Quebrada de los Cuervos National Park

The Quebrada de los Cuervos is the largest canyon in Uruguay, with subtropical forest at its bottom and many species of birds and flowers otherwise found mainly in Brazil.

Cut into the Cuchilla Grande range by the Arroyo Yerbal Chico, the canyon reaches a depth of 175m. Covering 4,400ha, the area has been well protected for years, with a good viewpoint and signage, and in 2008 it became a national park and the first protected landscape in the Sistema Nacional de Areas Protegidas, or National Protected Area System (SNAP).

The name means ‘Gorge of the Crows’ but refers to vultures, all three Uruguayan species of which breed on its cliffs. There are three main ecosystems: monte de quebrada (ravine forest, with trees growing to over 20m in height), matorral serrano (mountain heathland) and pradera (grassland), and 131 plant species (over 70% of the native plant species in Uruguay), with 87 trees and shrubs (including palms and cacti), 22 ferns, lianas, creepers, green and pink lichen.

The park is also home to 138 species of bird (notably saffron-cowled blackbird, straight-billed reedhaunter and chestnut and dark-throated seedeaters, with a toucan seen for the first time in 2008), about 20 amphibians, 30 reptiles and mammals such as Geoffrey’s cat, margay cat, hurón, racoon, foxes, guazuvirá (grey brocket deer) and armadillo. Horseriding is an excellent option, with Iván Muraña.

Getting there and away

The park is 45km north of Treinta y Tress. There’s no public transport so you’ll have to take a remise if you don’t have your own wheels. From the visitor centre it’s another 2km to a car park, the starting-point of a 500m wooden boardwalk to a viewpoint over the gorge; a rocky 3km sendero de interpretación (interpretive path) drops down to a beach by the river and climbs back to the viewpoint, with other resting points along the way.