fauna, and to stargaze. Reservations should be made at least 15 days in advance (minimum 2 persons).

From Kiosko Juancito, Ruta Nacional Juana Azurduy continues west toward Fuerte Esperanza. After 10 kilometers (6 mi) is Picada 20, the turnoff for Reserva Natural Loro Hablador. After 18 kilometers (11 mi) one reaches the 19,000-heactare park that protects virgin forests of red quebracho (quebracho colorado, Schinopsis balansae), white quebracho (quebracho blanco, Aspidosperma quebracho-blanco), algarrobo (Prosopis spp.), itín (Prosopis kuntzei) and mistol (Ziziphus mistol). Among the fauna species are jaguar (yaguareté, Pantera onca), giant armadillo (tatú carreta, Priodontes maximus), gray brocket deer (guazuncho, Mazama gouazoubira), Chacoan cavy (conejo de los palos, Pediolagus salinicola), southern three-banded armadillo (mataco, Tolypeutes matacus) and peccary (pecarí, Tayassu spp), as well as abundant varietes of birds, including the reserve’s signature Turquoise-fronted Parrot or Talking Parrot (loro hablador, Amazona aestiva). At Reserva Natural Loro Hablador is a ranger station (Tel.: 03722-1566-0761) which provides 20 campsites with electricity, bathhouses, grills, tables and other amenities. Two trails, one 300 meters (984 ft) long and the other 2.5 kilometers (1.5 mi) long, traverse the forest. Hikes are conducted by the rangers and local guides.

The nearest place with hotel lodging is Fuerte Esperanza, 40 kilometers (24 mi) away (58 km / mi from the Km 82 crossroads). Fuerte Esperanza is a young town, founded only in 1978 to help develop El Impenetrable. It is the only town in the region not along the Río Tueco or Río Bermejito. With the lack of the rivers’ influence, temperatures are lower, reaching only to 46ºC (115ºF) in summer, and falling to -6ºC (21ºF) in winter. Summers are wet. Annual precipitation is 715 millimeters (28 in). Just outside the small city is Reserva Natural Provincial Fuerte Esperanza, a park protecting 28,220 heactares of dry Chaco woodlands. One distinctive feature of this reserve is it has the oldesr rocks in the region and fossils. The forest is predominantly red quebracho, white quebracho, itín, algarroba, mistol and guayacán (Caesalpinia paraguariensis) with dense, thorny underbrush. Living in this realm are jaguar, Geoffrey’s cat (gato montés, Oncifelis geoffreyi), giant armadillo, southern three-banded armadillo, gray brocket deer, Chacoan cavy, peccary, giant anteater (oso hormiguero, Myrmecophaga tridactyla), Argentine boa (lampalagua, Boa constrictor occidentalis) and Turquoise-fronted Parrot. Reserva Natural Provincial Fuerte Esperanza has no hiking trails.

Information about the provincial nature reserves may be obtained in Resistencia from the Dirección de Fauna, Parques y Ecología (remedio de Escalada 46, Tel.: 03722-42-1428, E-mail: faunachaco(at)remove-this.gigared.com).

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Other places nearby Fuerte Esperanza: Villa Río Bermejito , JJ Castelli, El Sauzalito and Misión Nueva Pompeya.







By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

12 May 2010

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