Laguna Blanca National Park

Located in the southwest of Neuquén Province, Argentina, there is a natural area of indescribable beauty, the Laguna Blanca National Park, with abundant biodiversity, opportunities for eco-sustainable tourism, and a fascinating geography of this unique protected paradise. If you are a nature lover, a keen bird watcher, or simply seeking the serenity that only nature can provide.

National Park Information

Laguna Blanca National Park


The history of Laguna Blanca National Park dates back to its establishment on May 31, 1940 (Decree No. 63,601/40) – Formalized in 1945 (Decree Law No. 9,504/45 ratified by Law No. 13,895), giving it the Spanish name "Parque Nacional Laguna Blanca". Its primary objective was to protect the black-necked swan, an endangered species that inhabited the lagoon. Additionally, it holds the privilege of being a Ramsar Site (Wetlands of International Importance) since 1992.
The park’s name derives from the color that the surface of Laguna Blanca would take on when covered by the thousands of black-necked swans. However, long before its establishment, the territory was inhabited by the Mapuche people, who utilized the natural resources of the area for their sustenance.

In July 1939, the superintendent of Lanín National Reserve proposed the creation of the Laguna Blanca National Reserve due to its unique geography and the extraordinary population of swans it harbored. Finally, on May 31, 1940, through Decree No. 63,601, the Laguna Blanca National Reserve was established, which was declared a national park by Decree Law No. 9,504/1945 on April 28, 1945.

Over the years, modifications have been made to the park’s boundaries, and management plans have been implemented to preserve its biodiversity. In 1990, a portion of the national park was designated as a strict nature reserve, and subsequently, in 1994, the wild nature reserve was created through Decree No. 453/1994.

Laguna Blanca National Park has an updated Management Plan from 2017, which sets the guidelines for its conservation and management. This protected area plays a crucial role in preserving Argentina’s biodiversity and in environmental education, as part of the National Park System of the country. By the year 2023, it covers an area of 11,250 hectares, equivalent to approximately 112.5 square kilometers.

Geographical Location

Situated in the Patagonian steppe, about 30 kilometers to the west of the city of Zapala, in the Neuquén Province, this national park covers an area of 11,250 hectares around the lagoon that lends its name. It can be located using the coordinates: 39°02′29″S 70°21′30″W.

Biodiversity: Fauna and Flora

Iconic Species of Laguna Blanca

The black-necked swan (Cygnus melancoryphus) is the iconic species of Laguna Blanca National Park. It’s easily recognizable by its large size and black-and-white plumage. Both males and females have similar coloring, though females are generally slightly smaller. These swans inhabit lagoons, lakes, and rivers, primarily feeding on aquatic vegetation.

An interesting feature of this species is their takeoff behavior. Before taking flight, black-necked swans "run" on the water’s surface to gain momentum.

During the nesting process, the female lays the eggs, and then both the male and female take turns incubating them. After the chicks are born, the parents carry them on their backs, creating an enchanting sight.

The black-necked swan is an iconic presence in the park, adding beauty and value to the rich biodiversity of Laguna Blanca.


Despite its location in the Patagonian steppe, the area hosts diverse flora. You can find coirón grass, the typical Patagonian shrubland, and clusters of pehuen trees in the higher regions. Plants in this area have developed special features to withstand strong winds, snow, and water scarcity in the summer. The park’s vegetation is characterized by its low stature, thorns and spines, and deep roots.

Among the species present in the protected area are shrubs such as "duraznillo," "matas," "neneo," and "molle." There are also extensive areas of coirón grasslands, a type of grass forming compact yellowish mats. This terrestrial vegetation contributes to the diversity and beauty of the park.


The park serves as a refuge for various fauna species. The presence of the black-necked swan is a highlight, but you can also find flamingos, ducks, coots, and other waterfowl.

Birdwatching is one of the main attractions here. In addition to the black-necked swans, which are the emblem of the park, it’s a habitat for coots and various species of ducks. More than a hundred different species of birds visit the lagoons at different times of the year, including sandpipers, flamingos, plovers, and silver grebes. The Patagonian aquatic frog, a regional amphibian endemic, is also notable.

Another remarkable aspect is the cliffs that surround the lagoon on its northern side. These steep walls serve as nesting sites for raptors like the common buzzard and the peregrine falcon. Additionally, the ledges provide opportunities to spot chinchillones or mountain viscachas, pumas, foxes, armadillos, rheas, and condors. The diversity of fauna in the park offers a unique experience for wildlife observation and appreciation.

Geology and Geography

The park is situated in an endorheic basin with gentle slopes and volcanic soils. The centerpiece of the park is the Laguna Blanca, an alkaline-saline lake of great ecological significance.


The climate is arid and windy, with an average annual temperature of around 7°C and precipitation not exceeding 200 mm per year. The park experiences significant daily temperature fluctuations.
During summer, average temperatures hover around 22°C, but can reach highs above 40°C. In contrast, during winter, average temperatures drop to around 5°C, and minimums can plummet to -20°C. Significant snowfall also occurs during this cold season.

Regarding precipitation, the park receives between 150 and 200 mm of rainfall annually, primarily concentrated in the winter season. Predominant westerly winds are dry and strong, contributing to the arid climate.

The Ecosystem of Laguna Blanca

Laguna Blanca harbors several endemic species, including the previously mentioned population of black-necked swans. These species play a crucial role in maintaining the ecosystem’s balance.

Ecological Significance of the Lake

Laguna Blanca is essential for the survival of many waterfowl species. Despite its alkaline-saline water, its high biological productivity supports a rich community of birds and microorganisms.

Recommended Activities and Excursions

"Nómades" Visitor Center

The "Nómades" Visitor Center is a prominent location within Laguna Blanca National Park, offering visitors information about the park, its conservation efforts, and available activities. It serves as an ideal starting point for exploring the natural beauty of the protected area.

Laguna Trail and Alero El Resguardo

This hiking route allows visitors to enjoy a scenic walk around the lagoon and explore a rock shelter with cave paintings. It’s a unique opportunity to appreciate the flora, fauna, and geological features of the park.

Cerro Mellizo Sur Trail

Another option for hiking enthusiasts. This trail leads to a summit that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the lagoon and its surroundings. It’s a rewarding experience for those seeking outdoor adventure and direct contact with nature.

Geological Trail "El Escorial"

An ideal choice for those interested in the park’s geology. Along this trail, visitors can learn about the geological history of the area and observe features like volcanic ash deposits. It’s an educational and fascinating opportunity to better understand the formation of the landscape.

Laguna Fantasma (Phantom Lagoon)

A charming location worth visiting within Laguna Blanca National Park. Its natural beauty and tranquility offer a serene and relaxing atmosphere for those seeking to enjoy the peace and harmony of nature.

Bird Watching

The park is a prominent destination for bird enthusiasts. With a wide variety of species, including black-necked swans, coots, flamingos, and many more, it provides exceptional opportunities for bird watching and the delight of ornithology enthusiasts.

Photography and Landscape Contemplation

The scenic beauty of Laguna Blanca makes it a perfect place for photography and landscape contemplation. With its lagoons, mountains, flora, and fauna, every corner offers a chance to capture memorable moments and enjoy the serenity and grandeur of the natural environment.

Recreational Fishing

Between April 1 and October 31 of each year, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy recreational fishing in the park. With suitable lagoons and rivers for this activity, anglers can indulge in the tranquility of fishing and relish the beauty of the surroundings while practicing their favorite hobby.

Education and Environmental Conservation

Environmental Education Programs

The park implements various environmental education programs to raise awareness about the importance of preserving and respecting these unique ecosystems.

Conservation Projects

Several conservation projects are carried out to protect the park’s biodiversity, including species monitoring programs and habitat restoration initiatives.

Community Collaboration

The local community plays a key role in the conservation of Laguna Blanca National Park, participating in various conservation and environmental education initiatives.

Practical Visitor Information

How to Get to Laguna Blanca National Park

Access to the park is through National Route 40 and then Provincial Route 46. There are bus services from the city of Zapala, and there are various accommodation and restaurant options in the surrounding areas. Within the park, basic amenities such as restrooms and picnic areas are available.

Getting There by Car and Private Vehicle

  • From the city of Neuquén, you can take RN 22 to Zapala and then continue on RN 40 and RP 46 to the park. The total distance is approximately 215 km.
  • From the city of Mendoza, you can take RN 40 and RP 46, covering a total distance of approximately 984 km.
  • From Temuco, Chile, there are two options: via Paso Pino Hachado (RN 242, RN 40, and RP 46) with a distance of about 359 km, or via Paso de Icalma (RP 13 and RP 46) with a distance of about 287 km.
  • From San Carlos de Bariloche, you can take RN 237, RN 40, and RP 46, covering a distance of approximately 376 km. It’s important to check the road conditions, weather forecast, and the opening of international crossings before traveling.

Other Modes of Transportation

  • In the city of Neuquén, which is connected by daily flights to Buenos Aires, you can rent a car to reach the park.
  • Another option is to take a bus to the city of Zapala and then take a taxi or daily buses to the town of Aluminé, passing through Laguna Blanca National Park.

These are some of the options to reach Laguna Blanca National Park, whether by private car, using public transportation services, or renting a car. It’s recommended to plan the trip in advance and verify the availability of routes and transportation methods used.

Free Camping Area

The park has a free camping area that offers three tent sites, benches, tables, and shade. It’s important to note that there are no supply services in the area, so it’s recommended to bring drinking water, firewood, and necessary supplies. Additionally, campers are required to register.

Nearby Accommodations and Restaurants

Furthermore, in the town of Zapala, located 36 km from the park, the following services are available:

  • Accommodation: Zapala offers various accommodation options for visitors, ranging from hotels to cabins and inns. Visitors can find different alternatives to suit their needs and preferences.
  • Gastronomy: In Zapala, visitors can enjoy a variety of dining options. There are restaurants, cafes, and places to try local and regional dishes.
  • Fuel: For those in need of refueling, Zapala has gas stations where you can fill up on gasoline and diesel.

These services provide additional conveniences for visitors, allowing them to enjoy their stay in the park with greater comfort and fulfilling their basic needs.

Best Time to Visit

The ideal season to visit Laguna Blanca National Park is from November to March, as during these months, the weather is warmer and conditions are more favorable for outdoor activities, and the birds are more active.

Rules and Recommendations for Visitors

To ensure the protection of this natural space, visitors are asked to follow certain rules, such as not littering, not making fires, and respecting wildlife.

What to See Near Laguna Blanca

In addition to the attractions within Laguna Blanca National Park, there are other nearby destinations worth visiting. Lanín National Park, Copahue Provincial Park, and Lake Aluminé offer additional landscapes and activities to explore and enjoy, expanding the adventure options in the region.

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