10 Amazing National Parks in Argentina
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Welcome to the national parks of Argentina that offer a wealth of options for outdoor explorers!
Hikes, bird watching, sighting a penguin colony, or stumbling across drawings of prehistoric caves or fossilized dinosaur footprints - all these activities and more await you in Argentina's various national parks. You can choose the type of adventure you want to experience, whether you are heading to an isolated or popular location, or opting for a desert or an ice field.
1. Nahuel Huapi National Park
Surrounded by the mountainous city of Bariloche in the province of Río Negro in Patagonia, Nahuel Huapi National Park contains some of the most popular hikes in Argentina, such as the Frey forest hike or the Monte Tronador hanging glacier route. Its seven lakes offer cool, clean water, perfect for an icy swim after a long day of rock climbing. Other activities here include camping in shelters (mountain huts), camping in tents in Colonia Suiza, rafting, kitesurfing, snowboarding, and skiing. Day trippers can enjoy the 360-degree panoramic view from the top of Cerro Campanero, showcasing the vast area and beauty of the park's lakes, peninsulas, and forests.
2. Los Glaciares National Park
Visitors to Los Glaciares National Park come to see and hike the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the second largest ice field in the Southern Hemisphere. Every two to four years, large crowds gather here to see chunks of the Perito Moreno glacier crash into Lake Argentina. The park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also contains hikes to two of the country's most famous mountains: Mount Fitz Roy and Mount Torre. Home to huemuls (Patagonian deer), condors, black-breasted buzzards, rheas, guanacos, and pumas, the park encompasses sub-arctic forests and giant mountains. Stay in the vicinity of El Calafate if you want to see glaciers, or El Chalten is a better base for hiking.
3. Tierra del Fuego National Park
Tierra del Fuego translates as "Tierra del Fuego", that's how Fernando de Magallanes and his men called it in 1520 when they saw the bonfires of the indigenous tribes of the region. Spread over a vast archipelago, the national park includes subpolar forests, seashores, lakes, lagoons, swamps, and snow-capped mountains. Hikers walk its 25 miles of trails, sometimes encountering guanacos or Fuegian foxes. Two popular trails are the Camino de la Costa that runs parallel to the Beagle Channel and Hito XXIV, an easy hike to the Chilean border. Tierra del Fuego is also a bird watcher's paradise, filled with southern parakeets, seagulls, kingfishers, condors, king penguins, owls and crown of fire hummingbirds. The city of Ushuaia is only seven and a half miles away, but for those who want to immerse themselves in the flora and fauna of the park, a campground is available.
4. Jaramillo Petrified Forest National Park
At the top of the Patagonian steppe there is a stone forest older than the Andes themselves: the petrified forest of Jaramillo. Now extinct, these ancient petrified evergreen trees called "Araucaria mirabilis" dot the arid and windy landscape. Large flightless birds (both rhea and ostriches), guanacos and foxes scurry through the bushes along with scientists who consider this one of the most important fossil sites in the country. Take a guided tour with the park rangers or visit the museum on site where you can learn how volcanic activity started turning these trees into rocks around 150 million years ago. Nearby Estancia La Paloma offers food, braziers, overnight camping, and two of the largest petrified trees in the world. Located in the province of Santa Cruz, the closest town is Jaramillo.
5. Golfo San Jorge National Park
The largest colony of Magellanic penguins in South America roosts here every year, half a million from September to March. Find penguins swinging and nesting in the Punta Tombo Provincial Reserve, part of the larger Golfo San Jorge National Park. Bird enthusiasts also look for seaweed gulls, dolphin gulls, skuas, royal cormorants, snowy beaks, and many other varieties of birds. You can also see whales and dolphins swimming in the gulf. Located in the province of Chubut, it can be easily reached from the cities of Puerto Madryn (a popular spot for whale watching in its own right) or Trelew.
6. Chaco National Park
Just 3.5 miles from the town of Capitán Solari in the Chaco province, the Chaco National Park encompasses part of Argentina's Gran Chaco, filled with warm plains and large red and white quebracho (ax breaker) trees. The park contains savannas, swamps and lakes and several trails where you can see capybaras, alligators or armadillos. Over 340 species of birds call the park home, making bird watching the other main activity besides hiking. One of the best places to do both is on the trail to Lake Panza de Cabra, an important source of water for most of the area's wildlife. The indigenous communities of Mocoví and Toba also live within the park.
7. Sierra de las Quijadas National Park
The canyons of the Red Desert give way to the Desaguadero River and tall sandstone pillars in this remote national park in the San Luis province. Fossils and dinosaur tracks crisscross the landscape, and condors and black-breasted buzzards fly over herds of rampant guanacos. Visitors come for hiking, serenity, and wildlife viewing. It is recommended that you book a local hiking guide through the park headquarters as flash floods can occur, especially in the summer. The park and the main road leading to it have no shops. Visitors should bring water and any supplies they intend to use while in the park.
8. Iguazu Falls National Park
Hear the crash and feel the mist from the world's largest waterfall system at Cataracas de Iguazú National Park (Cataratas del Iguazú). The 275 waterfalls create a natural border between Puerto Iguazú, Argentina and Foz de Iguazú, Brazil. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Argentine side of the park offers a more interactive experience where visitors can walk along the top and bottom of the falls and get closer to the tallest and most majestic waterfall of all: the Devil's Throat, a gigantic 262- Cascade of water walking over a huge basin of mist. In addition to climbing around the falls, visitors can spot wild coatis, jaguars, and toucans and take a boat ride in and out of the falls.
9. Los Cardones National Park
Great forests of huge and proud candelabra cacti, high desert peaks and the Enchanted Valley: this was the land of the Incas. Watch condors, eagles, vicuñas, wild donkeys and foxes fly and roam the arid mountain ranges and cool ravines of Los Cardones National Park. Located in the province of Salta, the closest city to the park is Salta (the capital of the same name), about 60 miles away. Visitors can hike through four different types of ecological regions, watch birds (more than 100 varieties nest here), and see rock drawings and fossilized dinosaur tracks. Visitors must bring their own supplies, as the park has no services.
10. Laguna Blanca National Park
White Lake National Park is named after its most famous inhabitant - the black-necked swan. When swans float on the lake, the white feathers on their bodies make the lake appear to those who see it from afar as if it is covered in snow. Bird watching is the most popular activity here, as 100 species of ducks, coots, geese, and flamingos call the park home. Located a few kilometers from the city of Zapala in the province of Neuquén, the park is also home to the Salamanca cave with cave paintings, the endangered Patagonian frog and numerous hiking trails.
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