Argentina’s Astonishing Range of Wildlife
Argentina may not be the first country to come to mind when thinking of wildlife destinations,
but the country’s great diversity of landscapes, climates and ecosystems that range from subtropical rainforests in the north to sub-Antarctic forests in the far south make it a great destination to observe unique species of fauna.
Following is a list of some of the best places to discover Argentina’s unique species.
Home to one of the world’s most famous waterfalls, Iguazú National Park is located in the northeastern province of Misiones and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After exploring the falls, you can hike the numerous trails that allow for getting up close and personal with the local fauna and birdlife. The park is home to over 2,000 species of plants and 400 species of birds as well as a variety of wildlife including tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, jaguars and caimans.
Esteros del Iberá, Corrientes
One of the most important freshwater reservoirs in South America and the second largest wetland in the world is a must-visit for wildlife enthusiasts. The Iberá Wetlands are located in the northeastern province of Corrientes and house about 30% of Argentina’s biodiversity with 4,000 species of flora and fauna. One of Iberá’s main objectives is to re-introduce valuable species, such as the yaguarete, Pampas deer, anteater, tapir, collared peccary, red-and-green macaw, bare-faced curassow, giant otter, maned wolf and the red-legged seriema. There is also a project reintroducing the jaguar to this natural habitat after an absence of over 70 years.
Parque Nacional Los Cardones
In the majestic Calchaquí valleys in Argentina’s northwest, 60 miles from the city of Salta, Los Cardones National Park is a sweeping succession of ravines, sierras and valleys at an altitude ranging from 8,200 to 11,000 feet. The park gets its name from the cardón cactus bushes that are dotted throughout the landscape. In addition to protecting a rich prehistoric heritage of dinosaur tracks and fossils, the park is also home to a wide array of wildlife including the red fox, guanaco, viscacha, huayco tinamou, Andean condor, Highland tuco tuco and gray fox.
Argentina is famous for its Pampas, the sprawling grassy plains that have shaped gaucho culture. La Pampa province provides travelers with the opportunity to experience the immensity of these plains and sierras that extend as far as the eye can see and immerse themselves in the traditions of Argentine gauchos, visit classic estancias and regale in an authentic asado (Argentine barbecue). And La Pampa’s Luro Park Reserve is the ideal place to spot red deer and rhea as well as the endemic caldén tree.
Patagonia’s Atlantic Coast
The Valdés Peninsula is the star of Patagonia’s Atlantic coast as far as wildlife viewing is concerned. Visitors flock to the peninsula to view the orca whales and the unique spectacle that happens twice a year when the orcas come to shore to hunt seal pups. The other main whale species that can be seen along the coast of Valdés is the Southern Right Whale, which visitors are almost guaranteed to spot through the months of August to October.
The Valdés Peninsula also houses vast populations of sea lions and elephant seals as well as penguin colonies. But head farther south to Punta Tombo to visit one of the largest colonies of Magellanic penguins in the world. Hundreds of penguins are born here each year and you can mingle with these friendly birds as you walk through the paths of this nature reserve. September to April is the best time to view the penguins as they are only found here during nesting season.
Tierra del Fuego
Located on the Beagle Channel just 7.5 miles from Argentina’s southernmost city, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego National Park combines sea, forest, and mountains that shape the coastline and is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. The park is home to a variety of mammals and aquatic birds including guanacos, southern river otters, Andean fox, kelp geese, black-browed albatross, oystercatchers, seagulls, grebes and the Tierra del Fuego steamer duck. Birdwatchers can also regale in the park’s forests with sightings of the Austral parakeet, the Magellanic woodpecker, the Thorn-tailed rayadito and the Austral thrush among other species.
Additional information on Argentina is available at argentina.travel