- 1 Introduction to the Laguna de los Pozuelos Natural Monument
- 2 Ecological Importance and Biodiversity
- 3 Recommended Activities and Places to See
- 4 How to Get There
- 5 Conservation and Threats
- 6 Laguna de los Pozuelos and the Local Community
- 7 Future of the Natural Monument
- 8 Photo Gallery
- 9 References
Located in the vast and dazzling highland of Northwestern Argentina, the mighty Laguna de los Pozuelos Natural Monument (in Spanish: Monumento Natural Laguna de los Pozuelos) is a natural spectacle that draws nature enthusiasts, ornithologists, and adventurers from around the world. Let yourself be captivated by its rich biodiversity and the towering scenic beauty that surrounds it.
Introduction to the Laguna de los Pozuelos Natural Monument
Located in the Province of Jujuy, between the towns of Rinconada, Lagunillas, Yoscaba, Cieneguillas, and Pozuelos, this Natural Monument is an Internationally Important Wetland. It covers an area of over 200 square kilometers, spanning 16,000 hectares, making it one of the largest salt lakes in Argentina.
History and Recognition as a Natural Monument
Recognized as a Natural Monument in 1981, the area has served as a sanctuary for diverse bird species and local flora. The main objective of this recognition is the preservation of its rich biodiversity and the natural environment.
Through Decree Law No. 3749/1980, enacted and promulgated on December 29, 1980, the province of Jujuy transferred to the National State the jurisdiction, eminent domain, and ownership of certain lands encompassing the Laguna de los Pozuelos and its immediate surroundings. The purpose of this transfer was to incorporate this area into the National System of Protected Areas, thus acknowledging its natural value and the need for its preservation.
On January 28, 1981, through Resolution 997/1980, the National Parks Administration (APN) accepted the donation and submitted to the national Executive Power the proposal to create, by law, the Laguna de los Pozuelos Natural Monument. Although no specific law was enacted in this regard, the APN has been in charge of the administration and protection of the area since then, ensuring the conservation of its rich biodiversity.
On December 18, 1981, the government of Jujuy and the National Parks Administration signed a cooperation agreement with the purpose of evaluating the feasibility of establishing a national reserve, focused primarily on the preservation of vicuñas, a flagship species of the region.
Resolution No. 126/2011, issued on May 19, 2011, by the National Parks Administration, established that the Laguna de los Pozuelos Natural Monument would be classified, for administrative purposes, in the category of protected areas of complexity III. Consequently, a superintendent was appointed as the highest authority, overseeing the management of four departments: Administration, Infrastructure and Maintenance, National Park Rangers, and Conservation and Public Use. Additionally, there is a division responsible for Dispatch and Receipt of Correspondence and Notifications.
The superintendent’s headquarters are located in the town of Abra Pampa, from where the direction and coordination of activities related to the administration and conservation of the natural monument are carried out.
Climate in the Region
Laguna de los Pozuelos is characterized by a high-altitude arid climate, with extreme temperature fluctuations. Average temperatures range from 8°C in winter, with lows that can reach up to -30°C, to 16°C in summer, with highs exceeding 30°C. This temperature range demonstrates the marked difference between the seasons, with cold winters and warm summers.
The climate is also characterized by scarce rainfall, with approximately 200 mm of annual precipitation. Most of this rainfall occurs during the summer months, between December and March. During the cold months, experiencing strong frosts and sporadic snowfalls is common.
Best Times to Visit
The recommended season to visit the lagoon is in March and April, after the rainy season. During this period, thousands of flamingos paint the lagoon a beautiful pink color, providing a breathtaking spectacle. However, it’s important to note that summer rains, though scarce, can hinder access to the lagoon due to road closures.
Prices and Fees
Access to the Laguna de los Pozuelos Natural Monument is free of charge.
Ecological Importance and Biodiversity
Located in the Puna ecoregion, an expansive plain at an altitude of approximately 4,000 meters above sea level, this natural monument is a brackish body of water that undergoes constant changes in its boundaries, determined by the contribution of rivers from the thaw of the Andean mountains and surrounding hills.
The ecosystem of Laguna de los Pozuelos is unique due to its location in the Puna, characterized by high altitude and extreme climatic conditions. The lagoon is mainly fed by meltwater, which contributes to its brackish nature. This combination of factors creates a fragile yet dynamic environment, with biodiversity adapted to the highland conditions, including migratory and endemic bird species.
It harbors a unique diversity of fauna, including endemic birds, mammals, and reptiles. The fauna of the area is a true display of adaptation to the highland ecosystem.
The fauna in Laguna de los Pozuelos is extraordinary, hosting a variety of birds that are exclusive to the Puna region. Prominent species include the Andean avocet, Puna plover, and giant coot. These birds are endemic and have adapted to the specific conditions of this ecosystem.
During the summer, the lagoon welcomes migratory birds from the northern hemisphere, such as the Wilson’s phalarope and the red knot. These birds take advantage of the favorable environment of the lagoon to feed and rest during their migratory journey.
However, it’s the flamingos that steal the limelight in this body of water. More than 30,000 individuals of the three flamingo species found in Argentina—the Chilean flamingo, Andean flamingo, and James’s flamingo—have been counted. These majestic birds are a true emblem of the lagoon, and their presence is awe-inspiring.
The importance as a habitat for birds is so significant that in 1992, it was declared a Ramsar Site. This designation is given to wetlands of international importance and is recognition of the concentration and diversity of birds inhabiting this protected area.
The presence and abundance of birds testify to the richness and vitality of this aquatic ecosystem, making it a destination of interest for both bird enthusiasts and those who appreciate the beauty of wildlife.
A marked contrast can be observed between the rocky soils and the vegetation that covers them. The flora in this area adapts to the extreme conditions of the Puna ecosystem, where high altitude and aridity are determining factors.
The predominant vegetation consists of shrubs and yareta, which adapt to the rocky soils and water scarcity. These plants have a low and compact growth form, allowing them to withstand the strong winds and low temperatures characteristic of the region.
Despite the apparent aridity of the landscape, Laguna de los Pozuelos is an important habitat for a great diversity of birds. These birds find the lagoon to be a site for feeding and nesting. The presence of water and the abundance of small aquatic organisms provide a vital resource for avifauna, attracting numerous species.
It’s fascinating to observe how the sparse vegetation contrasts with the richness and variety of birds that inhabit and utilize the lagoon. This dynamic ecosystem demonstrates the adaptability of flora and its importance as a refuge for wildlife.
Flamingos as Emblematic Species
In the Laguna de los Pozuelos, three species of flamingos can be found: the Chilean flamingo, the Andean flamingo, and the James’s flamingo. The latter two species are mainly residents of the Puna region.
The James’s flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi) is particularly emblematic. It’s the smallest species of flamingo that inhabits the lagoon. It’s characterized by its yellow beak with a black tip and its reddish-colored legs. These features are useful for distinguishing it from the other flamingo species present in the area. The James’s flamingo primarily feeds on small crustaceans, which it filters from the water using its distinctive beak.
Unfortunately, the James’s flamingo is considered a threatened species. This highlights the importance of conserving and protecting its habitat, as it is a vital refuge for this species and other waterfowl.
Recommended Activities and Places to See
Birdwatching, photography, and hiking are some of the activities you can engage in. Remember that this is a protected area, so you must follow the conservation regulations.
Here is the map with the important points for orientation. Following that, you’ll find the recommended activities and points of interest:
Lagunillas is a tiny wetland located in the Puna region, where hundreds of waterbirds gather. It lies at the foot of towering mountains, approximately 35 km from the park ranger’s residence.
Cochinoca and Casabindo
From Abra Pampa, you can reach the historic towns of Cochinoca and Casabindo. Cochinoca is 23 km away, following Provincial Route 71. On the other hand, Casabindo is 60 km away, taking Provincial Route 11. Casabindo is renowned for being the setting of the only bullfight in Argentine soil.
Salinas Grandes (Great Salt Flats)
An otherworldly scene awaits at Salinas Grandes, situated 125 km away from the Natural Monument. To get there, you can take National Route 40 and then Provincial Route 16. Salinas Grandes is known for its vast salt flats and stunning landscapes.
La Quiaca, Yavi, and Yavi Chico
The city of La Quiaca is 81 km from Laguna de los Pozuelos, while Yavi is 100 km away. In Yavi, also known as Marquesado de Yavi, you can visit its historic town hall. Additionally, near Yavi is Yavi Chico, an indigenous community. Access to these places is via Provincial Route 5.
Just 20 km away from Pozuelos lies Rinconada, a mining town with a historic town hall. To get there, you can take Provincial Route 7.
Santa Catalina is located in the northwest corner of Argentina, about 90 km from Pozuelos. The route to get there includes traveling along Provincial Route 70 and then Provincial Route 5.
Santa Victoria West
If you wish to visit West of Santa Victoria, located in the province of Salta, you can take Provincial Route 5, passing through La Quiaca. The distance from Pozuelos to Santa Victoria Oeste is approximately 118 km.
Caranzulí is known for its hot springs, its history of transhumance, and its unique landscapes. It’s located around 100 km from Abra Pampa, following National Route 40.
How to Get There
To reach Laguna de los Pozuelos by car from San Salvador de Jujuy, you can follow National Route 9 to Abra Pampa, where the protected area office is located. From there, take Provincial Route 7 until you reach the park ranger’s residence. Next, continue on an internal road of approximately 7 km that leads to the lagoon. It’s important to note that during the summer season, this road may be closed due to seasonal rainfall. In total, the distance from San Salvador de Jujuy to the lagoon is approximately 272.5 km.
Another option is to arrive from La Quiaca, taking Provincial Route 5, then Provincial Route 87, and finally Provincial Route 7. This route covers a distance of approximately 81 km from La Quiaca.
Other Means of Transportation
In addition to using cars, there are other means of transportation to reach Laguna de los Pozuelos:
- Bus: Buses from different parts of the country arrive in the capital of Jujuy, San Salvador de Jujuy. These bus services allow visitors to reach the city and then continue their journey to Pozuelos.
- Plane / Flights: San Salvador de Jujuy has daily flights from Buenos Aires and Córdoba. This option is convenient for those who prefer to travel by plane and then take other means of transportation to reach Pozuelos.
- Car Rental: Once in San Salvador de Jujuy, visitors can choose to rent a car to travel to Pozuelos. This option provides flexibility and autonomy in the journey.
- Bus and Taxi/Shared Transport: If you arrive in Abra Pampa by bus, you can complete the remaining journey to Pozuelos using taxi or local shared transport services. It’s important to note that transportation services to Rinconada, passing through the Natural Monument, are available every day except Sundays.
- Tour Agencies: Another alternative is to hire the services of a tour agency. These agencies offer tour packages that include transportation to Pozuelos, as well as other additional activities and services.
These transportation options allow visitors to conveniently access the Natural Monument, adapting to their preferences and needs.
Conservation and Threats
Current Conservation Efforts
Continuous efforts are made to conserve the ecosystem and species of the Lagoon. These efforts include bird monitoring, educational programs, and collaboration with local communities.
Threats to Biodiversity and the Lagoon Ecosystem
Mining, climate change, and pollution are some of the main threats to this Natural Monument. The conservation of this ecosystem is a priority for Argentina and the international community.
Laguna de los Pozuelos and the Local Community
Interactions with Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples
The Lagoon plays a significant role in the lives of local communities, serving as a vital water resource and an important factor for tourism. Indigenous communities also have a strong historical and cultural connection to the area.
Economic and Cultural Impact on the Region
The generated tourism contributes significantly to the local economy. The conservation of this Natural Monument is not only important for biodiversity but also for the sustainable development of the region.
Future of the Natural Monument
Projects and Plans for the Future
There are several ongoing projects to enhance the management and conservation of the Natural Monument, aiming to ensure its long-term protection and promote sustainable tourism. Environmental education and awareness are key aspects of these projects.
Implications of Climate Change on the Natural Monument
Climate change is a real threat to the Laguna de los Pozuelos. Studies suggest that it could affect water availability and alter bird migration patterns. It’s crucial to implement adaptation and mitigation measures to protect this fragile ecosystem from the impacts of climate change.
- Ramsar International Importance Wetland.
- Decreto Ley Nº 3749/1980 (pdf Spanish version).
- Agreement Ministry of Economy of the Province of Jujuy (pdf Spanish version).
- Ley n.° 4203 (pdf Spanish version).
- Resolución N.º 126/2011 (Spanish).