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CHILE NATURE

NEVADO TRES CRUCES NATIONAL PARK

Nevado Tres Cruces National Park

Lagoons, salt deposits and luring summits in a cordillera with a beautiful setting, such is the natural decoration of the Nevado Tres Cruces National Park, which was created to protect the delicate ecosystems of the Andes, habitat of an intense native fauna proper of the highlands close to the sky, with meagre vegetation though imposing for their untamed greatness.

The Park is located in a pre-cordilleran area and it has an extension of 59.09 hectares. It presents a geographical semblance on which deserts and Andean salt deposits, along with important wetlands that congregate an attractive flora and fauna, with species adapted to the rigors and austerity proper of places over 3500 metres above sea level, are predominant.

The most attractive sectors in this protected area located in the Commune of Tierra Amarilla, Province of Copiapó (III Atacama Region), are the Salt Deposit of Maricunga and the Santa Rosa and Negro Francisco Lagoons. The Permanent Committee for the Convention of Wetlands, seated in Berna Switzerland, declared the last two RAMSAR areas in 1966.

This declaration as RAMSAR sites is in recognition to the international importance of both Lagoons on the conservation of aquatic birds, which is justified because 62 species have been registered at both of them, mostly from the highlands.

The most outstanding and renowned amongst them are three types of flamingos, being one of them the Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus), Horned Coot (Fulica cornuta), Andean Goose. piuquenes (Chloephaga melanoptera) and the Patagonian crested ducks (Lophonetta specularioides), amongst others.
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    But life in Tres Cruces is not limited to the fluttering of the birds. There are 10 mammal species dwelling in the Park, such as the vicuñas (Vicugna vicugna), guanacos (Lama guanicoe) and the Andean fox (Pseudalopex culpaeus). On the other hand, if one takes into account the entire fauna living in the Park, one comes to the conclusion that there are 17 species in a threatened situation.

    Regarding the flora, it is manifest mainly on the surroundings of the wetlands, and across the lowlands and bogs, with a vegetation characteristic of the highlands.

    The attractive and varied flora and fauna, harmonically conjugates with the singular settings of the salt deposits, and the vigilant beauty of the summits of the Snow-capped Tres Cruces Mountain, at 6753 metres above sea level, and the Azufre Volcano, at 4100 metres, true challenges for mountaineers. Likewise, there are hiking or trekking circuits bordering the Lagoons.

    You have to follow the International Road bound for Paipote Creek, and then continue up to the small port of Santa Rosa, in order to get to the Park from the City of Copiapó, which is 150 kilometres away.

    There are two lodge houses in the Park, one at the Negro Francisco Lagoon, with bathrooms and hot water, and the other with rather rustic characteristics at the Santa Rosa Lagoon. So you have no excuse, come, know and enjoy Tres Cruces and its peculiar natural decoration.



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