Las Chinchillas National Reserve is dominated by the typical vegetation of dry zones where cactuses are found in abundance, especially on the exposed hillsides.
National Las Chinchillas Reserve is the unity destined to protect the extinction of the last colonies of “chinchillas” (crepuscular rodents) existing in the country. This endemic specie from Chile, is a funny rodent of short and extremely soft hair that during many years was intensely exploited to manufacture fine furs. The “Chinchilla Lanígera” is usually found in the high parts of the hills, of northern exposition, measures 9.8 inches, plus 5.9 inches of its tail and weighs from 0.6 to 1.1 pounds. The females are a little bit bigger than the males. It’s endemic of semidry ecosystems of the IV Region. Crepuscular and herbivore, the “Chinchilla Lanígera” does not drink water. To get to know this specie of nocturnal habits and very hard to observe, the unit counts with a “nocturama” unique in South America that simulates the night conditions allowing to observe seven species of native mammals in their natural environment, and as well other species that are part of their natural environment.
Amongst the most known birds and easiest to spot in Las Chinchillas National Reserve are: Chilean mockingbird (tenca), thrush (zorzal), tinamou (perdiz), meadowlark ( loica), quail (codorniz), diuca-finch (diuca), dove (tórtola), yellow-bridled finch (yal), white-throated tapaculo (tapaculo) and moustache turca (turca). Amongst the rapacious: eagle (águila), harrier (aguilucho), winged hawk (peuco), owl (lechuza), burrowing owl (pequén), Austral Pygmy-Owl (chuncho) and the “tucuquere” (South American type of barred owl).
It also stands out an interpretation path at Las Chinchillas National Reserve, which is specially recommended to take during the flowering period between September and December.
Las Chinchillas National Reserve is under the supervision of CONAF, and is open between January and February from Monday to Sunday and holidays from 9.00 am to 6 18.00 pm and the rest of the year, from Monday to Sunday, from 9 am to 5 pm. The admission ticket costs $1.600, children. Lodges are $6.000 Chilean pesos daily per person. More information available at CONAF.
Las Chinchillas National Reserve is accessed by a route connecting Illapel with Combarbalá at 9.3 miles northeast of the city. This route crosses the junction in a stretch of 3.1 miles.
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