South America Tourist Guide
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The Pampas

 
The Pampas is one of the largest open grasslands areas of Argentina, and has played an important role in why Argentina has become the prosperous country that it is today.
 
The Pampas vast plains extending westward across central Argentina from the Atlantic coast to the Andean foothills, it is bounded by the Gran Chaco (north) and Patagonia (south). The name comes from a Quechua Indian word meaning “flat surface.” It covers an area of approximately 295,000 square miles (760,000 square km) and is divided into two distinct zones: The dry zone in the west, and the humid zone in the east, which includes the Buenos Aires Province. The Pampas is the home of the 'Gaucho', the original South American cowboy.
 
 
 
The humid Pampas ecosystem is one of the richest grazing areas in the world. Because of its temperate climate and rich, deep soil, most of the Pampas has been cultivated and turned into croplands. Unfortunately, domestic livestock and farming have severely affected the pampas. Fertilizers and overgrazing are a serious threat to the pampas. There are only a very few pristine remnants of the legendary "ocean of grass" that was the Pampas. It is considered to be one of the most endangered habitats on earth.

Because the Pampas area of Argentina is so large, it contains many different locations and things to do. For example, the Pampas area bordered by the Atlantic Ocean has a number of different beaches and waves perfect for surfing, swimming, and snorkeling in. The drier areas of the west and south also have a lot to offer, and the humid area in the east include the capital of Argentina – the beautiful city of Buenos Aires. This bustling city is full of sites to see, and is home to the best of the nation’s pastime – tango dancing.

Many associate the Pampas with huge herds of cattle that graze on this fertile land that are tended by gauchos – Argentina’s version of cowboys. If you want to learn how the gauchos truly live, some tour operators provide itineraries where you can head out to the pastures and join them in tending the cattle. If you’d rather not help herd cattle, there’s nothing that says you can’t explore the Pampas on your own. Several ranches have horses available for rent, allowing you to ride out onto the Pampas and then have a nice picnic lunch while taking in the sights.
If you are interested in wildlife, the Pampas is home to the Greater Rhea, a relative of the African Ostrich and the Australian Emu, the Double Collard Seedeater, the great Pampas Finch, the grassland Yellow Finch, and the Long Tailed Reed Finch. In addition to birds, several interesting mammals can be found in the pampas. The Geoffroy's Cat, for example, with its gray coat and black stripped legs, is almost invisible in the mesquite and bunchgrass. The Maned Wolf has very long legs so it can see over the tall grasses. Also, one can find a llama-like Guanaco that lingers among the ponds. The Parque National Lihué Calel is a popular detour, with wildlife including some puma and many guanaco, rhea, native hares and a variety of wild chinchilla called a Vizcacha.
 

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The Pampas
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