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Reserva Nacional Formosa

Tucked near the far southwest corner of Formosa Province, on the north bank of the vermillion-colored Río Teuco, is Reserva Nacional Formosa, a 9,005-hectare (22,252-acre) park to preserve one of the last populations of giant armadillo in the country and the largest park defending the dry (or west) Chaco ecosystem. Though founded in 1968, the reserve had no on-site protection until 1986. Because of damage done during the interim, mainly from logging, cattle raising and the digging of a five-kilometer (3-mi) long canal from the river to Laguna Yema, the protected land was downgraded from national park to national reserve status.

Despite the destruction, Reserva Nacional Formosa still has the largest standing forest of holy wood (palo santo) in the country. Red quebracho (quebracho colorado), white quebracho (quebracho blanco), white floss silk or bottle trees (yuchán), white algarroba, palo amarillo, mistol , the leafless itín and cacti are also common. In the flood plain of the Río Teuco are woodlands of native willow and river alder.

The reserve has over 370 vertebrate species. Besides its emblematic giant armadillo, other fauna are capybara (carpincho), tapir, giant anteater (oso hormiguero), long-tailed otter (hurón mayor), Chacoan cavy (conejo de los palos), fishing bat (murciélago pescador), Argentine boa (lampalagua), and short-snouted caiman (yacaré overo). Keep an eye out for the colourful teyú lizard darting through the brush. Birdlife includes the black-legged seriema (chuña patas negras), turquoise-fronted parrot or talking parrot (loro hablador), solitary cacique (boyero negro), quebracho crested tinamou (martineta formoseña), and thornbirds (espinero).

Reserva Nacional Formosa is divided into two sectors, connected by Ruta Provincial 9. Sección Maradona, in the extreme east of the reserve, has only a ranger station. Sección Cassinera y Teuco, in the western part, is the most visited sector. It has a ranger station and campground (bathhouses, tables, fire pits; free). Here a self-guided interpretive trail, Monte Adentro, goes along the river and through the forest to a madrejón (oxbow lake) (Distance: 6 km / 3.6 mi, Difficulty: easy: Duration: 2.5 hr). A shorter route of this path can be explored (Distance: 1.2 km / 1 mi, Difficulty: easy: Duration: 1 hr). The rangers have a pamphlet that identifies flora species found on the trail (in Spanish and English).

Entrance into Reserva Nacional Formosa is free. Contact the guardaparques (rangers) upon arriving. If camping, take all supplies with you. The sun and heat are strong in most months. Stay hydrated, wear a hat and use sun screen. Insect repellent is also necessary. In summer, use boots to give added protection against poisonous snakes. (Three species reside in the park: rattlesnake, coral and yarará).

The reserve has a semi-arid, sub-tropical climate. The best time to visit is during the winter dry season, when temperatures average 12ºC (54ºF), with occasional night frosts. In summer, the heat can swell to 48ºC (119ºF) and 350-750 millimeters of rain falls (14-30 in).


Other places nearby Reserva Nacional Formosa: Clorinda, Parque Nacional Chaco, Las Lomitas , Formosa, Laguna Blanca, El Sauzalito , JJ Castelli, Ingeniero Juárez , Resistencia and Villa Río Bermejito .

By Lorraine Caputo

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

30 Jun 2010

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