- Atacama Desert & Altiplano
- Llanos de Challe National Park
Llanos de Challe National Park is located on the coast of the Atacama desert. It is characterized by its flora and fauna, mainly birds and desert scrub.It is a protected area for its high biodiversity and good state of conservation.
The ecology of the park is based on the coastal desert. The park, which was declared an interest site for mining purposes, boasts over 250 animal species, the predominant ones bieng the condor, falco peregrinus, and so forth.
Run by CONAF, this area protects a valuable desert flora, among which the most remarkable genuses are Copiapoa Carrizalensis, and during the flowering dessert phenomenon, the strange and beautiful garra de lón (Leontoichir ovallei). You can also find other flowers like añañuca, pata de guanaco, country lilies, and nolana paradoxa.
The goal of the park is to protect the vegetation of the coastal desert. These vegetal formations have a high biodiversity and a good preservation status in the areas of Llanos de Challe and Carrizal Bajo.
Location: Llanos del Challe National Park is located in the districts of Huasco and Freirina, in the province of Huasco, Región de Atacama.
When to go: Access: year round. Winter: from 8:30 to 17:30. Summer: from 8:30 to 20:00.
Activities: Trekking, fishing, diving, flora and fauna observation.
Other Nearby attracions
- Playa Blanca (White Beach): A scenic landscape, with white sands, and crystal-clear waters. No swimming allowed.
- Carrizal Lagoon: located in the mouth of Carrizal stream, right by the town of Carrizal bajo, this lagoon is remarkable for the large concentration of waterbirds. Some of the most remarkable are: white-winged coot, specked teal, black-crowned night heron, heron, patagonian negrito, white-backed stilt, lesser yellowlegs, black-necked swan, and the Chilean flamingo.
- Carrizal Bajo: it is a fishermen cove located in the mouth of Carrizal stream. Its attraction is based on the cultural and historic traits of this area as an important mining port during the last century. Its church is a National Monument.
Llanos del Valle National Park is located in the Ecoregion of Matorral Chileno, which is caracterised for the diversity of species and a high percentage of endemism. The weather is coastal desert, with high levels of cloudiness. This climate is present between the areas of Chañaral and Punta de Choros, and its thick morning fogs have created a vegetal layer, with many xerophilous specimens. The annual temperature average is 17ºC, with 11-12 dry months. The influence of the Pacific anticyclone prevents precipitations. Nevertheless, they it rains enough for causing the Desierto Florido phenomenon (Flowered Desert).
Llanos de Challe National Park Infrastructure and Services
- Administration Office: The administration of the park is managed by its Huasco office in Vallenar (Merced 731, phone 51-611555). The park promotes the preservation of biodiversity through environmental education, and the respectful enjoyment of nature. The access is public, and in Los Pozos there is a CONAF station with environmental information, a camp site, toilets, and an interpretive road.
- Park Ranger Office: Currently, there are 5 park rangers. Leoncio Paredes (Chief), Yohan Sánchez, Alberto Villegas, Sergio Araya, and Isla Troncoso.
- Camping: Located in Playa Blanca and near CONAF station, there are 10 sites equipped with bonfire, grill, tables, toilets, fresh water, and daily garbage collection.
Attractions in Llanos de Challe National Park
What to do
- Flora and endemic fauna observation
- Sport diving
- Environmental education
- Boat rides
Centenario Interpretive Trail: 2,5 km self-guided trek. It starts in the ranger's station in Los Pozos going through different environments and vegetal formations.
Excursions (You must be accompanied by the park ranger)
- From Station in Los Pozos - Cerro Negro: On foot and accompanied by a park ranger (3 km round trip). It allows for environmental interpretation, flora-fauna observation, and landscape sightseeing. In the coastal plain you can see cacti and the Camanchaca (morning fog) coming from the foot of Cerro Negro.
- Station in the Administration area - Llanos de Challe: Self-guided, by vehicle. It allows for flora and fauna observation, namely herds of guanacos in their natural habitat.
- Foundry-Minillas stream: On foot or by vehicle, self guided or accompanied by a park ranger (16 km round trip). It allows for environmental interpretation and observation of landscapes, flora, fauna, and historical remains.
- Algodones stream: Self guided, in 4x4 vehicles. It allows for the observation of flora and fauna. There are also beautiful landscapes and vestiges of gold mining.
- El Mono stream: On foot, self guided or accompanied by a park ranger (10 km round trip). It allows for environmental interpretation, observation of flora, fauna, and historical vestiges of mining.
- La Higuera stream: Self guided with 4x4 vehicle. It allows for environmental interpretation and flora- fauna observation.
Llanos de Challe National Park Natural Heritage
The vegetal species present in this park belong to the categories of "Flowered desert of Los Llanos" and "Coastal desert of Huasco" (Gajardo, 1983). Due to the closeness to the sea and the presence of "Camanchaca", or coastal fog, these vegetal formations have a strong presence in the desert. Besides, there is a great variety of flowers due to the rains that trigger the "Flowered desert".
The flora in this park is made up by 220 different species, 14 of which are endemic, and can only be found in the region of Atacama. Besides, the park shelters many vulnerable species. Currently there are 2 endangered ("Garra de leon" and napina") and 14 vulnerable categories.
The fauna in this park is associated to the communities of matorral desértico. The most abounding groups are birds, such as diuca diuca, dabbene, grey-hooded sierra-finch, and the plain-mantled tit-spinetail.
You will also find carnivore mammals like the South American gray fox and the Andean fox, micromammals like Darwin's Leaf-eared Mouse and the Olive Grass Mouse, and the Yaca, one two Chilean marsupials. One of the main objectives of this park is the conservation of the guanaco population present in it.
The guanaco (Lama guanicoe)
It is the largest wild mammal in Chile. It can adapt to several weather conditions, like the extreme ones found in the semi-desert area of the park. An adult reaches up to 1.70 mt and 140 kg. This beautiful animal, an icon of Atacameño identity, is curently an endangered species. Indiscriminate hunting, dog attacks, and the fragmentation of its habitat are the main reasons behind its disappearance.
Guanacos are organised in three social units. Families, single males and solitary mails. The family is the most stable and defined unit, with a polygamous regime led by an adult male and constituted by several females. The breed (chulengo) stays in the family until the year, when it is violenty expelled by the dominant male. The size of the group ranges from 2 to 30 specimens, depending on the location and extension of its habitat.
The solitary males are adults that delimit a territory in which females cannot enter, while the single male group include specimens of different ages, which have been expelled form family groups. Each group has a feeding area which is defined by the male and demarcated by the defecators. The guanaco is a low impact herbivore that fulfills an important role as a seed spreader, as manure with its hez, and it is also an important part of the trophic chain.
It can reach 50 km/h. Speed is very important for its survival, because there are no hideouts in the open spaces it inhabits. Its neigh is a very characteristic alarm, and it is the way the use to warn other of an imminent danger.
The guanaco is part of the South American camelids, along with the vicuna, alpaca and
Llanos de Challe National Park has a surface rea of 45,708 ha. It was founded in 1994 by the National Goods Ministry with the purpose of protecting the vegetal formations of the Huasco Coastal Desert. It has also been declared an scientific interest site for mining purposes.
Given the characteristics of the park, the main objective regarding its management and development are:
- To preserve representative samples of the Desert Ecologic Region and the vegetal species of the Huasco Coastal Desert.
- To protect the park's natural resources and the biologic diversity
- To protect the scenic beauty of the parks hills, beaches, and desert.
- To promote scientific research and environmental education activities.
- Promote recretational activities as long as they are compatible with the protection of the park's natural resources.
- Contribute to the development of the adjacent communities through activities that are compatible with the objectives mentioned above.
The park promotes the preservation of biological divesity through environmental education, contemplation and enjoyment of nature in a respectful way. Currently it is open for public use with recreational and educational purposes.
The cuisine in the North of Chile is characterized by a variety of legumes and cereals, due to the arid climate. Within the most common ingredients are quinoa, a staple in the Inca culture, also is the potato, carrot and various tropical fruits like mango, passion fruit and guava.
Among typical dishes are roast alpaca cooked on firewood, chuño which is a soup-based Popes alpaca, onion, wheat and other vegetables. Also you can find al types of seafood and fishes to make differents dishes.
Further to the North, a typical sweet is the chumbeque this fact of flour, lard and layers of Orange, mango, passion fruit jams. There are also the pululos, which are a kind of very common puffed rice in the north end.
How to go
- Plain: From Santiago to Copiapó.
- Bus: From Santiago to Vallenar/ Copiapó to Vallenar.
- Tour: From Vallenar to Llanos de Challe National Park.
For more information about prices press the next link: http://www.conaf.cl/parques/parque-nacional-llanos-de-challe/
The weather in this place is desertic, which means that throughout the year there is a very large temperature oscillation between day and night. The average annual temperatures are between 15° C and 3° C.
Stores in rural areas are open all day, but they close between 13.00 and 15.00. We advise you to carry local currency (Chilean pesos), since it isn’t possible to pay with debit or credit cards in kiosks and rural stores.
Do not throw garbage on the beaches, parks or streets. To take care of our environment is everyone's responsibility. Avoid fines by following the rules.