Huerquehue National Park is located in the La Araucanía region of south-central Chile. Situated in the foothills of the Andes, it is characterized by its lush, mountainous relief. Popular with hikers, its hills and streams enclose numerous lakes and lagoons with crystalline waters.
Huerquehue National Park
Huerquehue National Park is located in the La Araucanía region of south-central Chile. It is situated about 33 km (20 mi) east of Pucón and 145 km (90 mi) southeast of Temuca, in the foothills of the Andes, characterized by its lush, mountainous relief. Hills and streams enclose numerous lakes and lagoons with crystalline waters.
One of the most noteworthy features of the park are its ancient Araucaria (Araucaria araucana) forests. These are the backdrop for the clear lakes and lagoons that dot the park, including Tinquilco Lake, which lies in the lower portion of this protected area.
The park is situated between the Villarrica National Reserve to the west and the Hualalafquén National Reserve to the east. The national park encompasses 12,500 ha (30,888 acres) of mountainous terrain east of Caburgua Lake and has an elevation range of 720 to 2,000 m (2,362 to 6,561 ft) above sea level.
Huerquehue National Park was created on June 9, 1967; however, its origins date back to 1912 and the creation of "Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna Park", also known as "Colico", which encompassed 265,000 ha (655,000 acres). Today, that land is divided into various different parks and reserves.
Huerquehue National Park also belongs to the region of deciduous forests and within it, to the subregion of the Andean deciduous forests. The first subregion features the High-Andean deciduous forests with Araucaria araucana, while the second has the mixed Andean deciduous forest.
There are approximately 20 bodies of water within the park which belong to the hydrographic basin of the Toltén River. Most basins in this area are exorheic (open and closed lakes), both lentic (still waters) and lotic (flowing streams). The largest water courses are the rivers Renahue Blanco and Quinchol. There are also several permanent minor water courses.
The area of the park experiences two main seasonal climates throughout the year: a warm summer with less than four dry months and a cold, icy winter caused by the high altitude. The wettest months are from May to September, with an annual rainfall index of 2,045 mm (80 in).
Huerquehue National Park is a popular trekking area and some of the popular hiking trails include:
- Los Lagos Huerquehue: 10 km (6.2 mi)
- Quinchol: 8 km (5 mi)
- San Sebastian: 14 km (8.7 mi)
- Ñirrico: 4 km (2.5 mi)
- Aquila and Truful Waterfall: 4 km (2.5 mi)
Some of the protected species of fauna that can be found in the park include:
- Kodkod or Güiña (Leopardus guigna) (Endangered)
- Pudú: the world's smallest deer (Vulnerable)
- Geoxus or long-clawed mole mouse (Geoxus valdivianus (Rare)
- Culpeo or Andean Fox (Lycalopex culpaeus) - similar to the red fox, the culpeo is the second largest canid of the continent (Least concern)
- Darwin's frog or southern Darwin’s frog (Vulnerable)
Protected birds include:
- Peregrine falcon (Endangered)
- Chilean pigeon (Vulnerable)
- Magellanic woodpecker (Vulnerable)
- Condor (Rare)
- Black-necked swan
- Slender-billed parakeet or Choroy Parakeet