At Talampaya we hoped to see the impressive canyon and formations of red sandstone. Camping was permitted in the car park and a warm shower possible, we ate at the restaurant and we arranged to join the morning tour into the park. It was not permitted to drive in one’s own vehicle, the only way is by guided tour.
The 2 ½ hr trip was by minibus, we visited the petroglyphs, strolled through the indigenous garden and then drove deeper into the canyon to see the gothical cathedral formation.
On the way we saw Maras, belonging to the rodent family.
The tour concluded with a visit to the totem, the torres and the monk.
We took a short stroll through the dinosaurus park of Talampaya displaying various models of those that inhabitated this area before their extinction.
Then we continued southerly on the RN76 and RN150 until we reached the gate at Parque Ischigualasto which is part of the neighbouring province San Juan.
Here we booked ourselves in for the 40km round trip late afternoon – it was self-drive in convoy following the guide. We stopped at all worthwhile view points and received detailed explanations. Interesting stops were the painted valley, the stone canon ball field, as well as the museo of the Ishigualasto dinosaur established by William Sill.
We carried on to the formations submarine and the iconic mushroom. Along the high red cliffs we saw more condors just before sunset.
Camping again took place in the carpark –however no opportunity to shower and the men’s toilets were closed due to renovations – no alternative provided.
Next stop was San Juan, the town did not impress due to the plastic pollution along the roads, we drove out of town to the Dique de Ullúm lake and visited almost all camping sites around it and we did not find a suitable one. Either they were filthy, being renovated, private or closed. We ended taking a cabaña at Hotel Bono, fairly expensive and sub-standard for the the cost.
Later we found out that the Hotel had closed for a while as the lake was dry and was only slowly able to recover.
We left early, crossed San Juan, the city center looked more attractive than the suburbs the day before. Continued on the RN40 to Mendoza with ever increasing vineyards in this desertlike area reminding us of the Hexriver valley in the Cape. In the city we visited Plaza España decorated with ceramic tiles as well as Plaza Independencia, where a food festival and fair took place.
Since wine tastings on the wine estates was by appointment only we did not go, but continued to Uspallata on the RP52, a beautiful mountain pass, spring flowers everywhere.
Later the day we found camping in Uspallata at Ranquil Luncay, another camping site that we shall remember due to its incredibly dirty ablutions and lack of hot water.
The next morning we aimed to cross into Chile.
On the way we stopped at the viewpoint of the Aconçagua,the highest mountain of South America(6961m), as well as at the natural bridge Puente del Inca with its sulphur-rich termas.
This blog covers 2nd to 5th November 2017