Desert Adventures

Trip Start Sep 30, 2011
Trip End Dec 13, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostel Campo Base- Valle de la Luna
Posada Hotel- Valle de la Luna
Triasico Hostel- San Juan
What I did
Ischigualasto National Park

Flag of Argentina  , San Juan,
Saturday, October 15, 2011

    Our next adventures originated in a bookstore in Buenos Aires. As we were flipping through an Argentina picture book Jessie spotted a spectacular rock formation. It looked like a combination of the southern Utah and the grand canyon. Jessie was hooked, she made it her goal to make it to Talampaya National Park in northwestern Argentina. Shoot, if I was going to drag her to Patagonia she sure as heck was going to force me to come with her on this goose chase.  
    Despite a few false leads, we found out that the park was just north of a town called San Juan.  From there we didn't have a clue how to get to the park.  We arrived in San Juan late the night after our wine tour in Mendoza.  I had booked a hostel with marginal ratings but at least it wasn't the place next door known to have bed bugs.  The rooms were a little small and the bread was a little stale but turns out Triasico Hostel wasn't that bad.  We still couldn't find much information on Talampya but with some pointing and broken Spanish we made it on a bus heading to the tiny town of San Agustin de Valle Fertil.      
        Finally we were off the beaten path.  We were the only foreigner on a bus full of locals.  Despite the dry desert landscape people were scratching away at the earth.  Every few minutes the bus stopped to drop off or pick up country folk.  It was a strange clash of traditional culture and modern fashion.  Girls with skinny jeans and stunner shades were picked up by mules haling two wheeled carts.  Families got on the bus heading for the big city leaving behind a collection of three sided adobe huts with chickens running in the dirt yard.  It was fantastic.  My only complaint was that the bus never stopped long enough to get any good photos.  
        We arrived in Valle Fertil to find that the hostels were a little on the shady side and the tours to the national parks were extremely expensive.  We spent the first night at Campo Base, and despite the friendly fellow at the front desk, we decided to move because of the owner who was a bit creepy and very pushy.  We splurged and moved to Posada Hotel where we had access to a lovely pool and our own room with a hot shower and TV!  
    We booked a tour to visit both Ischigualasto National Park and Talampaya National Park in one day.  As promised our tour van arrived early in the morning and we set off to visit Ischigualasto.  Although we saw some cool desert country, Ischigualasto is one of those places where the three pictures on the park billboard were pretty much the only cool places in the park.  Although it was still beautiful, it wasn't really worth the money.  We were excited though to drive the 70 km to Talampaya and see some real canyon lands.  
    Predictably, our tour bus broke down in the parking lot of Ischigualasto and we spent the next three hours trying to push start the van.  Wahwah by the time the van started up it was too late to go to Talampaya.  We were offered a tour for the next morning, but we had a bus to meet.  Sorry Jessie.  All that research and money and you didn't get to see your park :(   
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