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BARITU NATIONAL PARK

SALTA

ARGENTINA

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SALTA

BARITU NATIONAL PARK

With its rough profile crossed by torrential streams in the southern hemisphere summer season, green and diverse vegetation and assorted fauna, the Parque Nacional Baritú National Park is a truly natural world with its deep smell of leaves and wet soil. An almost secluded place to the sunlight and man as well that reaches unknown magnitudes.

This is the Baritú Nacional Park, where the tropical forest goes all the way up to its highest peaks, and untouched nature rejoices itself in its unique specimens.

In order to preserve an area were the Cloud Forest has remained practically virgin, due to its inaccessibility and uneven terrain, the National Park was created in the year 1974, and its difficult terrain has been the main motive to prevent wood extraction from that area.

With an area of 72 thousand hectares, Baritú is located in the Northwest of the Province of Salta, in the Departments of Orán and Santa Victoria, on the border to Bolivia.

The Park is naturally enclosed by four mountain ranges: to the North stands the Sierra del Porongal, to the East the Las Pavas Highlands, at an altitude ranging about 2000 m.a.s.l. To the South the Cerro Negro Mountain and the Rio Pescado Highlands. And to the West the Highlands of the Cinco Picachos, with altitudes of about 1900 metres above sea level.

Despite of the uncounted expeditions that had managed to travel through the Park, Baritú Park remains as an unknown territory that has not yet unravelled all of its secrets. Accordingly, it still raises the constant curiosity of investigators, sportsmen and adventurers alike.

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* Northeast Circuit
- Iruya
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- Baritu
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la Nueva Oran

- Tartagal
* West Andean
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To be inside the Tropical forest is like being in a hot tub, because the sunlight seldom passes through the dense vegetation, and the smell of the leaves that carpet the ground is so intense. The Baritú lands are known as "Nuboselva" or Cloud Forest because of the permanent rains and clouds that arise hiding the sunrays, all of which contribute to create a very damp microclimate.

Among the uncounted rivers that flow across the Park, we can mention the Río Lipeo River, that runs in the North, and the Porongal and Pescado Rivers that deliver their waters into the Río Bermejo River that, a small portion of which leaves the limits of the northern border of the Park.

Within the deep silence of the Baritú National Park, the sound of a single leaf falling to the wet ground can be perfectly heard and the atmosphere seems to be filled with intense perfumes of greenery. This is the environment where the most dense and tropical forest can develop freely.

This is the northernmost among the protected areas that safe keep the forests where tree ferns and the Strangling fig (Ficus maroma) grow. Like some figs or native rubber trees, this last specie is very unique, because it is able to germinate above other trees, and thus make a living as an epiphyte during its first years of life, while reaching for the ground with its roots.

Once it touches ground, the ficus maroma grows at fast speed, surrounding and suffocating the host tree until eventually killing it. The Salta cedars that grow here, along with their invaluable wood, reach very large sizes in these lands.

On several damp locations, and usually standing above 800 m.a.s.l., groves of myrtle tree along with the so-called horco molle Pepper tree, the mato and the güili trees, among other species, grow here.

Tipa, Pacarás and Cebil trees, along with tarcos and cochuchos, represent the Transition Forest. There are no groves of queñoa, nor any highland pastures inside the Baritú National Park. Some small trees grow among the sides of the rivers and streams, as the tusca and the pajaro bobo, along with certain bushes as the trementina.

Regarding the animal wildlife, it is plentiful and assorted.

Twelve species of fish are actually registered, among which are worthy of mention the dientudos, the viejas, the bagres (catfish) and the yuscas; 20 species of amphibians, 18 species of reptiles such as laggards, some of them arboreal, and vipers like the Pit viper or yarará, the rattlesnake, the coral snake and many others. There are also many species of birds and 59 species of mammals among which we can mention the Jaguar or yaguareté, the puma, the tapir, the peccary, the corzuela deer, along with mountain foxes, squirrels, coatis, ferrets, monkeys and many others.

Among birds, flocks of many kinds of parrots and toucans are a usual sight, along with all ranges of birds of prey searching for their quarry from some high viewing point. There are also herons, guans and lots of smaller birds.

The Baritú Park is also the homeland to several endangered species as the jaguar or yaguareté, which, although being scarce, subsists in isolated areas of the "yunga" region. Another feline, the onza cat or ocelot, noticeably smaller than the puma, proudly wears its dark spotted yellow hide.

The tapir is a major character among the higher mammals. Its big footprints can usually be spotted along the paths and on the fringes of the water springs. Other common species are the collared pecarí, the mountain fox, the coati, the agouti and the cai monkey.

Nearby some rivers and fountains, where clear water ponds inhabited by so called boga and Shad fish appear, some aquatic carnivore predators such as the lobito del río River otter and the mayuato or racoon dwell. The former shows a very shiny dark brown coloured hide, with two kinds of hair, one longer and heavier layer, covering another one that is shorter and thinner. The mayuato or racoon can be easily spotted due to its appealing black mask, covering its eyes and muzzle, and by its ringed tail.
Other typical dwellers of these areas are the mirlo de agua or water blackbird, often found among the rocks of the streams, and the yapú, a kind of big sized thrush (Yanthornus decumanus) that builds hanging nests. We will also find bats, as the big fisher, who feeds on fish and water borne insects hunting them with its claws while flying in groups close to the water surface. One of the rare marsupial toads, the red striped one, dwells in the highlands of the Park.

CLIMATE
The climate is known as sierra sub-tropical. 90 percent of its annual rain descent is achieved during the southern hemisphere summer, reaching an annual rate of 1800 millimetres. The annual average temperature is 21º C, in the Summer season. It has no camping facilities, nor any tourist commodities. The tourist affluence is minimal, due to its difficult access, so entrance is through the Bolivian border.

WHEN TO COME
To reach the Parque Nacional de Baritú National Park you have to schedule an expedition with expert guides and preferably during the southern hemisphere winter or spring seasons, because in summertime the access becomes mostly impossible, due to the higher flow of the rivers and streams that cross the Park. Furthermore, dangerous animals change locations in summer upon the increase of the big rains and the fierce sunshine. Recommended season: Winters and early springtime.

HOW TO GET THERE
Due to its isolation, the access to the park turns out to be complicated. The tourist development collides head on with the state of the roads, because they are unpaved and become very muddy in summer.

There are three ways for accessing the Reserve:
  • Travelling from Salta to Orán and from there to Aguas Blancas across National Route No 50 and over the Bermejo River. Once in the locality of Bermejo in Bolivian territory, you go through Nogalito, La Mamora, then crossing the river for a second time, this one onto the Argentinean side thus arriving to the town of Los Toldos, then to the Lipeo River and from there to the Baritú National Park doing a total of 464 kilometres. From San Ramón de la Nueva Orán you can take the National Route. No 50 to Aguas Blancas, it being the closest town to the protected area. From there departs the Ruta Provincial No 19 that will take you to the southern boundary of the Park across 34 kilometres of a dirt road track. You will have to pass through Los Toldos, entering Bolivian territory.
  • As in the first option, travel from Salta to Orán, then to Aguas Blancas and from there to Angosto del Pescado, from were you sail up the river for some eight kilometres until reaching the place where the Porongal and Pescado Rivers join, already inside the Park. Sailing on the Angosto River is an unforgettable experience. This option is 360 kilometres in distance.
  • As in options 1 and 2, travel from Salta to Orán. Get to the Rio Blanco River and from there across the Piedras, Astilleros, Iruya and Alisar rivers until getting to the Porongal River from where you drive up the Sierra del Porongal to get into the jungle. This option presents a total 380 kilometres distance.
ACTIVITIES
For visitors planning to take an expedition, already the only way in, the activities will undoubtedly turn out to be diverse and unforgettable. Baritú offers to the adventurer a real tropical safari, although it does not offer tourist infrastructure. Simply getting into it is pure trekking, and once in the Park, beholding plants and animals becomes a main activity.

 


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