- 1 History and Creation of the Pilcomayo River National Park
- 2 Geographic Location
- 3 Climate of the Region
- 4 Biodiversity: Flora and Fauna of the National Park
- 5 Main Activities and Excursions
- 5.1 Estero Poí Recreational Area
- 5.2 Laguna Blanca Recreational Area
- 6 Points of Interest: What to See Near Río Pilcomayo National Park
- 7 Accommodation and Services Information
- 8 Recommendations for Your Visit
- 9 Photo Gallery
- 10 References
Welcome to the mighty Río Pilcomayo National Park in Argentina, (known as Pilcomayo River National Park in English and as Parque Nacional Río Pilcomayo in Spanish), a space protected by the government for the conservation and preservation of the biodiversity of the Argentine Humid Chaco. In this virtual tour, you will discover its fauna, flora, lush landscapes, and the exciting recommended activities and excursions. Join us on this adventure and find out why the Pilcomayo River Park is an unmissable corner in South America.
History and Creation of the Pilcomayo River National Park
The Pilcomayo River National Park was established on October 17, 1951, through law n.º 14073/51 with the aim of protecting a representative sample of the Chaco region. Its history is full of conservation efforts and a rich cultural heritage that undoubtedly enhance the visit.
Originally, it covered an area of 285,000 hectares, but it was later reduced to 51,889 hectares by law n.º 17915, at the request of the Formosa Legislature. This disaffected area was transferred to the provincial government.
In 1990, a section of the national park was designated as a strict nature reserve through decree n.º 2149/90, and the boundaries of this reserve were subsequently modified by decree n.º 453/1994, which also created the wild nature reserve.
In 2006, the 2007-2011 Five-Year Management Plan for the national park was approved, establishing guidelines for its management and conservation.
Throughout the years, the park has been the subject of continuous conservation and management efforts to protect its rich biodiversity and ensure its preservation for future generations.
The area protected by the Argentine government is a living testament to Argentina’s history and conservation commitment, and it continues to be an invaluable refuge for the flora, fauna, and natural beauty of the Chaco region.
Located in the Formosa Province, in the Pilcomayo department, 5 kilometers from the town of Laguna Blanca and about 5 kilometers from the town of Laguna Naick Neck, Río Pilcomayo National Park is accessible by road from various points in the country. It can be located geographically using the coordinates 25°03′52″S 58°08′12″W or the address: P3613 Laguna Blanca, Formosa, Argentina.
Climate of the Region
The climate in the region where Río Pilcomayo Park is situated is a humid subtropical climate with a dry season. Throughout the year, it experiences variations in temperature and precipitation.
The average annual temperature in the park is around 23°C (73.4°F). During summer, maximum temperatures can exceed 40°C (104°F), while in winter, occasional minimum temperatures below zero can be recorded. These seasonal temperature variations are characteristic of a subtropical climate.
Regarding precipitation, the park receives about 1,200 mm (47.2 inches) of rainfall per year. The majority of the precipitation occurs between the months of November and March, coinciding with the summer season. During this period, intense rainfall and thunderstorms are common in the region.
The dry season extends from April to October, during which precipitation decreases significantly. During this time, the climate tends to be drier, and temperatures can be more moderate.
Biodiversity: Flora and Fauna of the National Park
Situated in the Humid Chaco ecoregion, characterized by being a mosaic of diverse natural environments, Río Pilcomayo National Park harbors significant biodiversity and offers a wide variety of habitats for many species of animals and plants.
Within the park, you can find grasslands, wetlands, forests, riparian areas, and lagoons, among others. Each of these environments plays an important role in ecological balance and supports a plethora of plant and animal species.
Grasslands are one of the distinctive features of Río Pilcomayo National Park, adapted to the natural cycles of droughts and fires. These open areas provide habitats for a variety of plant and animal species, including birds, mammals, and reptiles.
Wetland areas, such as marshes and swamps, are vital aquatic ecosystems. Here, a diversity of waterfowl, fish, amphibians, and reptiles can be found, all of which depend on these wet habitats.
The forests present in the park, like the Chaco forest and the carob tree forest, are also home to numerous species of plants and animals. These forests provide shelter, food, and breeding grounds for a variety of birds, mammals, and insects.
The protected area plays a crucial role in shaping the region’s ecosystem. Its riverbanks and associated lagoons provide important habitats for diverse aquatic species, including birds, fish, and turtles.
One of the most prominent species is the aguará guazú (Chrysocyon brachyurus), which is the largest fox in Argentina. With its long legs, it moves solitarily through the grasslands and wetlands in search of mice, birds, fruits, insects, and fish, which make up its diet. Despite its ecological importance, the aguará guazú is not abundant and has been unfairly persecuted, accused of being dangerous to livestock. Currently, it is considered an endangered species.
Regarding flora, the emblematic species of Río Pilcomayo National Park is the caranday (Copernicia alba), a palm tree that can reach up to 20 meters in height. Its trunk has a grayish-brown color, and its fan-shaped leaves are green, growing at the top of the trunk. The caranday’s fruits are a source of food for various birds, such as parrots and parakeets.
Flora Growing in the National Park
The flora is diverse and adapted to the different environments present in the area.
In flooded low sites, such as swamps, streambeds, and lagoons, characteristic vegetation can be found, including floating and marsh plants like huajó, pirí, and water hyacinth. These plants are adapted to live in areas with water presence and contribute to the formation of a unique aquatic ecosystem.
In sites that remain flooded for a short period, a grassland develops where caranday palms (Copernicia alba) can be found. These caranday palm groves are one of the distinctive features of the park’s landscape, adding beauty and providing food for various birds and other animals.
In high and well-drained sites, forests or gallery forests can be found. "Isletas de monte," which are small forest formations surrounded by grasslands, develop in the midst of the park’s grassland landscape. These forests harbor hardwood trees like lapacho, quebracho colorado chaqueño, algarrobo, and guayacán, as well as numerous shrubs, vines, and epiphytes that contribute to ecosystem diversity.
The park’s soil is generally covered by caraguatá, a characteristic plant of the region that forms dense thorny shrubs.
The fauna present in Río Pilcomayo National Park is diverse, with many species of animals inhabiting the protected area, representing the wet environments of the Chaco in Argentina.
Among the reptiles, both species of caimans present in the country can be found, as well as the curiyú boa. Capuchin monkeys, fishing bats, capybaras, aguará popé, coatis, pumas, monte foxes, river otters, ocelots, and iconic figures such as the tapir, aguará guazú, and giant anteater can also be observed.
The birds are incredibly varied, with around 324 recorded species. About 25% of these birds are strictly linked to wetlands, highlighting the importance of the aquatic environments present in the protected area. The park was recognized as a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site) in 1992 due to the relevance of these aquatic ecosystems. Waterfowl such as herons, ducks, storks, ibises, and many others find an essential habitat for their survival in the park.
In addition to reptiles and birds, the park hosts a variety of mammals, with approximately 85 recorded species, as well as 42 species of reptiles and a large number of fish and amphibians.
The diversity of fauna present in Río Pilcomayo underscores its importance for conserving the biodiversity of the wet environments of the Chaco in Argentina. It is a place of great significance for the protection and study of these species, contributing to the conservation of ecosystems and their natural balance.
Main Activities and Excursions
Río Pilcomayo National Park offers a variety of activities that can be chosen based on the preferences of each individual or group visiting the park.
Estero Poí Recreational Area
The Estero Poí Recreational Area is a specially designed space for recreational activities within Río Pilcomayo National Park. It features camping facilities that include restrooms, showers, and electricity. Water is available in the area, although it’s not potable, so it’s recommended to bring your own drinking water.
Self-Guided Walking Trails
Within the Estero Poí Recreational Area, you’ll find two self-guided walking trails. These trails are marked with interpretive signage that provides information about the flora, fauna, and characteristics of the natural environment. Visitors can enjoy self-guided walks through nature, exploring and learning about the park’s ecosystem.
16-Kilometer Vehicle Trail
In addition to the walking trails, the Estero Poí Recreational Area has a 16-kilometer vehicle trail. This road allows visitors to explore the park by vehicle, providing the opportunity to experience different landscapes and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding natural beauty.
Catalina Estuary Observation Tower (Estero Catalina)
Within the Estero Poí Recreational Area, there’s an observation tower offering stunning views of the Catalina Estuary. From the top of the tower, visitors can appreciate the lush vegetation, waterways, and wildlife inhabiting this beautiful estuary.
Bañado Pirity Bird Observatory
The Estero Poí Recreational Area features a bird observatory located in the Bañado Pirity wetlands. This location provides the opportunity to observe and enjoy the diversity of birds that inhabit this wetland. Birdwatchers can appreciate different species and relish the tranquility of this natural environment.
Río Pilcomayo Overlook
Within the Estero Poí Recreational Area, there’s an overlook providing panoramic views of the mighty Río Pilcomayo. From this observation point, visitors can contemplate the beauty of the river and its surroundings, understanding the significance of this watercourse in the park’s ecosystem.
Bicycles are available for recreational use in the Estero Poí Recreational Area. Visitors can enjoy bicycle rides along the park’s trails and paths, actively exploring its natural wonders in a fun way. It’s an ideal option for those who want to explore the park at their own pace and appreciate nature while engaging in physical exercise.
Laguna Blanca Recreational Area
The Laguna Blanca Recreational Area offers an ideal space for recreational activities within Río Pilcomayo National Park. Here, you’ll find a camping area equipped with restrooms and electricity. Water is available in the area, although it’s not potable, so it’s advisable to bring your own drinking water.
Boardwalk Trail and Picnic Areas over the Water Surface:
Within the Laguna Blanca Recreational Area, there’s a boardwalk trail that allows you to walk over the water surface of the lagoon. This trail offers panoramic views and the opportunity to closely appreciate the beauty of the lagoon and its natural surroundings. Additionally, picnic areas are available in the area where you can rest and enjoy a picnic.
Interpretive Walking Trail
In the Laguna Blanca Recreational Area, you’ll also find an interpretive walking trail. This trail is designed for visitors to explore on foot and learn about the flora, fauna, and characteristics of the environment. Along the trail, you’ll come across informative signs that provide details about the biodiversity and highlights of the lagoon.
Non-Motorized Watercraft Activities
Within the Laguna Blanca Recreational Area, the use of non-motorized watercraft is permitted with prior notice to the park ranger. This provides the opportunity to enjoy activities such as kayaking, canoeing, or small boat rides on the lagoon. It’s important to inform the park rangers about these activities to ensure safety and protection of the area.
Please note that all activities in the Laguna Blanca Recreational Area should be conducted responsibly and in accordance with the park’s regulations to preserve its natural beauty and maintain harmony with the environment.
Points of Interest: What to See Near Río Pilcomayo National Park
In addition to the fantastic fauna, flora, and natural landscapes within the park, the surrounding area also offers other nearby activities and points of interest that are worth visiting.
Laguna de Oca Biosphere Reserve (Formosa, 130 km)
The Laguna de Oca Biosphere Reserve is located approximately 130 km from Río Pilcomayo National Park. This reserve is a protected area that houses a diversity of aquatic ecosystems, including lagoons, wetlands, and riparian areas. It’s an important habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife species. Visitors can enjoy birdwatching, hikes, and outdoor activities in this beautiful natural setting.
Guaycolec Fauna Reserve (Formosa, 130 km)
The Guaycolec Fauna Reserve, located about 130 km from Río Pilcomayo National Park, is another standout destination in the area. This reserve serves as a refuge for the native fauna of the Chaco region, including mammals, birds, and reptiles. It offers the opportunity for wildlife spotting and enjoying nature in a protected environment.
Bañado la Estrella (Las Lomitas, 380 km)
Approximately 380 km from Río Pilcomayo National Park lies Bañado la Estrella. This impressive wetland is one of the largest in Argentina and hosts a wide variety of flora and fauna species. It’s an ideal location for birdwatching and nature photography. Visitors can explore its trails and marvel at the beauty of this unique ecosystem.
Tacaglé Franciscan Mission (60 km)
Just 60 km from Río Pilcomayo National Park, you’ll find the Tacaglé Franciscan Mission, known in Spanish as "Misión Franciscana Tacaglé". This historic Jesuit mission, built in the 18th century, provides a glimpse into the history and culture of the region. Visitors can explore colonial architecture, learn about life in the missions, and enjoy a peaceful and serene atmosphere.
Herradura Town (150 km)
About 150 km from Río Pilcomayo National Park is the town of Herradura. This picturesque town offers an authentic experience of rural lifestyle in the Chaco region. Visitors can enjoy local hospitality, learn about traditions and culture of the area, and explore the surrounding natural landscapes.
These attractions near Río Pilcomayo National Park provide the opportunity to discover more of the natural beauty, history, and culture of the Chaco region in Argentina.
Accommodation and Services Information
Within the Park
Both in the Laguna Blanca and Estero Poí recreational areas, services are available for visitors. These services include:
- Barbecue grills, tables, and chairs for picnics and barbecues, providing resting and outdoor enjoyment areas.
- Public restrooms, offering convenience and basic amenities.
- Campground with treated water (not potable) for those who wish to spend the night in nature. It is recommended to bring your own drinking water.
- Night lighting to ensure safety and visibility in the area.
- First aid kit, providing basic assistance in case of emergencies.
- Available communication for requesting help or assistance if needed, with park rangers present in the area.
- Emergency vehicle, allowing for a swift response in case of emergency situations.
Additionally, in the Estero Poí recreational area, showers are provided to offer the possibility of cleaning up and refreshing during your stay in the park.
Outside the Park
In nearby towns such as Laguna Naineck and Laguna Blanca, visitors will find a variety of additional services. These services include:
- Accommodations, offering lodging options for those seeking a more comfortable stay.
- Dining establishments, where you can enjoy local meals and other culinary choices.
- Provision stores, offering basic products and supplies for visitors.
- Gas stations, where you can refuel and perform any necessary vehicle maintenance.
- Cellular signal coverage, allowing communication and internet connectivity in these areas.
- WiFi available in central squares, providing internet access in public spaces.
- Remis service, offering local transportation within the towns to facilitate movement.
Lodging and Campgrounds Near the Park
If you prefer the comfort of traditional lodging, we will provide you with information about nearby accommodation options, from hotels to rural lodgings.
Recommendations for Your Visit
Best Time to Visit
The ideal time to visit the park is during the dry season, from April to October, when the weather is most pleasant and allows for more outdoor activities. Nevertheless, the park can be visited year-round.
How to Get to Río Pilcomayo National Park
Located in the Formosa province, Río Pilcomayo National Park is accessible by road from various points in the country. We will provide detailed directions and recommendations on how to reach the park safely and comfortably.
What to Bring and How to Visit
Recommendations are key to enjoying a visit to Río Pilcomayo National Park:
- Bring plenty of drinking water: It’s important to bring an ample supply of drinking water to stay hydrated during your visit to the park, as the water available in the recreational area is not potable.
- Insect repellent and sun protection: Due to the presence of insects and the warm climate, it’s recommended to bring insect repellent and sun protection, such as a hat, long-sleeved clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen, to shield yourself from the sun’s rays and insect bites.
- Check road conditions: Before visiting the park, it’s important to check the conditions of the roads, as they can vary depending on the rainy seasons or weather events.
- Register upon arrival and consult with staff: Upon arriving at the park, it’s necessary to register at the Park Headquarters. If you have any questions or concerns during your visit, don’t hesitate to ask the park staff, who will be willing to provide information and assistance.
- Drive at a low speed and use designated trails: When driving within the park, it’s recommended to do so at a low speed and follow the signage. Additionally, it’s important to only use designated trails, wearing appropriate footwear to avoid damaging the natural environment.
- Carry your waste back with you: To contribute to the conservation of the park, remember to carry all your waste with you and not leave any trash in the area. Let’s help keep this beautiful natural environment clean and in good condition.
- Respect wildlife and vegetation: It’s essential not to hunt, fish, or disturb animals in the park. Likewise, avoid damaging vegetation and refrain from plucking plants or branches. Respecting wildlife and flora is crucial for preserving the natural balance of the ecosystem.
- Do not feed fish in the lagoon: Piranhas have been detected in the park’s lagoon during the summer season. For your safety and the preservation of the ecosystem, avoid feeding the fish and maintain a safe distance.
- Law No. 14073 (in Spanish).
- Law No. 14408 (in Spanish).
- Decree Law No. 654/1958(in Spanish).
- Law No. 17915 (in Spanish).
- Decree No. 2149/90 (in Spanish).
- Decree No. 453/1994 (in Spanish).
- Ramsar – Río Pilcomayo.
- Five-Year Management Plan 2007 – 2011 (pdf Spanish version).
- Resolution No. 126/2011 (in Spanish).