- 1 Introduction to Ansenuza National Park
- 2 Geological and Climatic Features
- 3 Biodiversity in Ansenuza
- 4 Areas to Visit
- 5 Visitor Information
- 6 Socioeconomic Impact of Ansenuza National Park
- 7 Threats and Challenges to Ansenuza National Park
- 8 Research and Conservation in Ansenuza
- 9 Photo Gallery
- 10 Referencias
Ansenuza, a national park in Argentina that unveils an unparalleled wealth of biodiversity and captivating landscapes. This article will guide you through its beauty and uniqueness, and invites adventurers to explore one of the nation’s mightiest hidden treasures.
Introduction to Ansenuza National Park
Located in the northeastern part of the Córdoba province in Argentina, Ansenuza National Park (in Spanish: Parque Nacional Ansenuza) occupies an extensive area encompassing the departments of Río Seco, Tulumba, Río Primero, and San Justo. It borders the north with the province of Santiago del Estero. Near its eastern boundary, you’ll find towns like Morteros, Brinkmann, and La Paquita, while to the south are Obispo Trejo, La Puerta, Las Saladas, Villa Fontana, La Para, Marull, Miramar, Balnearia, Altos de Chipión, and La Paquita. On the western side, the nearby towns along its border include Villa Rosario del Saladillo, Puesto de Castro, and Villa Candelaria. Additionally, within the swampy area of the Río Dulce, you’ll find the town of La Rinconada.
The area where the park is located constitutes the lowest part of an endorheic basin that extends across the provinces of Córdoba, Santiago del Estero, Tucumán, and Salta. It is situated approximately 150 km northeast of the city of Córdoba, the provincial capital with a population of 1,300,000 inhabitants. Along the shores of the lagoon, only one city is settled, Miramar, with a population of 2,164 inhabitants.
The park’s landscape is characterized by a fluvial-lacustrine depression, which includes the Mar Chiquita Lagoon or Sea of Ansenuza, as well as the swamps of the Río Dulce and the mouths of the Primero or Suquía River, Segundo or Xanaes River, and other scattered watercourses in the region.
History and Park Creation
The park was created with the purpose of protecting and conserving the unique biodiversity of the region, as well as its distinctive wetland landscape. Ansenuza National Park has a history dating back to 1994 when it was designated as the Bañados del Río Dulce y Laguna de Mar Chiquita Multiple Use Reserve. At that time, it was part of the System of Protected Natural Areas of the Province of Córdoba and was managed by the provincial government. This reserve aimed to conserve the region’s biodiversity and utilize its resources sustainably.
Under the administrative jurisdiction of the Secretary of Environment and Climate Change of the Province of Córdoba, various conservation and control activities were developed in the area. A corps of provincial park rangers was established in 2000, and outposts were implemented in several nearby towns, such as Miramar, Morteros, La Para, Rosario del Saladillo, La Rinconada, and Villa Candelaria. These actions enabled monitoring of commercial fishing, control of adjacent lands and islands, and overall protection of the area.
On March 6, 2017, the Province of Córdoba and the National Parks Administration signed a cooperation agreement to establish the National Park at Laguna Mar Chiquita or Ansenuza, located in the dry Chaco ecoregion. This agreement was approved by provincial decree and provincial law in September 2017. Subsequently, in May 2017, a bill was introduced in the National Congress to transform the reserve into a national park.
The creation of Ansenuza National Park received a significant boost in November 2018 when the Wyss Foundation donated $5.8 million for the acquisition of lands north of Laguna Mar Chiquita, which would be added to the national park. Finally, on May 8, 2021, the Minister of Environment of the Nation officially announced the future creation of Ansenuza National Park.
The park creation process continued, and on August 24, 2021, the Legislature of the Province of Córdoba passed the law transferring the necessary lands to the National State for the formation of the national park. This important step paved the way for the protection and conservation of Ansenuza’s rich biodiversity and captivating landscapes, turning it into one of the nation’s most hidden treasures.
Total Protected Area
With an impressive expanse of 661,416 hectares, this park covers the renowned Mar Chiquita Lagoon or Sea of Ansenuza.
The park encompasses the stunning wetlands of the Dulce River, also known as the Salí or Petri River, along with the dazzling Mar Chiquita Lagoon. These wetlands are recognized as internationally important areas under the Ramsar Convention, a global treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. The region is an endorheic basin, meaning its waters are saline. The abundance and diversity of aquatic bird species that find refuge in this marvelous environment are noteworthy.
Getting to Ansenuza
Access to Ansenuza can be done by both car and public transportation from the nearest city, Miramar.
Geological and Climatic Features
Overview of the Park’s Geology
Ansenuza stands out for its varied terrain, which includes wetlands, gallery forests, and savannas. It is characterized by its diverse geology, resulting in a variety of landscapes and ecosystems. Firstly, there are the wetlands, which are a fundamental part of the park’s geography. These wetlands, such as the Dulce River swamps and the Mar Chiquita Lagoon, are areas of great importance for biodiversity and harbor a wide range of aquatic species and migratory birds.
In addition to wetlands, the park features gallery forests. These forests are found along the banks of rivers and streams that cross the protected area. They are a source of life and refuge for many plant and animal species, providing a picturesque and shaded landscape within the park.
Another type of landscape present in Ansenuza is the savannas. These open areas are dominated by grasslands and scattered shrubs, creating a unique environment in the park. Savannas offer habitats for a variety of species, including herbivores and predators, and are ideal places for wildlife observation.
Park’s Climate and Seasonal Variations
Mar Chiquita, the lagoon that is part of Ansenuza National Park, features an oceanic climate. This climatic feature is distinguished by the presence of rainfall throughout all months of the year. The average annual temperature in the area is around 26°C, and the average annual precipitation reaches 422 mm. It’s important to mention that there are approximately 256 rainless days per year, indicating periods of drought in the region. The average humidity is around 61%, and the UV Index, indicating the intensity of ultraviolet radiation, reaches a moderate level of 5. These climatic conditions contribute to the specific ecosystem of the area and have an impact on the flora and fauna found in Ansenuza National Park. The park enjoys a temperate climate for most of the year, with rainfall concentrated in the summer months.
Biodiversity in Ansenuza
It houses a diverse ecosystem that includes the wetlands of the Dulce River swamps and the mirror of water of the Mar Chiquita Lagoon, recognized as a Hemispheric Importance Site within the Hemispheric Network of Shorebird Reserves (RHRAP) and designated as a Ramsar Site due to its status as an internationally important wetland. The park also encompasses a variety of environments such as Chaco woodland, saline shrublands, grasslands, muddy beaches, permanent and temporary rivers and lagoons.
The park’s vegetation is influenced by the dynamics of water pulses and fluctuations in water level and salinity, as the closed basin of the park is fed by the Dulce, Suquía, and Xanaes rivers. The park’s flora ranges from tree species like carob trees and quebracho trees to formations such as grasslands, bulrushes, and reed beds. Additionally, there are shrublands with halophytic species adapted to saline conditions, as well as aquatic vegetation.
Ansenuza National Park is a bird paradise, as it harbors 66% of all registered migratory and shorebird species in Argentina. This represents about 36% of the country’s total avifauna, with 380 recorded species, and 85% of the species listed for the Province of Córdoba. The lagoon and wetlands are especially important as stopovers or final destinations for migratory birds, attracting up to half a million individuals each year.
The park is also a refuge for all three South American flamingo species, making it a priority site for the conservation of high Andean flamingos in the Wetlands Network of Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru.
As for mammals, typical species of the Chaco woodland can be found, such as the collared peccary, the yaguarundi, and the Pampean gray fox, among others. The park also protects threatened species such as the terrestrial turtle, the river otter, and the maned wolf, thus contributing to their conservation.
Ansenuza is home to a wide range of endemic species, including various varieties of birds, mammals, and plants. These species are unique to this region and are not found anywhere else in the world. Among the endemic birds, notable species include the Andean Flamingo and the Giant Coot. As for mammals, there are the plains fox and the Chacoan hairy armadillo, among others. Additionally, the park hosts endemic flora adapted to its specific environment. These endemic species highlight the importance of conserving and protecting this unique ecosystem in Ansenuza.
Migratory Birds and Their Importance
The park also serves as an important stopover for numerous species of migratory birds. These birds use the park during migrations as a temporary refuge and resting site while traveling long distances. Some of the iconic migratory birds that visit the park include the white-rumped sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis), the red knot (Calidris canutus), the sanderling (Calidris alba), and the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica). These birds travel from the northern hemisphere to the south or vice versa, utilizing the park’s natural resources to feed and replenish energy before continuing their journey. The presence of these migratory birds not only enriches the park’s avifaunal diversity but also underscores the importance of protecting natural habitats and ensuring their conservation for the benefit of these species and the balance of ecosystems in general.
The flora in Ansenuza is as varied as its fauna, with a mixture of species characteristic of wetland and savanna ecosystems. In wetlands, you can find species such as bulrushes (Schoenoplectus californicus), cattails (Typha spp.), and papyrus (Cyperus spp.), which thrive in aquatic areas and provide shelter for various bird species and aquatic life. In the savannas, there are shrub species like carob trees (Prosopis spp.) and white quebracho trees (Aspidosperma quebracho-blanco), as well as grasses and grasslands that adapt to the drier conditions of the environment. This combination of wetland and savanna species creates a unique landscape and provides diverse habitats for the park’s flora and fauna.
Areas to Visit
Mar Chiquita Lagoon
The Mar Chiquita Lagoon is one of the most prominent points of interest within Ansenuza National Park. This imposing lagoon, also known as the Sea of Ansenuza, offers visitors a captivating landscape and rich biodiversity. With its saline waters and extensive beaches, it is home to numerous species of aquatic birds and offers the opportunity to enjoy bird watching and beautiful sunsets. Additionally, its therapeutic properties and the uniqueness of being Argentina’s largest saltwater body make it a place of great interest for nature lovers and those seeking tranquility.
Otamendi Natural Monument
The Otamendi Natural Monument is another fascinating point of interest located within Ansenuza National Park. This monument is a protected area that encompasses an important biodiversity reserve in the region. With a wide variety of environments, including wetlands, forests, and watercourses, the Otamendi Natural Monument offers visitors the opportunity to explore nature in its full splendor. Here, you can take hikes along natural trails, observe birds, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the landscapes. Additionally, the monument is home to a large number of flora and fauna species, some of which are endemic and endangered, making it a site of great importance for conservation efforts.
There are numerous well-marked hiking trails available for visitors, catering to all skill levels:
- Aves Mirador Trail: This hiking trail takes you to a strategically located viewpoint where you can observe a wide variety of birds in their natural habitat. The trail traverses different landscapes, including wetlands and gallery forests, providing an opportunity to spot migratory birds and endemic species. It’s a must-experience for bird enthusiasts.
- Algarrobos Forest Trail: This trail takes you into the impressive carob tree forest located in Ansenuza National Park. The path winds through these majestic trees, offering a unique experience of connection with nature. In addition to carob trees, you’ll appreciate the diversity of flora and fauna inhabiting this ecosystem, including native mammals and birds.
Both trails are well-signposted and offer the opportunity to explore the beauty and uniqueness of the park while immersing yourself in nature and enjoying direct contact with the environment.
Bird and Wildlife Observation
Ansenuza is a popular destination for birdwatching, with several unique and migratory species present in the park.
Water Areas for Recreational Activities
Additionally, there are water areas in the park that are ideal for recreational activities such as swimming and boating.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Ansenuza is during spring and autumn when the weather is mild, and wildlife is more active.
Accommodation and Campsites
Within Ansenuza National Park, there are accommodation options and campsites available for visitors who wish to spend the night in direct contact with nature. The campsites offer designated camping areas with basic facilities such as fire pits and restrooms. It’s important to remember to respect the established rules to preserve the natural environment.
Visitor Services Available
Ansenuza provides various services for visitors, including information centers, picnic areas, and restrooms.
Park Regulations and Rules
To protect the natural environment, visitors are encouraged to follow all park regulations and rules, such as not littering and staying on designated trails.
Socioeconomic Impact of Ansenuza National Park
Influence on Local and Regional Economy
Ansenuza plays an important role in the local and regional economy by generating income through tourism and creating jobs for the local community.
Environmental Education and Conservation
The park also contributes to environmental education by raising awareness among visitors about the importance of conservation and biodiversity.
Threats and Challenges to Ansenuza National Park
Climate Change and Its Impact
Climate change poses a significant threat to Ansenuza, affecting its ecosystems and the species that depend on them.
Human Pressure and Its Management
Human pressure, in the form of pollution and habitat alteration, is also a challenge for the park. Measures are being taken to manage and reduce these impacts.
Research and Conservation in Ansenuza
Active Conservation Projects
Several active conservation projects are being conducted in Ansenuza to protect its ecosystems and species.
Recent Research and Discoveries
The park is also a significant research center where scientists conduct studies on its biodiversity and how to preserve it.