LUGARES MAGAZINE Nro. 38
Page. 100 - 105
By: Soledad Gil
Pictures: Federico Quintana
Federico Norte picked us up at 8 o'clock. He was accompanied by Martine and Claudia, two Gennan girls who were spending the week-end in Salta
and joined us cm our excursion. We started out taking Route 31, up to the crossing with the Provincial Route 5. We continued for some 45 km until we reached the entrance to the National Park. From that
moment onwards we couldn't afford to miss a single detail.
Our attention was captured by different species crossing our path and our eyes would turn in awe from one side to the other. We reached the administration office, where we stopped to register our names
and collect some brochures with the necessary information about the place. The campsite was nearby, as well as the charming hotel, which
is presently closed to the public. In the meantime those who don't find camping a particularly attractive prospect, can check in the Las Lajitas hotel 85 km away. Not a bad idea if one plans to explore
the totality of the 44,162 hectares of the National Park, which include valleys, hills, rivers, forests and cascades.
The park celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, and taking the administration office as a startin point, there are several circuits which can be explored. These are basically classified in three sectors. The first being that of the Popayan River, the "Pozo Verde" and the Los Lobitos cascade. Fishing is forbidden in the river, however schools of different varieties of fish including shad, catfish, bream, and
dorados can be clearly seen swimming freely in the clear waters. For hirdwatchers the best option is La Laguna dc tos Patitos, only 1.5 km from the administration office. Here different species can be spotted such as "macas", bald coots, ducks, kingfishers and jacanas (wading American birds).
We chose to have lunch mid then in the company of Rafael Teran, the forest keeper, and Bonzo, his dog, we followed the trail of the tapirs to the river. We were amazed at the deep shades of grccn, the heat and the amount of water even in winter. Nothing around us could have given away the season of the year in which we were living, except when we had to roll up our trousers to cross the river. From the banks
it looked like a piece of cake. But keeping our balance on a pair of frozen feet wasn't such an easy thing to :accomplish. You may be asking yourselves if the temperature was so warm and we had to cross
rivers why w e weren't wearing shorts. There is a simple explanation for this: ticks and other close relatives of this very irritating bug. They don't transtmit diseases, but they stick by hundreds to
your clothes and body. Light coloured clothing makes it easier to spot them and pick them off. We did this to each other not unlike monkeys picking lice off each other's fur. Packing some insect repellent in one's baggage is not such a bad idea, coming to think of it.
After we were dressed normally again, we returned to the truck , wet but happy! No matter the angle, whichever way we looked, there was so much wildlife to take in. Another attraction was La Cascada del
Lobito, a very tempting waterhole at about 4km from the administration office, but not having the necessary bathing gear and considering that it was getting late we resisted the temptation. We took a different
path through walnut trees, cedars, oaks, ferns, and the saw the first truly huge trees of the forest, but we didn't take the road to Pozo Verde which implied climbing 9 km. Exhausted we, climbed in to our
seats and drove away just as the sky became an explosion of pinks and blues, and fell asleep long before the moon appeared to watch over us.