Argentina // Córdoba and the Central Sierras //

Parque Nacional Quebrada del Condorito

The PARQUE NACIONAL QUEBRADA DEL CONDORITO takes its name from the Quebrada de los Condoritos, a misty canyon eroded into the mountains that, in turn, gets its name from the baby condors reared in its deep ravines.

To get to the park, take the RP-34 that sweeps across the Pampa de Achala, an eerily desolate landscape, ideal for solitary treks or horse rides. For the first 15km or so, this road, which starts southwest of Villa Carlos Paz, is quite narrow, but several viewpoints have been built at the roadside. From them, you have unobscured vistas of the Icho Cruz and Malambo valleys to the northwest, the distant peak of Cerro Los Gigantes (at 2374m the highest mountain in the Sierra Grande) to the north, and the Sierra de Achala to the south. Some 20km further on, are the bleak granite moorlands of the Pampa de Achala, reaching just over 2000m above sea level. Here condors, some with wingspans exceeding 3m, can be seen circling majestically overhead.

Hikes in the park take between two hours and several days, and there are designated areas where camping (free) is permitted. You should register at the Interpretation Centre (1.5km from the park entrance) before setting out; the centre is also a good place to get useful information about the park and the latest weather conditions. There’s little shade and currently no food or drink on sale within the park boundaries, so bring a hat, sun-cream and sustenance.

The hike route is clearly marked with numbered posts, getting steadily more difficult after you pass number ten, which takes you down steep and sometimes slippery paths towards the bottom of the canyon. Many kinds of trees, shrubs and ferns can be spotted, including some endemic species such as rare white gentians, while among the plentiful fauna are various wild cats, frogs, foxes and lizards. Birdlife is prolific but the stars are the condors themselves, especially their young; if you’re lucky you might see condors and their chicks bathing in the water at the bottom of the gorge.