Lauca National Park
Lauca National Park is located in Chile's far north, in the Andean range. It encompasses an area of 1,379 km of altiplano and mountains, the latter consisting mainly of enormous volcanoes. Las Vicunas National Reserve is its neighbour to the south. Both protected areas, along with Salar de Surire Natural Monument, form Lauca Biosphere Reserve. The park borders Sajama National Park in Bolivia.
One of the main attractions of the park is the small lacustrine area formed by Chungara and Cotacotani lakes, which lies at the foothills of the Nevados de Payachata. Other majestic volcanoes forming part of the national park are the Guallatiri and the Acotango. Lauca features include archaeological sites, lava fields and volcanic calderas. Within the park is located the town of Parinacota with its colonial church.
The headwaters of Lauca River are also found within the park and bordering it to the west is Lluta River.
The international Route CH-11 passes through this protected area. It runs from the Pan-American Highway in the vicinity of Arica to Tambo Quemado Pass and provides the main access to the park.
Several species of animals and plants can be found in the park. Mammals in the area include Vicunas, Llamas, Alpacas, Guanacos, Tarucas, Cougars and Vizcachas.
There are over 140 bird species, making it one of the best national parks for birding in Chile. Those include Puna Ibis, Andean Goose, Giant Coot, Puna Tinamou, Silvery Grebe, Crested Duck, Puna Teal, Andean Condor and Chilean Flamingo.
Over 400 species of vascular plants grow in Lauca National Park. The park's vegetation is adapted to the harsh puna environment, as are the bofedales, llaretales and Andean steppes.
Parque Nacional Lauca
World Database on Protected Areas entry
WCMC Site Sheet (Aug. 1990)
Lauca Tour Operator recommended by Lonely Planet
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Lauca National Park