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Valdivia museums: http://www.museosaustral.cl/

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Puyehue National Park

Webpage: http://www.parquepuyehue.cl/

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Puyehue National Park is located in the Andes mountains of the Los Ríos and Los Lagos regions of Chile. The park is 75 km east of Osorno, en route to Argentina. The park’s protected area encompasses 1070 km2 and includes recreational areas such as a ski resort and hot springs. Hiking activities in the park start from the Aguas Calientes sector, which is the main administrative zone of the environmental authority (CONAF).

 The park is dominated by a chain of volcanos known as the Cordón Caulle-Antillanca group; this chain includes several volcanos close to each other, including the Puyehue volcano. The park is divided into three main areas: Aguas Calientes, Anticura, and Antillanca. Aguas Calientes features natural thermal baths and hiking trails. Anticura features a variety of attractions including: the Puyehue volcano, the El Puma sightseeing point, the Cordón Caulle and associated hot springs, a strawberry field called the Pampa de Frutilla, a waterfall of an inlet of the Golgol river called the Salto de la Princesa, and an 800-year-old forest of Nothofagus trees. The Antillanca area features the Raihuén crater, Mirador hill, the Las Gaviotas river, as well as Rupanco Lake, and skiing facilities.

The climate in Puyehue is classified as rainy temperate. The annual precipitation (rain and snow) sums 7000 mm, with snow cover from June to November. The annual mean temperature is 4.5 °C.

The Puyehue volcano is 2240 m.a.s.l. During the earthquake in 1960 (the strongest earthquake ever recorded), the volcano top collapsed, turning a large chunk of dense, humid evergreen forest into a stark landscape of sand dunes and lava rivers. The last eruption occurred in 2011. The volcanic soils of the park are classified as Mesic, Umbric Vitrandept. The material consists of andesitic basaltic tuff, scoria and sand of different particle sizes.

The native temperate rainforests of southern Chile have extraordinary genetic, phytogeographic, and ecological significance. The dominant vegetation type in the park is old-growth evergreen forest. This exuberant forest is made of various layers and houses a rich composition of endemic species. At low altitudes, the forest contain “coigüe” (Nothofagus dombeyi) and “ulmo” (Eucryphia cordifolia), including some N. dombeyi specimens that reach up to 40 m in height, accompanied of “olivillo” (Aextoxicon punctatum) and “tineo” (Weinmannia trichosperma). The underbrush has abundant bushes and bamboos (Chusquea spp.), ferns, mosses and lichens. At higher altitudes, “coigüe” (Nothofagus dombeyi) and “tepa” (Laureliopsis philipiana) can be found along with the conifer tree “mañío” (Saxegothaea conspicua), which usually is the dominant species. Near the treeline (1200 m.a.s.l.) there are pure forests of “coigües de Magallanes” (Nothofagus betuloides) with a dense underbrush composed of Chusquea quila and “lenga” (Nothofagus pumilio). Another interesting and highly specific vegetation type includes the so called “mallines”, which are bushes areas covered with the thick moss Sphangnum sp., bush layers, “ñirre” (Nothofagus antarctica), and “ciprés de las Guaitecas” (Pilgerodendron uviferum).

Among mammals in Puyehue National Park are the puma (Puma concolor), the gray fox (Pseudalopex griseus), the “quique” (Galictis cuja) or ferret, the “Coipo” (Myocastor coypus), the “güiña” (Felis guigna) or wild cat, and the “chingue” (Conepatus chinga) or skunk. Birds often observed in the park include the torrent duck (Merganetta armata), the Magellanic woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus), the Chilean pigeon (Patagioenas araucana), the hued-hued (Pteroptochos tarnii) and the condor (Vultur gryphus).

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