Henri Pittier National Park in Venezuela

The history of Henri Pittier National Park

Henri Pittier National Park is a protected natural space located in the state of Aragua, in the northwestern coast of Venezuela. According to expert geologists, the vat majority of rocks and mountains that today are part of this park were formed 80 million years ago. The park itself was established as a protected natural area in February 1937, when former president Eleazar Lopez inaugurated the park with the name of Rancho Grande and when Henri Pittier became Venezuela's first national park. The park's name was changed to Henri Pittier in 1953, in honour of the Swiss naturalist who devoted his life to studying Venezuela's biodiversity during the early 20th century. In 1974, the park underwent expansion when president Carlos Andres Perez decreed that a further 44,000 acres be added to the park's territory. Today, Henri Pittier National Park is managed by Inparques, a governmental body that belongs to the Ministry of Environment.

The weather in Henri Pittier National Park

The weather in Henri Pittier National Park is varied and ranges from tropical climate in the coastal areas and the lowlands to temperate in the mountains, the highest of which rise up to 7,800 feet above sea level. In terms of temperatures, tourists who visit the park can expect to experience averages of 28°C in coastal areas, and significant drops in temperature in the mountains, where averages of 12°C or less are not uncommon. There are two distinct seasons in the park: the rainy season, which lasts between April and November, and the dry season, which runs between December and March. The driest months are January to March, while the wettest (and coolest) are June to September.

Nature and animals in Henri Pittier National Park

While the fauna and flora in other parts of Venezuela was severely affected by the most recent glacial period, the unique micro-climate of the Henri Pittier National Park was conducive to the survival of many plant and animal species in the area. Nowadays, the various ecosystems in the park are home to a high number of plant species. In the park's lowland areas visitors will be able to spot several varieties of palm trees, orchids, and majagua flowers. The park is also home to lush cloud forests where spiny palms, ferns, and mushrooms abound. In total, scientists have discovered more than 150 tree species in the park. Henri Pittier is also home to hundreds of animal species, including tapirs, spider and howler monkeys, peregrine falcons, pumas, jaguars, and dozens of endangered bird species.

Interesting facts about the Henri Pitter National Park

There are thirteen rivers and dozens of tributaries in the park. This makes of Henri Pittier an important water source for surrounding cities, such as Maracay, Choroni, and Valencia. The park is also known for its numerous cocoa farms, the most famous of which are located around the village of Chuao. Scientists and researchers have identified up to 1 million insect species in the park, 580 bird species, nearly 100 reptile species, and 140 mammal species, which make up 43 per cent of the country's fauna and 6 per cent of the world's total number of animal species. In addition, there are 25 endemic animal species that cannot be found anywhere else in the planet.

Tours in Henri Pittier National Park

Tours around the park can be booked in the town of Choroni. Some of the most popular excursions include visits to old sugar cane and coffee plantations, guided birdwatching trips and multi-day safaris, boat trips around La Cienaga lagoon, swimming with dolphins, and fishing trips with local fishermen. Henri Pittier National Park is also a great place to take part in adventure watersports, like windsurfing, bodyguarding, snorkelling, diving, and kayaking. Several trekking routes criss cross this park. One of the most popular hikes is the “Ruta del Cacao” trek, a two-day trail that takes visitors through cloud forests, valleys, and mountain ranges before arriving to Chuao, where several cocoa farms offer guided tours through their plantations.