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Parque Nacional Chaco

North-northwest of Resistencia is one of Argentina’s most important reserves of red quebracho forest, Parque Nacional Chaco. Originally intended to be called Parque Nacional Quebracho, the raison d’être of this 15,000-hectare (37,065-ac) national park founded in 1954 was to protect those hardwood trees from intensive logging. But the land is much more than quebracho: it's a near-intact Wet Chaco ecosystem of forest galleries along the Río Negro, complete with savannahs studded with caranday white palm and marshes full of heron, jacana, stork and other waterfowl.

Parque Nacional Chaco still has 56 species of mammal, accounting for 49% of the species for this ecosystem; 341 varieties of birds (92%); 36 types of reptiles (45%); 28 varieties of amphibians (57%) and 38 kinds of fish (25%). Endangered species include jaguar (yaguareté, Panthera onca), grey brocket deer (guazuncho, Mazama gouazoubira), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), maned wolf (agaurá guazú, Chrysocyon brachyurus), long-tailed otter (eirá or hurón mayor, Lontra longicaudis), tapir (Tapirus terrestres) and short-snouted caiman (yacaré overo, Caiman latirostris). As well, the park has important populations of capybara (carpincho, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), coatí (Nasua narica), puma (Felis concolor), yaguarundí (Herpailurus yaguarondi), collared peccari (morito or pecarí de collar, Pecari tajacu) and tegu lizard (Tupinambis teguixin), plus several troops of black howler monkeys (carayá, Alouatta caraya).

Bird species living in the forest canopy and underbrush are Bare-faced curassow (Muitú, Crax fasciolata), Greater rhea (�'andú,Rhea americana), Turquoise-fronted parrot or Talking parrot (loro hablador, Amazona aestiva) and Undulated tinamou (Tataupá listado, Crypturellus undulatus). In the wetlands, Speckled rail (Burrito enano, Coturnicops notatus), herons and storks may be seen.

The red quebracho tree (quebracho colorado chaqueño, Schinopsis balansae) is rebounding well. Other notable flora species are guayacán (Caesalpinia paraguariensis), white quebracho (quebracho blanco, Aspidosperma quebracho-blanco), algarroba (Prosopis spp) and orchids. Some people are allergic to the scent of the quebracho flowers, which bloom November-March.

Several hiking trails lead visitors through this Wet Chaco gem. Near the main ranger station is Sendero Río Negro, a loop where there are black howler monkeys, crab-eating foxes

Water turtles and a bevy of birds are spotted (distance: 800 m / 0.5 mi, difficulty: easy, duration: 20 min). Five kilometers (3 mi) north of the ranger station (guardaparque), along the vehicle road, is a trail to Lagunas Carpincho and Yacaré. There are lookout towers (miradores) for observing wildlife at both lagoons (miradores). South from the guardaparque, a rough dirt road leads to a picnic area and viewpoint on the shores of Laguna Panza de Cabra (12 km / 6.2 mi).

The main access for Parque Nacional Chaco is five kilometers (3 mi) from Capitán Solari. The ranger headquarters and visitor’s station are on the south bank of the Río Negro. The park has two free campgrounds. The one at the main ranger station has bathhouses with hot water, wash basins, fire pits, tables, mosquito refuge, potable water and electricity. More basic sites are at Lago Curiyú. Capitán Solari has no formal hotels or restaurants. Ask around for rooms to rent and families who may fix meals, or Sr. Coco Ávalos at Comedor Quincho. Basic provisions may be purchased in Solari. Upon arriving in Capitán Solari, stop by the national park office (intendencia) (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Tel: 03725-49-9161, E-mail:

The park has a humid, subtropical climate. It is drier and cooler April-October, with some frost in deep winter. The majority of rain, totalling 900-1,100 millimeters (35-43 in) per year, falls November-March when temperatures top 40ºC (104ºF). Mosquitoes are especially vicious during the wet season.


Other places nearby Parque Nacional Chaco: Parque Nacional Río Pilcomayo, Villa Río Bermejito , Las Lomitas , Bañado La Estrella, Ingeniero Juárez , Parque Provincial Pampa Del Indio, Reserva Nacional Formosa, El Sauzalito , Misión Nueva Pompeya and Roque Sáenz Peña.

By Lorraine Caputo

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

07 Jun 2010

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