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NATIONAL PARKS, MONUMENTS AND RESERVATIONS IN THE COQUIMBO REGION

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature and history converge in the Coquimbo Region with the opportunity to visit first hand places unique for their flora and fauna or for the preservation of historical evidence.  All sites are open to the public at times stated and care is taken to maintain their ecological and scientific importance.

 

 

 

Fray Jorge National Park

Due to the condensation of the coastal mist (camanchaca) the vegetation on the leeward side of the coastal hills is a hydrophile forest like those found in Southern Chile, 800 kms to the South  and known as  Valdivian forests, densely populated with olivillo, myrtle, cinnamon trees and various ferns.  In contrast, in the semi arid parts are found dozens of varieties of cacti and low bushes like the copao, guayacan, caper and teasel. The Park covers 9,559 hectares and a variety of ecosystems.  The park is home to quails, eagles, hawks, owls, rabbits and foxes.  Even the elusive mountain cat, the puma, and guanaco are found in these protected hills. Along the coast because of its relative protection are found sea lions and sea otters, the Limari  estuary being a breeding and resting place for migratory birds. The contrasting diversity of flora, fauna and ecosystems found in this National Park is a wonderful representative microcosm of the Coquimbo Region as a whole. It is unique, for which it was declared a Reserve of the Biosphere in 1977. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open everyday. Entrance hours are from  9:00 am. to 16:30 pm., the Park closes at 17:30 pm.

 

 

Enchanted Valley

Located 19 kilometers southwest of Ovalle, the Enchanted Valley is a vast amphitheatre which was once a religious sanctuary and now has become an open air museum of scientific and cultural interest.  The archaeological excavations have proved that groups of hunter gatherers have inhabited this area for almost 4,000 years, until the seventh century A.D. groups were partially settled in this valley.  Discovered in 1946 and declared a National Historic Monument in 1972, the valley is of great archaeological importance for the petroglyphs, pictographs and 'piedras tacitas' or stone cups in evidence here.  Over thirty petroglyphs are engraved in the rock showing heads with masks, tiaras, antenna, together with sun snake and fishlike forms.  Pictographs drawn in natural rust coloured paint and the stone cups used for grinding food or paints are in evidence, the Valley is open everyday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pichasca Natural Monument

Present here are the remains of a forest petrified over 70 million years ago during the Superior Cetacean Period. The trees were probably buried by the advancing glaciers and rolled into their current position at the top of the hill.  Many of the tree trunks are in excellent shape with their cellular structure complete.  Remnants of dinosaur vertebrate and rib bones together with plates from turtle shells have also been found here. Pichasca's impressive lava overhang forms a small cavern inhabited by humans for over 10,000 years, various remains have been found in this 'stone house' which has a roof overhang 15 meters (50 feet) thick.  Pichasca is situated 53 kilometers to the northeast of Ovalle and is Open from Wednesday to Sunday and holidays. Entrance hours are from 9:00 am. to 16:30 pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinchilla National Reservation

Since 1983 the only reservation which protects the Chilean chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera) in the world has been dedicated preservation of this endangered species. The reservation is located 15 kilometers to the northeast of Illapel in the Choapa Valley.  Some 6,000 chinchillas live here in this unique habitat below the leaves of the puyo cactus on rocky slopes.  Another endangered mammal is also protected by the Reservation and is the small wild cat (Felix colocolo).  The presence of such special flora and fauna in various stages of recuperation has made the Chinchillas National reservation an ideal place for study, investigation and environmental education; it is also supported by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF). 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also chances to see the numerous raptors, including owls, eagles and hawks, together with smaller birds such as quail, tenca and loica.  The Reservation and the Visitor Centre is Open from Wednesday to Sunday and holidays. Entrance hours are from 9:00 am. to 16:30 pm.

 

 

Humboldt Penguin Natural Reservation

The Reservation was created in January 1990 with a total surface of 8,593 hectares located on the border of the III and IV Regions of Chile.  Part of this includes three islands, the Damas, Choros and Gaviota which are located off the coast and approximately 130 kilometers north of La Serena.  The Reservation protects the Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus Humboldti) and is administered by the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF).  There are also colonies of Dominican Republic gulls, South American seagulls, piqueros and tropical white tailed birds as well as other varieties of seabirds.  The rich marine life in this area provides opportunity to observe various species of sea lions, dolphins and sea otters. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the waters surrounding the Choros Island lives a colony of bottlenose dolphins unique in that this is one of only three colonies in the world. Advance reservations are necessary because capacity for visiting is limited.

 

 

 

 

For Information: ventas@ingservtur.cl

Reservations: reservas@ingservtur.cl

 

 

 

 

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