Flora and Fauna
Torres del Paine National Park is habitat to a wide variety of ecosystems, making it a prized asset within Chile’s protected natural wildlife areas. The park’s biodiversity of flora and fauna is due to four types of ecological communities:
- Patagonian steppe
- Pre-Andean shrubland
- Magellanic deciduous forest
- Andean desert
These communities are home to over 120 bird species, 25 mammals, and 270 of flora. Among the different types of animals which live in this Biosphere Reserve, 5 species standout amongst the others.
This list includes the puma, condor, huemul (deer), guanaco (llama) and ñandú (Rhea). The elusive puma cousin of the Cougar is usually hidden as it watches over its vast territory.This lonesome creature round the nights, hunting and keeping surveillance of its territory.
The condor is a symbol, featured on the coat of arms. It lives in the highest Andean peaks, can fly over 7 thousand meters high and glide for hours without movement. This daytime scavenger is amongst the biggest birds on the planet.
The easiest animal to see in the park is the ancestral guanaco (lama guanicoe). This South American cameloid lives here the whole year and it is generally found in great numbers roaming the plains in different groups.
The ñandú, also known as the rhea, is a member of the ostrich family. It is 1.5 meters tall and can reach 35 kilometers per hour. It can often be seen pasting among the sheep and guanaco herds.
In the National Park Torres del Paine you can find different sceneries, such as glaciers, mountain, forests and beautiful waterfalls. All ecological studies say that you can see here over 274 different plant species.
In the plateaus and plains of the Matorral Preandino, there are pre-Andean scrublands, adapted to save water and bear the battering wind.
Among the plants that are seen here are those small, with hard leaves, as Notro or Ciruelillo (Embothrium coccineum), Chilco (Fuchsia magellanica), Seven shirts (Escallonia rubra) and Porcelain Orchid (Chloraea magellanica). Addicionaly there are some with thorns, as muddy Mata (Mullinum spinosum), Black Mata (Junellia tridens) and Calafate (Berberis buxifolia).
In Magallánico Deciduo Forest, local conditions of rainfall – above 600 mm. per year, which cover the hillsides and some valleys, create the appearance an area of woodland, where you can observe the presence of Magellan Lenga or Roble (Nothofagus pumilio), Coigüe (Nothofagus betuloides) and in the minor proportion the Ñirre (Nothofagus antarctica).
In the Patagonian steppe, located on the eastern side of the Park you can see that the vegetation exists in the form of isolated clumps of grass (Coirón or Festuca gracillima). In this area is not possible to see real trees because of the poor humidity and dry wind.
Finally, in the high or Andean desert, adverse weather conditions with strong winds sudden temperature changes and high levels of UV radiation and lead to a treeless vegetation or high shrubs. Mountain species grow in a dispersed form, they are located on rocks or fissures.
For over 600 meters above sea level, grow species like the Strowberry of devil (Gunnera magellanica), Llareta (Azorella monantha) and Ñirre (Nothofagus antarctica) in the form of stunted bushes.