Parque Nacional Serrania del Aguaragüe

National Park in Villamontes

The long and narrow 1080 sq km Aguaragüe National Park takes in much of the mountains of Serranía del Aguaragüe, which divide the vast Gran Chaco and the highlands of Tarija department. The park's name comes from Guaraní, meaning ‘the lair of the jaguar,’ because the range is famous for being home to this lovely spotty (and scary) cat. Foxes, tapirs, anteaters, assorted parrots, numerous plant species and 70% of the region’s potable water sources can also be found here.

Right in the center of the region known for being the hottest in Bolivia, it is best visited in the cooler winter months (May to October). In the beautiful Pilcomayo Canyon at El Chorro Grande waterfall, fish are prevented from swimming further upstream. Abundant surubí, sábalo and dorado are easily caught, making the area a favorite with anglers from all over the country. The predatory dorado is prized by game fishers because of its legendary fight; it’s particularly interesting because it has an odd hinge at the front of its jawbone that allows its mouth to open wide horizontally.

There are great views from the restaurants 7km to 10km west of Villamontes where you can sample local fish dishes.

Although it lacks visitor facilities, the Cañón del Pilcomayo is easily accessible from Villamontes. Take any Tarija-bound transportation, or taxi to the tranca (highway police post) and walk from there. Where the road forks, bear right and continue another 2km to the mouth of the gorge. Or, more conveniently, you can negotiate with a taxi driver in Villamontes. One of the tour companies in Tarija might be able to arrange a trip with sufficient notice and a minimum of three people.

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