Steppe mountain range: characteristics, climate, flora and fauna

The steppe mountain range is an ecoregion with a compendium of extreme conditions in the mountainous areas of the central Andes, mainly in Peru, under which the existence of ecosystems complete with perfectly adapted fauna and flora was possible.

The natural formations of the area constitute one of the greatest geographical riches of the planet, showing the wisdom of Mother Nature, showing the man the process of adaptation and evolution.

It is located in southern America and extends from the western side of the Andes to the border area with Chile. This mountainous area was formed mainly by volcanic activity and is constantly subject to seismic activity.

The mountain range is surrounded by dry equatorial forest to the north, Puna and Upper Andes on the east side and the Pacific desert of Peru on the west side. In summary, it can be said that everything between the tree line of the mountain range and the snow line is part of the steppe mountain range.

Peru is home to a large number of different ecosystems and climates in the same territory, making it the country with the greatest ecological diversity in the world. There is no other country with more ecosystems.

Therefore, it also has a great diversity of fauna and flora native to the region or other places. The steppe mountain range is just one of many regions with specific ecosystems in Peruvian territory.

Characteristics of the steppe mountain range and its climate

With the full name of the steppe mountain range, a set of specific natural conditions that do not exist elsewhere on the world is identified. The term cordillera, coming from a mountain range, finds it only in the Andean mountain range

The word steppe, by definition, indicates flat territories with herbaceous vegetation, that is, with the appearance of herbs and the absence of forest. The steppes are normally regions far from the sea, above 1000 meters above their level, and show visible climatic variations between the summer and winter seasons.

This one is approximately at heights between 1000 and 4000 meters above sea level.

It is commonly associated with the cold desert due to the lack of water, drought conditions most of the time, constant sunshine and extreme temperatures resulting from the few annual rains.

Rain is scarce throughout the general area, below 400 mm and can last for about eight months in winter. Precipitation can increase during the summer between the months of December and March.


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The climate moves in extremes during the different seasons and depending on the height, as well as between day and night. It is usually sunny during the day and cold at night.

The terrain shows a formation of mountains with narrow valleys, steep cliffs, rocky landscapes and few plains. The land is fertile and rich in minerals, despite extreme conditions.

Rivers play an important role, being responsible for creating the geographical view; having drawn the silhouette over the years with the passage of water. You can also see an abrupt but harmonious relief, and the unique landscape is some of the general characteristics of the steppe mountain range.

Steppe Mountain Division

The steppe mountain range is divided into four zones due to the altitude, which are the semi-desert zones, the low zone, the middle zone and the high zone; each with a characteristic climate.

The mountain range of the semi-desert steppes, with a height between 1000 and 1600 meters above sea level, has a mild climate sometimes mixed with the subtropical, that is, high temperatures, but with little rain.

The low steppe mountain range is between 1600 and 2600 meters above sea level, characterized by being a sub-humid semi-desert area with little annual precipitation.

The mountain range of medium steppes, between 2600 and 3200 meters above sea level, has a cold and dry climate in its semi-desert terrain, with low temperatures and constant sun.

Finally, the high steppe mountain range, with heights between 3200 and 4000 meters above sea level. It is characterized by an area with a very cold, boreal climate and close to the tundra climate, but dry, caused mainly by low temperatures, constant sun and low rainfall per year.


Due to extreme temperatures and particular conditions, vegetation has adapted to survive in these difficult and hostile environments. They have evolved to withstand hot temperatures during the day and cold temperatures at night.

In general, its vegetation is herbaceous, sparse and low, showing landscapes of extensive meadows adorned with mountainous terrain. You can also find concentrations of various plants with small leaves and stems.

Some plants have been conditioned to accumulate water on their leaves, body and / or roots, as is the case with cactus-like species.

The flora characteristic of the steppe mountains varies between tropical, semi-desert and moorland climates. The xerophilous vegetation can be found throughout the length of the steppe mountain range.


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Some characteristic forms of plant life are the llareta or yareta, a perennial species, native to South America, which grows more than 3000 meters above sea level. Also called tiaca or kiaca, which is a tree native to southern America.

White grass, also known as sand flower for its medicinal uses, is a flower native to South America, specifically in the Andes. The flora of the cacti in general, with an almost always thorny texture, manages to live perfectly in these conditions.


The middle mountain range of the steppes, between 2600 and 3200 meters above sea level, has fine forest vegetation, that is, trees and shrubs in concentrations not abundant and quite separated from each other. The bushes are generally no more than a meter tall.

You can find some types of trees, such as the huarango, an ancient tree of the legume family with properties to survive in the desert, the queñoa belonging to the Rosaceae family originating in the Andean area and the tola shrubs, originating in South America and known for its medicinal advantages.

Wild or primitive or wild corn may also be located in the steppe mountain range. In the middle and high areas of the Serra Esteparia, you will find bromeliad plants, native to the American continent and famous for their large deep chalice flowers, such as Achupallas.

Likewise, grassy plants, cacti like the prickly pear and the Peruvian torch, chochos and other shrubs adapted to the cold and the limited presence of water live in this ecosystem.

Wild life

Like plants, animals have developed a way to withstand adverse weather conditions.

Among them, the Andean condor, which is the largest and heaviest bird in the world. They can weigh up to 15 kg. The Andean condor, as its name says, can be found in the highest regions of the Andes. Choose to live in areas with strong drafts that help you fly with little effort due to your weight.

Also in the mountain range of the steppes are the Andean parakeet, the blue hummingbird, the reddish hummingbird, the cactus basket and the tuna puna or Andean kiula, which is a long terrestrial bird with rounded wings and a short tail.


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