By Alejandro Prieto
Rivera, Uruguay, Jul 15 (EFE).- Lunarejo Valley, one of Uruguay’s natural wonders, offers both breathtaking landscapes and a wealth of biodiversity that leaves visitors with a deeper understanding of the environment.
Located in the northwestern province of Rivera, near the border with Brazil, Valle del Lunarejo Regional Natural Park is one of 17 protected areas in South America’s second-smallest country.
“There is a great expanse of basaltic rock and we are over what is the Guarani Aquifer, one of the world’s largest subterranean reserves of potable water,” tour guide Cesar Viera tells EFE.
He says that one of the park’s functions is to serve as a biological corridor for fauna from neighboring Brazil, including species that are in danger of extinction, such as the coati (a raccoon relative), coendu (Brazilian porcupine), tamandua (anteater), guazubira (a kind of deer), and cascavel (rattlesnake).
Lunarejo is also home to “more than 150 bird species” and to a dazzling variety of fauna, Viera adds.
Besides bushes that produce edible flowers, one encounters medicinal plants such as carqueja baccharis, a remedy for stomach ailments; and baccharis articulata, a vasodilator known as “rural Viagra.”
Visitors can join 5 km (3 mi) nature walks or embark on journeys of up to five days.
“Our idea is that in every tourist who comes we can plant a seedling of consciousness, above all about the issue of water, but generally about care for the environment, not to litter, and when at home to choose organic (products) and avoid polluting,” Viera explains.
The park likewise opens a window on the heritage of Uruguay’s indigenous peoples.
Overlooking the Laureles gully is the Waterfall of the Indian, so named for the presence on the rock face of what looks like a man’s face.
“On one side the geologists confirm that it is a natural formation,” Viera says. “And on the other the historians recount that this zone could have been inhabited by Guenoas and Minuans, tribes who could have carved that rock.”