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Monumento Nacional Dos Lagunas

Monumento Natural (MN) Dos Lagunas was established in 1967 as a Parque Nacional de Turismo, and changed to its present status in 1982. This 180.7-hectare (446.5-acre) reserve is located between two lagoons, El Toro and Escondida. These two lagunas are some of the very few in the Aysén Region that have not been subjected to introduced species. Surrounded by agricultural and cattle farms, as well as woodlands, MN Dos Lagunas protects a vital nesting ground for birds. It also preserves an important transition from the Cadudifolio forest to the Patagonian steppe. Its climate is similar to that of the city of Coyhaique, although the park’s altitude makes for slightly lower temperatures and more snow.


The major flora found in MN Dos Lagunas are ñire (Antarctic beech, Nothofagus antarctica), calafate (Magellan barberry, Berberis buxifolia), frutilla silvestre (wild strawberry, Fregaria chiloensis), pasto miel (Yorkshire fog, Holcus lanatus) and many varieties of white and yellow orchids, including claveles del campo (Mutisia subulata) of an orange-rose hue. Also present are species unique to the Patagonian steppe, such as the neneo (Mulinum espinoso), coirones (Festuca spp, Stipa spp), cepa de caballo (beggarweed, Desmodium incanum) and pimpinela (Lycopodium paniculatum). There are also many tree parasites, like clavel del viento (false mistletoe, Misodendrum punctalatum). Roaming through the woodlands and fields are the zorro colorado (Patagonian fox, Lycalopex culpaeus), chingue (Molina's hog-nosed skunk, Conepatus chinga) and armadillo (big hairy armadillo, Chaetophractus villosus). In the winter pumas (Puma concolor) are seen here, hunting liebres (common hare, Lepus capensis). Among the numerous avifauna are the Carpintero Negro, (Magellanic Woodpecker, Campephilus magellanicus), Carpinterito (Striped Woodpecker, Picoides lignarius), Pitio (Chilean Flicker, Colaptes pitius), Cachaña (Austral Parakeet, Enicognathus ferrugineus), Zorzal (Austral Thrush, Turdua falklandii), Rayadito (Thorn-tailed Rayadito, Aphrastura spinicauda), Chuncho (Austral Pygmy Owl, Glaucidium nanum) and Tiuque (Caracara, Milvago chimango). The lagoons are awash with birds, as well. Focus your binoculars on the Tagua (Red-gartered Coot, Fulica armillata), Pato Jergón (Yellow-billed Pintail, Anas georgica), Huala (Great Grebe, Podiceps major), Huairavo (Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax), Bandurria (Buff-necked Ibis, Theristicus caudatus) and Gaviota Andina (Andean Gull, Larus serranus). The waters contain fish of the Galaxia genus.


The park has only one entry point. Several trails begin from the campground. One is a sendero interpretivo to the shores of Laguna El Toro (Distance: 1 km / 0.6 mi, Difficulty: easy, Duration: 20 min). The other is a path that goes around the base of a hill (Distance: 2 km / 1.2 mi, Difficulty: easy-medium, Duration: 1 hr), which then connects with the Sendero Laguna Escondida to a viewpoint at that lagoon (Distance: 6 km / 3.6 mi, Difficulty: medium, Duration: 2.5 hr).


Foreign adults pay $2 and children $1; Chilean adults pay $1.60 and children $0.60. The park is open all year 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m., except for those camping overnight (10 sites, $7 per tent, up to six persons). You must bring water. Take precautions against the hanta virus.


Other places nearby Monumento Nacional Dos Lagunas: Hornopirén Village, Reserva Nacional Coyhaique, Puerto Aysén, Puerto Guadal, Parque Nacional Queulat, Reserva Nacional Río Simpson, Reserva Nacional Jeínemeni, Parque Nacional Hornopirén, Villa Santa Lucía and Puerto Cisnes.

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 Jul 2009

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