Lihué Calel National Park is located in La Pampa Province, Argentina. The terrain is characterized by a combination of mountains, plateaus, canyons, and rocky outcrops and is known for its grass tussocks, creating a dramatic and picturesque landscape.
Lihué Calel National Park
Lihué Calel National Park is located in the Lihue Calel Department, in the center of La Pampa Province in south-central Argentina. Created in 1977, it comprises an area of approximately 90,000 ha (222,395 acres) and is part of the Sierra de Lihué Calel mountain range.
The National Park is accessible by road and is approximately 125 km (77 mi) south of Santa Rosa, the capital of La Pampa Province.
The Sierra de Lihué Calel mountain range, from which the park takes its name, ranges in elevation from approximately 200 - 600 m (656 - 1,968 ft).
As part of the Pampas lowland plains region, the terrain in the park is characterized by a combination of mountains, plateaus, canyons, and rocky outcrops. It is known for its grass clumps, creating a dramatic and picturesque landscape. The hills are rocky volcanic formations of Precambrian origin.
Lihué Calel National Park has cultural importance as indigenous people, particularly the Huarpes, once inhabited it. Several archaeological sites within the park, including cave paintings and petroglyphs, provide insights into the region's indigenous history.
Flora and Fauna
Lihué Calel National Park is known for its diverse flora and fauna. It's home to various species of native vegetation, including Calden trees (Argentina's national tree), cacti, and scrublands.
As part of the Argentine espinal ecoregion, rainfall is scarce. However, the mountain range encourages the accumulation of water. Thus, there is plentiful wildlife in the area. It is also a popular destination for birdwatching, with over 150 species of birds recorded.
Montane forests are found at higher elevations within the park, dominated by species such as the caldén tree (Prosopis caldenia), a characteristic tree of the region. Other tree species include the algarrobo (Prosopis spp.), chañar (Geoffroea decorticans), and molle (Schinus molle).
In the lower-lying and drier areas of the park, xerophytic vegetation prevails, featuring drought-resistant plants adapted to arid conditions. Species like the jarilla (Larrea spp.), retama (Bulnesia retama), and chaguar (Bromelia hieronymi) can be found in these areas.
During the spring and early summer, Lihué Calel bursts into bloom with a colorful array of wildflowers with species like the amancay (Alstroemeria spp.), cardo santo (Eryngium spp.), and many others.
The guanaco, a wild llama relative, is one of the park's iconic mammals. They are often seen grazing in the open grasslands and hills of Lihué Calel.
The gray fox (Lycalopex griseus) and the culpeo fox (Lycalopex culpaeus) can be found in the park. These carnivores are known for their adaptability to various habitats.
Several armadillo species inhabit the park, including the large hairy armadillo (Chaetophractus villosus). They are well-adapted to the arid environments.
Lihué Calel is a haven for birdwatchers, with numerous avian species to observe, such as the rhea, which are large flightless birds resembling ostriches. Andean condors and various species of eagles, hawks, and owls can be spotted soaring overhead.
The National Park is home to various reptiles and amphibians, including lizards, snakes, and frogs. The most iconic reptile is the Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae).
The park's diverse ecosystems support many invertebrates, including butterflies, beetles, and spiders.
Lihué Calel National Park offers a range of recreational activities, including hiking, birdwatching, and photography. Several well-marked trails allow visitors to explore the park's diverse landscapes. Camping is permitted in designated areas, allowing visitors to spend more time in the park and enjoy its natural beauty.