Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area (Área Natural Única Los Estoraques)


Location: Norte de Santander Department Map

Area: 562 km2 (217 sq mi)


Description of Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area is a protected area with natural geologic formations in the Cordillera Oriental mountain range in the Norte de Santander Department of Colombia. It covers a total area of 562 km2 (217 sq mi).


The Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area takes its name from a plant species called "Istoraque" (Styrax guianensis), which is now non-existent in the area due to its indiscriminate use for medicine and soaps.

In Los Estoraques desert characteristics are observed product of an accelerated erosion and a unique landscape beauty, for its millenary formations. Wind and water have formed hundreds of geological forms, among which columns, caves and countless pedestals stand out. To these forms, popular wisdom has bequeathed several names among which stand out: The cave of skeletons, the chalice, the ship, the lost city, the path of the virgin, among others.

Near the park, archaeological remains have been found such as urns, mummies, caves with bones and petroglyphs, however they have not been attributed to any particular culture.

Due to agricultural and hunting activities, many plants and animals have been decimated to the point that some species are no longer found in the area surrounding the park.

Los Estoraques is between 8 ° 13 'and 8 ° 15' North and between 73 ° 14 'and 73 ° 16' West, fully included within the department of Norte de Santander, under the jurisdiction of the municipality of La Playa.

Its limits are, in the north the Piritama and La Terneria streams, to the east the Playón river and the Cenicero road, to the south the Alcantarilla ravine and the La Honda and Las Tapias roads, and finally to the west the Caldo Huevo, La Honda streams and Swamp

The park's climate is warm temperate, predominantly dry. This, added to the lack of rain most of the year and at an average temperature of 22 °, makes the vegetation semi-desert type. However, being within the Eastern Cordillera there are also fogs that bring moisture to the site and favor agriculture.

The area corresponds to a part of the Ocaña batolith, with quite weathered rocks; It also includes igneous rocks of granite and other types. There are also metamorphite rocks of Paleozoic origin.

It should be noted that there is almost no presence of lake sediments in the area. The shape of the rocks is due to high weathering and erosion caused by rain. Also the faults and tectonic movements have helped to form the rock columns that we see today in Los Estoraques.

The area's soils are poor or moderately evolved, which allows sparse vegetation.

The annual rainfall is about 870 mm, with a dry season from January to March. Evotranspiration (which consists of the evaporation of soil water added to the transpiration of plants) is twice that of precipitation, which causes a water deficit for plants and causes that most of the streams have no flow at times dry

The main basin is that of the Catatumbo River, and Los Estoraques is watered by the La Media, La Vaca, Blanco Volcano, Pantanillo, Caldo Huevo and Del Medio streams. Of all of them, the Pantanillo and Del Medio streams have their birth in the park.