Puyehue National Park (Chile)

Puyehue National Park (Chile)

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 14:43
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Puyehue National Park is in southern Chile's Los Ríos and Los Lagos regions. Located in the southern Andes and dominated by the Puyehue volcano, Chile's most famous National Park features natural thermal springs, volcanoes, and evergreen forests.

Puyehue National Park

Puyehue National Park is in southern Chile's Los Ríos and Los Lagos regions within the province of Osorno. It boasts 89,000 ha (220,000 acres) of natural thermal springs, volcanoes, and evergreen forests. It is located in the southern part of the Andes mountain range.

The National Park forms part of the Bosques Templados Lluviosos de los Andes Australes Biosphere Reserve. It is dominated by the Puyehue volcano, Cordón Caulle, and Antillan Group (a volcanic group of small cones, craters and stratovolcanoes).

Puyehue National Park is Chile's most popular, with approximately 400,000 visitors annually. The Park includes a hotel with a thermal complex, a lodging house, cabins, and campsites.

The National Park is divided into three main areas:

  • Aguas Calientes: features natural thermal baths and hiking trails.

  • Anticura: features the Puyehue volcano, the El Puma lookout point, the Cordón Caulle and hot springs, a volcanic area, and a strawberry field called the Pampa de Frutilla, the Salto de la Princesa, a waterfall of an inlet of the Golgol river, and an 800-year-old forest of coigüe trees, as well as recreational trails.

  • Antillanca: features Raihuén Crater and Mirador Hill, the Las Gaviotas River (Río Las Gaviotas), and the Rupanco Lake (Lago Rupanco). There is also skiing at the Antillanca ski center, on the slopes of the Casablanca volcano.

The Golgol River and the Las Gaviotas River are the two main waterways in the Park. In addition, the Chanleufú River also flows through the Park.

Two tributaries of the Golgol include Anticura and Pajaritos, which flow into Lake Puyehue outside the Park. Five lakes inside the Park include Constancia, Gris, Paraíso, Lake Berlin, and part of the Rupanco Lake.

Puyehue National Park is rainy almost all year long, although the rainiest months are between March and September. During the winter and spring, there is snow on the ground. The average annual temperature is 8°C (46°F), rising in the summer months to between 10° and 18°C (50° and 64°F). The average annual rainfall is 450 mm (17 in.).

Flora and Fauna

Flora in the lower parts of the Park is that of Valdivian temperate rain forest and is similar to that of its southern neighbor, Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park.

Temperate evergreen forests occur at lower elevations. Species of trees include coigüe (Nothofagus dombeyi) and the common ulmo (Eucryphia cordifolia), olivillo (Aextoxicon punctatum) and tineo (Weinmannia trichosperma). The underbrush has abundant bushes, ferns, moss, and lichens, giving it great forest richness.

At higher altitudes, there are coigüe woods with tepa (Laureliopsis philippiana) and mañío (Saxegothaea conspicua), which later became the dominant species. Pure stands of Nothofagus betuloides and pumilio are found below the tree line.

Also found are forests of coigües de Magallanes (Nothofagus betuloides), with dense underbrush (Nothofagus pumilio), a species of deciduous leaves that become reddish during autumn. Communities of marshes called "mallines" can be observed, covered with thick moss.

Other tree species found here include (Nothofagus antarctica), a species of law brushwood, and cypress of Guaitecas (Pilgerodendron uviferum).

Mammals include the puma, gray fox (pseudalopex griseus), the quique (galictis cuja) or ferret, the coypu (Myocastor coypus), the güiña (Felis guigna) or wild cat, the chingue (Conepatus chinga), skunks, and vizcachas.

Puyehue National Park is also a bird-watching destination with sightings of the torrent duck (pato correntino), the Magellanic woodpecker (carpintero negro), the Chilean pigeon (torcaza), the hued-hued (huet-huet), the Andean condor, the great grebe (huala), the house wren (chercán) and the buff-necked ibis (bandurria).