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National park

Henry Pittier

* Ubication Aragua and Carabobo State

* Location

In the Coastal Range, encompassing both slopes in the states of Aragua and Carabobo.

* How to get there

By land from Maracay, taking the road east to Choroní (44 km.), or west to Ocumare de la Costa, Turiamo, Cata.

* Characteristics

Henri François Pittier has the honor of having started the history of the national parks in Venezuela. This park, which attracted him in 1919, has an irregular and abrupt topography which greatly influences the regimen of temperatures and precipitation, defining every altitudinal level. Its geological constitution is basically metamorphic igneous rock. The highest elevation is 2,436 m. Likewise, there are environments of rocky shore. Its altitude ranges from sea level to 2,430 m. at the Cenizo Peak. It has an important hydrographic network and, due to its physical characteristics and the diversity of areas, it is an exceptional environment for certain migratory birds and fish.

* Vegetation

The different altitudinal levels make for abundant vegetation formations, the most important of which are the xerophytic forest, dry shrubby deciduous forest, savanna vegetation, and cloud forest. The ascent to the summit and the descent towards the coast offer the opportunity of getting to know the biotopic splendor it encloses. In the highest altitudes and up to 1,500 m., the humid tropical forest dominates; palm trees are abundant, particularly the "holy" palm and the "prapa" palm, the cupey, the cobbler-shrub, etc. Likewise, there are several species of ferns, orchids, epiphytes and bromeliads. The cloud forest is between 800 and 1,500 m., with species such as "The Children", the leadtree, different species of Ficus, etc. Likewise, there are ferns, gesneriads, ericaceous plants, araceous plants and rubiaceous plants. A grass with gigantic leaves called Gunnera pittierana, known only in this country, grows here. At 700 m. there is the deciduous forest with trees such as the trumpetwood, the wild cotton, the strangler fig, the Tree hibiscus, etc. Towards 400 m., savanna vegetation predominates; between 400 and 200 m., the shrubby forest; from there to 10 m., xerophytic vegetation and, finally, the mangroves along the coast.

* Fauna

Approximately 520 species of birds, which represent 41.6Tlf. of the national total and 6.5Tlf. of the world total, inhabit this park. This habitat is of unique importance for the migratory species of birds. At the summit is the Portachuelo Pass, at an elevation of 1,128 m., and due to its V shape, it is the main route for migratory birds and insects which, after flying over the sea, cross the continent from Argentina to Newfoundland. According to studies of the Rancho Grande Biological Station, founded by Pittier himself and which functions in the park, approximately 75 species live in the summer forest. For example, the Chachalaca, the Pale-vented Pigeon, the Orange-winged Parrot, the Squirrel Cuckoo, the Common Potoo, the Rufous-tailed Jacamar, manakins, tinamous and the Lance-tailed Manakin, etc. Another 200 live in the cloud forest, among them the Highland Tinamou, the Helmeted Curassow, the Band-tailed Guan, the Buff-fronted Foliage-Gleaner, the Black-and-white Owl, the Black-faced Anttrhush, the White Hawk, etc. Another 100 live in the humid forest, among them, the Gray Tinamou, the Guan, the Lilac-tailed Parrotlet, the Black-and-white Owl, the Black-faced Anttrhush, the Bellbird, the Wire-tailed Manakin, the Green Jay, the Cacique, etc. Another 68 live in the subtemperate forest, among them, the Band-tailed Pigeon, the Andean Nightjar, jacamar, greenlet, etc. Among mammals there are the tapir, the giant river otter, the puma, the margay, the paca, the Kinkajou, the raccoon, the giant anteater, the porcupine, the brocket deer, etc. And also, beware, reptiles like the fer-de-lance, "Tigra Mariposa" (Bothrops venezuelensis), the coral snake, the rattlesnake, garter snakes, etc.

* Recomendations

Due to its easy access by road, the park is vulnerable by the roadside. Take the necessary precautions, do not go into the forest without a guide, respect the marked areas and do not remove plant or animal species. A special permit from INPARQUES is required to spend the night and conduct research in the park.

* Facilities

There are lodging facilities for researchers at the Rancho Grande Biological Station. The entrance to the station is 20 km. away from Maracay, by the western road. On the eastern slope there are two recreational areas with picnic and swimming facilities. One of them, Guamitas, is located on the shores of the Limón river; the other one, Las Cocuizas, is 6 km. from Maracay, on the road that leads to Choroní. In Choroní and Puerto Colombia there are several inns in a unique and beautiful colonial environment, facing a beach with transparent and calm waters and the memories of old coffee and cocoa plantations. From there, there are boat trips to the village of Chuao, famous for its cocoa. Following the road towards the bay of Cata, comfortable lodging can also be found in Cata, Ocumare de la Costa, Turiamo.

* Climate

Temperatures range from 12° C to 24° C. Rainy season from May to November, dry season from December to April.

* Surface

107.800 ha.

* Information

INPARQUES
Tlf. (043) 41.39.33. Fax 41.99.09 * (02) 285.50.56 *43.60*48.59. Fax 285.30.70.


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