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After the many dry and rocky places I visited in the preceding six weeks or so, the Calilegua National Park was very different. The Yungas (a name in this part of South America for hot tropical valleys) are humid and sub-tropical. The altitude of the national park varies from 350 to 3,600 metres (1,148 to 11,811 feet) and as a result it has a number of different zones. Using the local town of Libertador as a base, I explored two; the jungle around 400 metres altitude and the cloud forest at 1,500 metres height.
The jungle zone is, as one would expect, hot and humid. The most enjoyable way to explore it was to walk and traverse the small rivers around the bottom of the national park – Arroyo (stream) Aguas Negras, Arroyo Negrito and Rio San Lorenzo. In the mud around the river beds I sometimes encountered animal tracks.
|Aguas Negras Stream in the Jungle Zone|
|Jungle in Valley of Negrito Stream in the Jungle Zone|
|Animal Footprints Next to Negrito Stream in the Jungle Zone|
The cloud forest zone around the village of San Francisco is more bearable as it is a little cooler and less humid at an altitude of 1,500 metres (4,921 feet). The dirt road climbs up through the jungle and into the cloud forest along the steep sides of beautiful valleys, making for a memorable journey in a rickety old bus. Many of the trees are more than 30 metres (98 feet) tall, but are still able to establish strong enough root systems to cling to the sides of the valleys which are at times very steep.
|View from San Francisco|
|Cloud Forest Near San Francisco|
San Francisco is located in a spectacular setting on a prominent piece of land, with panoramas in many directions. I took a walk beneath the trees along the side of one of the local hills, with great vistas along other forested valleys. The views during the return bus journey were just as impressive during the early evening light.
|The Lush Cloud Forested Valleys Near to San Francisco|
|Journeying Through the Beautiful Landscape|
in a Rickety Old Bus