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RIO PILCOMAYO NATIONAL PARK
Province of Formosa

This national park was created in 1951 to protect a series of marshes, lakes, palm groves, gallery forest and grasslands typical of the wet or eastern chaco biome. It covers an area of 47,754 ha in the NE of the province of Formosa up against the Pilcomayo river, the border with Paraguay. It has been included in the list of internationally important wetlands (RAMSAR Convention).

NATURAL ASPECTS
Because of its flatness there are many marshes, lakes and floodable grasslands in the park. The whole is liable to flooding in the rainy season (Summer months) and dries out in Winter. Slightly higher elevations support chaco woods on hummocks - all this leads to a nice variety of habitats with the resulting richness of Biodiversity. The "white" palm, also known as the Caranday (Copernicia alba) grows to 14m in height. Its foliage is a greyish green. Many species of birds use it for their nesting - monk parakeets, the pale-crested woodpecker and the black-hooded parakeet, the last two in hollows in the trunks. The large free-tailed bulldog bat roosts in the hanging dead fronds. In these open spaces one can encounter rheas or groups of the red-legged seriema. The manned wolf is frequently seen here, a mousing "fox-on-stilts" which is endangered everywhere. It is of solitary habits, timid and nocturnal, resting up in patches of dense grass during the day. Its blackish mane, huge ears, reddish coat, a slender muzzle and a short white tail are enough characteristics to recognise it by.
The patches of woods and gallery forests are home to three species of monkey - the capuchin, the howler and the night-monkey with its huge eyes and a startling facial pattern. Also found is the tree-anteater feeding on wasps and termite nests on high, coati-mundis which usually live gregariously. Trogons, the great rufous woodcreeper, the streak-capped antwren as well as a variety of other birds are notable in the park's woodland, while in the wetlands three species of stork, and herons hunt for reptiles, frogs and fish.
The largest body of open water in the park is Laguna Blanca, on the southern border. It is some 800 ha in size. Two species of cayman live here, both threatened. There is a water boa (curiyú) and other watersnakes such as the aggressive ñacaniná (Cyclagas sp). In the dense beds of broad-leafed emergent plants aquatic mammals such as the capybara hide up during the day.

HOW TO GET THERE
Route 11 runs up the western side of the rivers as far as Clorinda. Thence west along route 86 to Naick Neck on the southern border of the park. From here four kilometers along a dirt track takes one to Laguna Blanca where there is a camping area and bathroom facilities. Also a walkway to a bathing area and a ranger station.
Further west, from the village of Laguna Blanca, there is another way into the park along a dirt road which gets to the ranger station at Estero Poí after some 7 km. There is a road right across the park to the Pilcomayo gallery forest with a ranger station half way along. Park HQ are in Laguna Blanca - for information and permission.

OF INTEREST TO THE VISITOR
Two nature trails are sited at the recreational area at the Laguna Blanca - one on a walkway to the water's edge through special reed and rush beds where a quiet approach may reveal the large capybara. There are lots of little things to look for here. The open water is for boating, but no motors.
* There is a trail through the chaco woods here as also at
* Estero Poí at the other end of this lake, "Los Secretos del Monte", some 1200m long, a vegetation trail.
There is a camping area near Estero Poí.
* Along the road to the Pilcomayo there is another trail known as "De Quién me hablan?" from the half-way ranger station Guardaparque Ricardo Fonzo - palm savannahs, marshes, islands of woods, gallery forests as far as the river itself, some 5000m long.

 


 

Thanks to APN - Administración de Parques Nacionales


 

 

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