Queulat National Park (Chile)

Queulat National Park (Chile)

Mon, 10/19/2020 - 15:01
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Queulat National Park is located in the Aysén Region of southern Chile. It protects glacier-capped mountains and virgin evergreen Andean Patagonian forests. The park's centerpiece is the Queulat hanging glacier (Ventisquero Colgante).

Queulat National Park

Queulat National Park is located in the Aysén Region of southern Chile. It protects glacier-capped mountains and virgin evergreen Andean Patagonian forests. The region exhibits a cold temperate climate, with no dry season.

Created in 1983 and covering 154,093 ha (380,772 acres), the park is bordered by the Cisnes River in the south and by the Lago Rosselot National Reserve in the north.

The parklands are the ancestral territory of the Chono, a nomadic people that navigated the islands and channels in their canoes, moving between the south of Chiloé and the Taitao Peninsula. They hunted sea lions, fished and gathered shellfish and seaweed along the coast.

Queulat means "Sound of Waterfalls" in the Chono people's language. The region was discovered by the Jesuits in the eighteenth century while searching for the mythical "City of the Casesars."

Queulat National Park is dominated by the Patagonian Andes, with some elevations greater than 2,000 m (6,562 ft) above sea level. A portion of the Puyuhuapi Volcanic Group forms part of the park, specifically the area south of Risopatrón Lake.

The park contains two small ice fields, with glaciers of up to 12 km (7 mi) long. The main ice cap borders the northernmost part of the Puyuhuapi Channel, called Ventisquero Sound.

The largest glaciated area is Queulat ice cap, which encompasses about 80 sq km (31 sq mi) and contains the park's centerpiece, the Queulat hanging glacier (Ventisquero Colgante) at an elevation of 1,889 m (6,198 ft).

The second ice cap covers an area of approximately 40 sq km (15 sq mi) and is centered at an unnamed summit at an elevation of 2,255 m (7,398 ft).

The Carretera Austral runs through the middle of the park from which the hanging glacier and the various altitudinal zones of vegetation can be viewed. The roadway includes a stretch of hairpin turns named (Cuesta Queulat), a series of 21 switchbacks.

Other attractions in the park include:

  • Los Témpanos and Los Pumas Lagoons
  • Padre García and Cóndor Waterfalls
  • Lake Risopatrón

Flora

Queulat National Park is part of the Valdivian temperate forests ecoregion. Various portions of the park receive up to 4,000 mm (157 in) of precipitation annually. In this wet environment typical trees include coihue and tepa.

The park is refuge to hundreds of evergreen and Patagonian Andean species, including Coigüe de Magallanes, Ciprés de las Guaitecas (Pilgerodendron), Radal, Mañío hembra, Ulmo, Tepa, Ciruelilo, Canelo, Tepu, Lenga and Ñirre.

It's also possible to find enormous Nalcas (Chilean Rhubarb), Chaura, Chilco (Hardy Fuchsia), Michay Blanco and dozens of different species of ferns.

Fauna

In the southern portion of the park (Queulat mountain pass), wildlife includes mammals such as the pudú, kodkod and a variety of birds species including the Chucao tapaculo, Chilean pigeon, Magellanic woodpecker, black-throated huet-huet and thorn-tailed rayadito.

The northern sections of the park are home to nearshore wildlife including semi-aquatic mammals such as the southern river otter and coypu.

Birds found in the area include Magellan goose, Chiloé wigeon, yellow-billed pintail, red shoveler, flying steamer duck, rosy-billed pochard, red-gartered coot, ringed kingfisher, great egret, cocoi heron, black-crowned night heron, torrent duck, sedge wren, Chilean flicker and black-necked swan.