21-Oct-2003 -- After having spent the night at Las Varillas we continued on the provincial
road nr. 3 towards North.
Passing the small settlement of Villa Concepción del Tío we were extremely
surprised to see a marvelous cathedral with a wonderful interior.
Then we continued towards North, and finally we bent left into the
provincial road nr. 17 until the small town of La Para, which lies exactly
on 63°00' W and North of the confluence.
According to our IGM-map (Instituto Geográfico Militar) there was supposed
to be a small road, numbered 52, straight in direction South. But on our
normal road maps of 1:2,000,000 scale it was not entered. However, a small
girl, whom we asked for, confirmed its existence. We subsequently found
this dirt road without difficulty. Exactly as charted, a bridge, built in
1931, lead over an arroyo, a small river, and finally we reached the confluence, lying about 250 metres East of the road in an already harvested
maize field and a 200 metres North of a few huts and a shed under
construction for storing agricultural machinery.
All views look rather similar. We attach the view to the East.
The vegetation there are mainly thistles, some of them reaching a remarkable
This confluence lies close to a huge salt lake, the Laguna Mar Chiquita.
This lake is the end of a closed basin with no outlet. During the
1972-1987 period Mar Chiquita underwent considerable hydrological changes
resulting from a 9 m increase in water level. The resulting decrease in
salinity shifted the lake's limnology from a hypersaline stage to a
Here are a few parameters, compared between 1972 and 1987:
|Maximum E-W extension:||1972:||76 km,||1987:||140 km|
|Maximum N-S extension:||1972:||30 km,||1987:||100 km|
|Volume:||1972:||0.15 km³,||1987:||2,39 km³|
|Surface area:||1972:||100 km²,||1987:||7,000 km²|
|Maximum depth:||1972:||1 meter,||1987:||9.3 meters|
|Salinity:||1972:||275 grams/liter,||1987:||29 grams/liter|
Unfortunately, there is still little information available on the effect of
changes on the lake's ecology. A noticeable alteration was the disappearance
of the crustacean Artemia sp. as a dominant species in the zooplankton.
Furthermore, around 1983, the lake was invaded by the Argentine silverside
fish, known locally as "pejerrey" (Basilichthys bonariensis), in coincidence
with salinity concentrations under 50 g/l.
For overnight we choose the town of Miramar [link pic10marchiquita, text:
Miramar was subject to heavy inundation], recommended by
various ravel guides as a major tourist resort.
During the rampant rise of the water level of Laguna Mar Chiquita, about
half of the town has disappeared. Miramar seems to be the "Venice of
Argentina". However, we found a nice room in the Hotel
"Marchetti", directly on the
pittoresque actual shoreline.
Local people told us that the water level remained fairly steady during the
last years. Recently it even had decreased for a few centimeters.
Information about the Laguna Mar Chiquita obtained from the website "Living
Lakes" of the "Centro de Zoologia aplicada Argentina", Universidad Nacional