Las Chinchillas National Reserve

Las Chinchillas National Reserve

Las Chinchillas National Reserve

Las Chinchillas National Reserve (Reserva Nacional Las Chinchillas) is located in the Province of Choapa and has a surface of 10944 acres. The Reserve’s mountain range has an average altitude of 2788 feet and it’s characterized by small gores that take a northeast direction in the western area and a north direction in the eastern area. The main activities that can be performed in Las Chinchillas National Reserve are: excursions, picnic, camping, observe the flora and fauna, take pictures of natural landscapes and species.

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.

Chinchilla: endangered species endemic on Las Chinchillas National Reserve.

Chinchilla: endangered species endemic on Las Chinchillas National Reserve.

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.

** Information related to Rates, Dates and Hours might change without any previous notice **

2 Responses

  1. Francisco Alberto Retamal Says:

    In addition to the chinchillas, other small mammals (mainly rodents), 2 fox species and felines like the Puma live within the reserve and surrounding hills. Actually only about 1/2 of the wild chinchillas are located within the reserve boundaies. The other half live on private and communally owned lands.The reserve is home to a number of species of birds.

  2. Amy Says:

    Upon arrival:
    The park guards greets the guest. In the educational center, the guard gives an interpretive talk and explains the graphics that cover the walls. They lead visitors through 2 curtains and into the “nocturama”. The rodents include: degus (both species of Octodon), leaf-eared mice, chinchilla rats (Abrocoma), chinchillas. A unique feature is the mouse opossum (Thylamys or Marmosa). If you ask, the guards may give the rodents food, which brings out some activity. The rodents like apples and the mouse opossum hard boiled eggs. You can not feed the animals as they are behind glass.

    The trails are beautiful. When I was there last, they were constructing an accessible trail. The trail head is across from the information center. The other trail head passes along Agua Dulce, a creek just to the northern limit of the reserve. It is about 2km from the educational center. One can walk or drive to the trail head. In the middle is a suspension bridge. If you take the little trail up the basin, there is a picnic area. I like to walk the trail from exit to entrance. It is a nice warm up before the accent. The early mornings are the best time to arrive if you are hiking to the trail. The mornings are cool but the sun burns the clouds off by 10 am. The afternoon is hot during most of the year. The colder months are May to August. I always take lots of water and something salty to prevent dehydration.

    The cabins are clean and have all you need to cook including dishes. At first, the cabins had solar panels. Electric is installed. The area is isolated from local stores. They sell Gatorade in Illapel at Los Naranja’s supermarket. Also, toilet paper is not provided in many places in Chile.

    To get there:
    Buses pass about every hour for the cost of US$2. Buses going south from La Serena and Ovalle. Buses leave Illapel traveling north and pass the reserve. Make sure you ask for a bus that passes the reserve.

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