Traslasierra National Park

Located to the north of Argentina, the Traslasierra National Park offers visitors an unforgettable adventure in the midst of nature, with abundant biodiversity, impressive landscapes, and unique opportunities for engaging in activities and excursions.

Introduction to Traslasierra National Park

Traslasierra National Park

Geographical Location

The Traslasierra National Park (in Spanish: Parque Nacional Traslasierra) is situated in the northwest of the Córdoba province, in Argentina, and covers a significant portion of the Dry Chaco ecoregion, a territory of mountains and valleys that offers a diversity of impressive landscapes.

Located in the former Pinas estate in western Córdoba, it is an ecosystem of great importance in the region. It is situated in a rural area near the towns of Taninga and Villa de Soto, in the Pocho and Cruz del Eje departments, bordering the province of La Rioja. This park harbors outstanding ecosystem values, which are of great interest for biodiversity conservation and the preservation of connectivity within the Dry Chaco corridor.

History and Creation

Established on March 18, 2018, by Law No. 27.435/18, the Traslasierra National Park, spanning an area of 44,000 hectares, corresponds to what was the Pinas Estate, one of Argentina’s largest properties, formerly owned by the politician, lawyer, and writer Lisandro de la Torre. After his death, the lands were auctioned due to an unpaid mortgage and acquired by the Cordoban landowner Juan Feliciano Manubens Calvet. Following his death in 1981 without recognized heirs, a lengthy judicial succession process began.

Prior to this, on September 20, 2017, the province of Córdoba passed a law declaring all hectares of the estate as of public utility and subject to expropriation, with the purpose of transferring them to the Administration of National Parks for the creation of a national park. This law was promulgated on September 29, 2017.

Hansjörg Wyss, a Swiss philanthropist, provided the necessary funds for the expropriation of these lands, under the condition that the park be established before March 31, 2018. Wyss has contributed to the development of several national parks, acquiring surrounding estates and adding them to the nearby national park.

On March 21, 2018, the national law was enacted that approved the transfer of environmental jurisdiction made by Córdoba and officially established the Traslasierra National Park. Initially, it was considered to name it Pinas National Park, after the estate’s name, but it was eventually decided to name it "Traslasierra," being the first national park in the region located west of the Traslasierra Valley. At the time of its creation, the national park was composed of several properties, including El Mistol, lots in Bañado del Tala, and Piedra Blanca. The Pinas Estate, although still pending expropriation, was included within the national park’s area. However, the law did not address its conservation as a national reserve.

Biodiversity: Biological and Environmental Aspects

Ecosystems and Biodiversity

The Dry Chaco is an ecoregion characterized by a continental subtropical climate, with scarce and concentrated rainfall during the summer. The Traslasierra National Park, situated within this ecoregion, showcases diverse vegetation including forests, shrublands, and natural grasslands. These ecosystems serve as habitats for numerous flora and fauna species, many of which are endemic to the region and are classified under various national risk categories.

The conservation of this ecosystem is crucial for preserving biodiversity and connectivity within the Dry Chaco corridor, enabling species flow and contributing to the overall health of surrounding ecosystems. The area protected by the Argentine government plays a pivotal role in safeguarding and preserving this corridor, ensuring the survival of species and the integrity of the ecosystems in the area.

Iconic Species

There are two species that represent the Traslasierra National Park in the Dry Chaco region: the Chaco rainbow boa and the quebracho horco tree.

The Chaco rainbow boa (Epicrates alvarezi) is a snake exclusive to this region. It is characterized by primarily feeding on small and medium-sized mammals during the night. This viviparous species gives birth to only a few offspring per birth. Unfortunately, its habitat is threatened due to the reduction of its territory, leading it to be classified as a Species of Special Value (EVE) by the Administration of National Parks (APN). The protection and conservation of this species are of utmost importance for preserving the park’s biodiversity.

The quebracho horco or sierra quebracho (Schinopsis haenkeana) is an emblematic tree that forms forests in the mountain slopes of the Chaco region. During winter, it sheds its green foliage, but in early spring, as it regrows, its leaves turn a vivid red that contrasts with the green and brown tones of the mountain forest, creating a unique beauty. This species has been extensively exploited in the past for its wood, used in rural constructions, posts, firewood, and charcoal. As a result, the quebracho horco is in a threatened situation. The protection and conservation of this species are essential for preserving its natural beauty and its important role in the park’s ecosystem.

Flora and Vegetation

The Traslasierra National Park is home to a wide variety of plant species, some of which are endemic to the region. Its dense forests, grasslands, and wetlands provide important habitats for its rich biodiversity.

The park’s environment consists of forests, shrublands, natural grasslands, and saline areas, providing a natural refuge for numerous species. Plant species adapted to the specific conditions of the Dry Chaco offer ideal conditions for the diverse animals that inhabit the protected area, creating a unique and beautiful landscape in the region.

Fauna and Endemic Species

The park hosts an impressive variety of wildlife, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Visitors will have the opportunity to spot native species, some of which are rarely seen in other parts of the world. So far, 161 bird species, 24 mammal species, and 30 reptile species have been recorded.

Among the birds, species such as the tortoise, the little tinamou, the crowned eagle, and the black woodpecker can be found. These birds, along with many others, find a suitable habitat in the park for their survival and reproduction.

In terms of mammals, the park is home to emblematic species such as the southern tamandua, the Cordoba mole rat (an endemic species), the white-lipped peccary, and the Chacoan peccary. Some of these species are categorized as being at risk at the national level. They find a protected space within the park where they can carry out their vital activities and maintain their populations.

It’s also home to a variety of reptiles, with 30 species recorded so far. These reptiles play an important role in the ecosystem’s balance and contribute to the park’s biological diversity.

Geological and Geographic Features

Geology of Traslasierra

The geology of the Traslasierra National Park is particularly fascinating, with a variety of rock formations and unique geological features. Visitors can explore its mountainous terrain, traverse deep valleys, and discover beautiful lakes and rivers.

Geography and Highlighted Landscapes

The park offers spectacular landscapes, ranging from majestic mountains to serene valleys and lakes. Points of interest include various peaks and viewpoints with panoramic vistas, providing opportunities for unparalleled photography.

Climate of the Park Region

The park has a continental subtropical climate. Precipitation is scarce, averaging between 350 and 480 mm per year, and is mainly concentrated during the summer. This distribution of rainfall results in a marked water deficit, as potential evapotranspiration is very high in the region. The average annual temperature is around 20°C, with absolute highs that can reach 42°C, although record temperatures of up to 47°C have been recorded on occasion. On the other hand, minimum temperatures can drop to -6°C, especially during the period between May and August, when frosts are frequent.

A small area in the eastern part of the estate is located within the Chaco Serrano. This zone corresponds to the western slopes of the Guasapampa and Pocho mountain ranges and is characterized by extremely steep slopes, deep ravines, and vertical cliffs. In this area, precipitation is slightly higher, ranging from 400 to 500 mm per year, also concentrated in the summer.

Recommended Activities and Excursions

Historical Site (formerly Pinas Estate) (ex Estancia Pinas)

The Historical Site of the Traslasierra National Park is located in the former Pinas Estate. This place offers a glimpse into the past and the history of the region, allowing visitors to explore the historical remains of this iconic property.

Los Mistoles Trail

The Los Mistoles Trail is an ideal option for those seeking a short and easy hike. With an approximate duration of 15 minutes, this trail provides the opportunity to immerse oneself in the park’s natural environment and enjoy the beauty of the local flora and fauna.

Pinagasta Trail and Viewpoint (Mirador Pinagasta)

The Pinagasta Trail and Viewpoint offer a more challenging experience, with a round trip hike of about 1 hour. This partially paved trail provides the opportunity to ascend to the mountains and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Birdwatching and Wildlife Observation

It’s a prominent location for birdwatching. With over 160 recorded species, bird enthusiasts can delight in the diversity of species inhabiting the park. From raptors to colorful songbirds, there is much to discover and admire.

Panoramic Views

Panoramic views are a highlighted attraction of the Traslasierra National Park. With its location in the mountains, the park offers stunning views of valleys, mountains, and the surrounding landscapes. Visitors can enjoy these views from strategically positioned viewpoints, capturing the natural beauty of the region.

Water Activities in Rivers and Lakes

The rivers and lakes of Traslasierra provide opportunities for water activities such as swimming, fishing, and canoeing. These activities are an excellent way to experience the park’s beauty from a different perspective.

Conservation and Management

Conservation Challenges

The park faces various conservation challenges, from climate change to the impact of human activities. Diverse strategies and programs are being implemented to protect and conserve this special place for future generations.

Conservation Programs and Projects

Several projects and programs are underway to protect the park’s biodiversity and promote conservation. Visitors can learn about these efforts and, in some cases, participate in conservation activities during their visit.

Practical Information for Visitors

Getting There by Car

To reach the Traslasierra National Park by car from different points, you can follow the following routes:

From Córdoba Capital via Villa Dolores

  1. Take Provincial Route (RP) 20 from Córdoba towards Falda del Cañete (Alta Gracia).
  2. Continue on RP 34, known as the Ruta de las Altas Cumbres, towards Mina Clavero.
  3. From Mina Clavero, head south on RP 14 towards Villa Dolores.
  4. Take the detour to San Pedro and continue on RP 51 to the intersection with RP 28, passing through Chancaní.
  5. At the El Cadillo Intersection, turn left towards La Rioja and travel about 10 km until you find a signposted detour that leads to the South Entrance.
  6. Turn right at the South Entrance and continue on the local road for approximately 10 km to the entrance gate. Then, continue for another 18 km until you reach the visitor area.

From Mina Clavero via "Los Túneles"

From Mina Clavero, head north until you reach RP 15.

  1. Take RP 15 towards Taninga.
  2. In Taninga, turn left onto RP 28.
  3. Pass through "Los Túneles" and continue towards Paraje El Cadillo on RP 28.
  4. After passing through Paraje El Cadillo, you’ll find a signposted detour leading to the South Entrance of the protected area. Turn right at the detour and continue on the local road for about 10 km until you reach the South Entrance. Then, continue for another 18 km until you reach the visitor area.

From Cruz del Eje

  1. Head south on National Route (RN) 38 until you reach Villa de Soto.
  2. In Villa de Soto, take RP 15 towards Taninga.
  3. From Taninga, enter RP 28 and follow the aforementioned directions to reach Traslasierra National Park.

From El Milagro (La Rioja Province)

  • Take the dirt road opposite the El Milagro bus terminal on RN 77.
  • Travel 35 km until you connect with RP 20 in the La Rioja Province.
  • Turn left at this intersection and continue for 32 km on RP 20, which later becomes RP 28 in the Córdoba Province.
  • After traveling the mentioned 32 km, you’ll find the access to the South Entrance of the Park on the left side of the road.
  • It’s important to note that some sections of the mentioned routes are gravel roads, so the road conditions should be considered.
  • The estimated travel time may vary, but under normal conditions, the journey from Córdoba Capital is estimated to take around 6 hours.

Getting There by Bus

From the city of Córdoba and the town of Mina Clavero, you can find direct buses that arrive in Salsacate. Salsacate is a town close to the park and can serve as a starting point to access it.

However, it’s important to note that from Salsacate or Chancaní, the closest towns, there is no public transportation that takes you directly to Traslasierra National Park. It’s necessary to have a private vehicle to enter the park and explore its designated areas.

Therefore, if you choose to use public transportation, it’s recommended to plan ahead and arrange access to the park through your own vehicle, car rental, or through taxi or remis services from Salsacate or Chancaní to the park.

Considering the available transportation options and access limitations to the park is essential to ensure an enjoyable visit.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Traslasierra National Park, taking into account the region’s climate, is during the spring months (September to November) and autumn months (March to May). These seasons offer more moderate conditions in terms of temperature and precipitation, making the park experience more pleasant.

During spring, temperatures gradually rise after winter, and the landscapes come to life with vegetation blooming. It’s an ideal time to enjoy hikes and explore the park’s trails as temperatures are mild and there’s a greater variety of birds and active species.

Autumn is also a recommended time as temperatures are pleasant, and the fall colors add beauty to the landscapes. It’s a great time for outdoor activities and appreciating the panoramic views the park offers.

Prices and Fees

Access to the park is free of charge.

Contact Information

  • Administrative Headquarters of Traslasierra National Park.
  • Address: Aristóbulo del Valle N° 7 (5284), Villa de Soto, Córdoba.
  • Email: [email protected].
  • Phone: (03541) 15243404.

Camping and Accommodation in the Park

For those who wish to spend the night in the park, there are several well-equipped camping areas and accommodations available in the region. Camping under the stars in Traslasierra is a truly unforgettable experience.

Rest and Food Areas

There’s a daytime use area where visitors can enjoy outdoor activities. This space provides rest areas, picnic tables, and recreational zones for people to enjoy a day outdoors in direct contact with the park’s nature.

Rules and Recommendations for Visitors

Respecting the park’s rules is important to ensure the safety of all visitors and the protection of wildlife and the environment. We will provide a list of recommendations and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

Local Culture and Interaction with Communities

Cultural History of the Region

Local culture is rich in history and traditions. We will explore the cultural history of the region, including the influence of different cultures and how they have shaped the identity of local communities.

Indigenous Communities and the National Park

The indigenous communities present in Traslasierra National Park are diverse and specific to the region. Some of them include the Comechingones, Sanavirones, and Diaguitas, among other indigenous groups. These communities have inhabited the region since ancient times, maintaining their culture, traditions, and traditional knowledge related to the natural environment. Their presence in the park is of vital importance as they contribute to biodiversity conservation and the preservation of cultural heritage. Through respectful interactions and collaborative programs, the recognition and appreciation of indigenous communities as key players in the management and protection of Traslasierra National Park are promoted.

The Relationship between Tourism and the Community

The relationship between tourism and the Traslasierra community is of vital importance. Tourism has been a significant source of income for local communities, providing economic opportunities, employment, and infrastructure development. Tourism can also be a way to preserve and promote local culture, allowing communities to share their heritage and traditions with visitors.

However, this relationship also presents challenges. It’s important for tourism to develop sustainably and respectfully with the community and the environment. Preserving cultural authenticity and balancing community needs with tourist demands are key aspects to consider.

Community participation in planning and decision-making related to tourism is essential to ensure that benefits are shared equitably and the values and aspirations of the community are respected. Furthermore, responsible tourism promotes the conservation of natural and cultural environments, raising awareness about the importance of preserving resources in the long term.

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