The 3,400 km² national park in the Cordillera Blanca is one of the highest tropical mountain areas and the habitat of the largest bromeliads. It extends at altitudes from 2,500 to over 6,700 m. Deep gorges, glaciers, lakes and a unique flora and fauna give the park its breathtaking beauty.
Huascarán National Park: Facts
|Official title:||Huascarán National Park|
|Natural monument:||National park with an area of 3 400 km² and El Huascarán, with 6 768 m the highest peak in the Andes of Peru, establishment of the national park in 1975, biosphere reserve since 1977; Altitudes from 2,500 to 6,768 m, 27 snow-capped peaks over 6,000 m, 663 glaciers, 296 lakes and 41 rivers, temperatures from 3 ° C to –30 ° C; in the northern part of the national park traces of a culture that is 2000 years older than that of Chavín|
|Location:||Cordillera Blanca, east of Chimbote|
|Meaning:||one of the world’s highest tropical mountain regions and home to the largest bromeliads|
|Flora and fauna:||moist mountain rainforest and alpine tundra as well as a dwarf, partly leafless vegetation known as “puna”; Occurrence of almost 800 plant species such as the alpine bromeliad species Puya raimondii, species belonging to the genus Masdevallia and stumpy growing Polylepis; 10 species of mammals such as spectacled bear, puma, white-tailed deer, northern Andean deer, mountain cat and vicuña; among the 112 bird species Andean condor, giant coot and the giant Peruvian gnome, which belongs to the group of hummingbirds|
Pineapples and Andean camels in the White Cordillera
The White Cordillera reminds Central European visitors of the Alps, but despite the similarity in the glaciation of the mountain ranges and the typical trough valleys carved out by glaciers, these tropical high mountains differ fundamentally from one of the moderate latitudes. The glaciation that begins at a much greater altitude, namely above the 5,500 meters, is the less important aspect compared to the prevailing tropical climate. While the flora and fauna of the Alps are primarily shaped by the temperature differences of the summer-winter cycle, in the Andes it is the temperature fluctuations of the times of day that determine the growth of plants and the life opportunities for animals and people. The higher you rise, the lower the night temperature drops, and the deeper one descends, the greater the warming of the landscape in the course of the day. Between the maximum daytime temperature and the minimum nighttime temperature can easily be up to 50 degrees Celsius.
Below the ice and snow line, there is a barren landscape with lichen growth, moss cushions, clumps of hard tufted grass and bulbous plants that only bloom for a short time. Among them is the puna, a high steppe that forms the natural habitat of the Andean camels, the wild, yellow-brown vicuñas, the llamas used as domesticated pack animals and the alpacas, whose valued skins are processed into fine wool. According to areacodesexplorer, short-legged northern Andean deer, sometimes also called Peruvian fork deer, live in small packs mostly above the tree line. The same applies to white-tailed deer, whose tail looks like a waving, white flag when fleeing. Both species of deer are sought-after prey for the puma. In the lower elevations, especially on the eastern slopes, The spectacled bear eating berries and small mammals is said to have also been sighted. The mighty condor glides at great heights, with a wingspan of more than three meters. But the birds are impressive not only because of their size, but also because of their colored plumage, like the giant gnome belonging to the hummingbirds, which falls into a death-like rigidity at night. It doesn’t have to flaunt its purple throat like the garnet hummingbird, but as the largest hummingbird can be content with muted colors from matte purple to lime green to orange-brown. like the giant gnome belonging to the hummingbirds, who falls into a death-like rigidity at night. It doesn’t have to flaunt its purple throat like the garnet hummingbird, but as the largest hummingbird can be content with muted colors from matte purple to lime green to orange-brown. like the giant gnome belonging to the hummingbirds, who falls into a death-like rigidity at night. It doesn’t have to flaunt its purple throat like the garnet hummingbird, but as the largest hummingbird can be content with muted colors from matte purple to lime green to orange-brown.
As diverse as the fauna of the national park is, what makes the park special is the Puya raimondii, a pineapple plant that towers over eight meters and has an inflorescence several meters high. However, although there are thousands of these widely visible plants on the slopes, visitors to the park must consider themselves lucky if they actually find a plant in bloom, as it only blooms once every hundred years.
In the narrow trough valleys between the mountain peaks there are glacial lakes of astonishing purity and color. Mostly they are surrounded by the crippled forests of Polylepis with their reddish brown bark and silvery leaves. These impressively beautiful glacial lakes are on the one hand a drinking water reservoir for the residents of the valleys, but on the other hand a source of fear and terror. Every decade there are landslides and mudslides that roll down the valleys and cover everything on their way with mud and huge boulders. Nobody in this area has forgotten the 1972 landslide, in which an earthquake-triggered mud, ice and rock avalanche from Huascarán made the city of Yungay disappear completely under a meter-high mantle of mud.