Virgin areas explored within the Sierra Nevada National Park
Together with INPARQUES, the Fundación Programa Andes Tropicales (PAT) carried out an exploration of the areas between the village of Los Nevados and the sector of El Portachuelo de Aricagua (in the southern part of the state of Mérida, Venezuela), a part of the Sierra Nevada National Park which is rarely visited due to its difficult accessibility. The exploration was conducted to confirm the possible presence of certain fauna and to evaluate the potential for tourism in the area,
PAT Geographer Caribay Márquez reported that the exploration began at the Mucuposada Hacienda El Carrizal and included an initial 6 hours on horseback to reach Don Pedro Lagoon. Faced with a number of risks if they continued on horseback, the investigators continued on foot for several hours, carrying their own equipment until they reached the perimeter of the lagoon. Unable to find a flat dry space to set up camp, tents were built on large rocks.
According to Márquez, “the greatest risk occurred the day after we camped at the lagoon, when in search of El Portachuelo a dense cloud of mist got us lost for nearly 4 hours. We went the wrong way and needed to wait until the cloud cleared before we understood that it was best to spend another night waiting since it would have taken hours just to get back to the route we wanted”. Márquez affirmed that reason and professionalism reigned during those difficult hours of uncertainty.
An additional achievement, of great worth to the team at INPARQUES, was the confirmation that certain wildlife is present in the area through the identification of tracks, excrement, and food wastes left by animals as they work their way through the area. Evidence was found that indicate the possible presence of emblematic Andean species (some of which are endangered) including: Tremarctos ornatos (Andean bear), Mazama bricenii (candelillo dear), Odocoileus virginianus (white tailed dear) and Sylvilagus sp (rabit).