You might have heard that Mendoza Province is a place of natural wonders, and one of its best wonders is the Villavicencio Natural Reserve. As the name suggests, it is a place of natural conservation and care. If you visit this natural reserve, you will encounter raw nature and landscapes you will never forget. Plus, you can see a lot of indigenous animals in their natural habitat. In this story, I will take you on an eye-pleasing trip to the best of the Villavicencio Natural Reserve!
First, some general information about the Villavicencio Natural Reserve. The place is a protected natural hotspot in the Heras department in the Mendoza Province. It is located 50 km away from Mendoza city, the starting point for our adventures in the province.
One of the main objectives of the natural reserve is to protect the natural ecosystems and the different species of native flora and fauna. This means it is the perfect place to see native animals such as pumas, condors and many more. When it comes to biodiversity, this place is divided into Monte, Cardonal and Puna. Monte is found between 7000 to 1200 meters above sea level. It has distinct flora such as resinous bushes, which are evergreen, and among the fauna, the highlights are the foxes. The Cardonal is at an altitude between 1200 to 2700 meters above sea level, the highlights are the giant cactuses and the puma. Finally, Puna is found between 2700 to 3300 meters above sea level. It is hard to find flora at this altitude, but nature never ceases to marvel, so here you can find yellow flowers named "Artemisia Mendozana".
The hotel was built in 1940 near the Villavicencio thermal springs. The place is located in the Andes Mountain Range, nearly 1750 meters above sea level. At one point, it was a source of clean mineral water, which was used as medicine and sold in some pharmacies. The hotel was closed due to economic instability in 1979, and the provincial government of Mendoza continued to maintain the property. Nowadays, you can visit the place and tour it when in the Natural Reserve Villavicencio. Inside, you can visit the gardens, some viewpoints and even a chapel.
In English, its name roughly translates to the "Snails of Villavicencio". This road is a perfect way of seeing the reserve. From this road, you can see nearly all of the places in the story! You can travel through the Caracoles Road by yourself in a rented car or in the Andes truck, a 4x4 experience which I highly recommend. The road's name is weird, but you will understand once you see its shape. Fun fact: As the tour goes on, you will be able to see two white walls, which are a place of historical relevance, as locals say it. In that same spot, General San Martín split the men of the Ejercito Liberador to make a surprise move towards the enemy. The story says he left about 700 soldiers in Las Heras, and they were supposed to meet him in Chile after crossing the Andes Mountain Range. Legend has it that General San Martin crossed to Chile with the rest of the men through San Juan, a surprising move that the enemy could not predict. Also, this trail is used to connect the region with Valparaíso, Chile.
Near the end of the natural reserve, you will find the Cruz de Paramillos (Paramillos Cross) nearly 3000 meters above sea level. It is a testimony of the Jesuit labor in Argentina (it was a silver mine exploited by them). From this point, you can see Aconcagua, the highest mountain in America. What is this place? Well, it is a small chapel constructed by the Jesuits, with a cross in front, which names the place.
A fun activity to make while visiting the natural reserve is to observe a wide range of flora and fauna. One of the most unique and varied species to see in the place are birds. The bird-watching experience can be made by booking a full day or even spend a night to capture through the lens the beautiful birds you can see there.
Nature at its finest is what you can find in the Natural Reserve Villavicencio. As you can see, the tourism in the Mendoza region is endless. On your next trip to Argentina, do not miss visiting Mendoza. An eye-pleasing trip to Villavicencio Natural Reserve is an experience you will never forget.
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