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Situated 80 kilometers away from San Agustín del Valle Fértil through Nº 151 Provincial Route and 300 kilometers away from San Juan Capital City, Valle de La Luna Provincial Park is a clay formation with a great variety of colors and shapes, slopes with many layers of minerals and sediments that let you clearly see the evolution of Earth.

Nobody would have thought that a huge lake surrounded by thick vegetation where a great variety of species grew and where the breeding of many animals flourished, would currently be a great desert with little rains, strong winds and high temperatures.

Fortunately, not everything has disappeared- an ancestor's footsteps appear step by step. Vestiges of vegetal and animal life spring from the ground letting you know and learn more about the origin of life on this planet.

Also known as Ischigualasto, meaning “Place where the Moon alights”in Quechua language, the park is a place where the world is summarized. You will have the sensation of attending the best Geography lesson you have ever done even when you do not hear a word or read any booklet or specialized book.

As you go around the area, you will observe how the combination of the erosion caused by water and wind carves different shapes day after day where man has naturally looked for a special meaning by means of comparing them to those previously known.

All through the tour, as you ride along the path, you will find formations such as “El gusano”, La Esfinge”, “El Submarino”, “El Hongo”, and the fallen “Lámpara de Aladino”.

You will learn that the constant work of erosion on the clay layers leave vertebrate fosile rests as well as flora from the Secondary Era, turning it into one of the most important paleontologic beds of the world. In fact, it has been proclaimed Natural Heritage to Humanity by UNESCO as well as Talampaya National park in La Rioja.

The well known dinosaurs, a wide variety of reptiles and also petrified trees are discovered undamaged since there has been an important element to preserve them.

The formation of “Valle de la Luna” was due to the fact that abundant rains flooded the plains making up a great amount of mud which buried animals and plants and, thus, protecting them from the rotting caused by the air of the atmosphere.

Among the typical stops of the tour , you will visit “Valle Pintado”, “Paisaje luna” and “La Cancha de Bochas”, the last being spheres perfectly polished on the same material of the ground which are settled on a very flat surface. The phenomenon of their formation is not clearly explained, it seems that different particles of sediments have come together by means of molecular attraction generating these bowls.

Useful Information:
- You can do this tour on your own vehicle.
- A guide is included to explain in detail each site of interest in the circuit.
- You must take a coat for the evening.
- You had better not visit the Park in Summer since it is rains season and the road is not passable. In addition, there are high temperatures due to the strong sun.

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On the south shore of Río Pilcomayo, in the northeast corner of Formosa Province is Parque Nacional Río Pilcomayo, one of the great pearls of Argentina’s national park system. This reserve protecting a 52,800-hectare (130,472-acre) swatch of Wet Chaco ecosystem has been a Ramsar site since 1992.

Its Q’om name is Satalik-Lateday, Mirror of Clear Waters. Three estuaries, or esteros, lace its interior: Zanjita, which drains into the Rio Pilcomayo, and Poí and Von Sastrow, which flow into Laguna Blanca.

These waterways are carpetted with camalotales (waterlily fields) and giant bullrush sedge (totora). The land is also marked with glens, savannahs mottled with carnauba wax palm (caranday), and hardwood forests.

Parque Nacional Rio Pilcomayo’s flora and fauna are adapted to this environment of flooding and prolonged dry spells. Some adaptions are bahavioral, such as bird migrations, whereas others are physical, such as the South American lungfish (pez pulmonada) which can breathe air.

In the forests reside black howler (carayá) and southern owl (mirikiná) monkeys. Five types of big cats call the reserve home, including the jaguarundi (gato moro), jaguar (yaguareté) and puma. Other mammals present include tapir (anta), grey brocket deer (guazuncho), giant anteater (oso hormiguero), and maned wolf (agaurá guazú). Serpents include the yellow anaconda (curiyú) and the false water cobra (ñacaniná).

Near estuaries and lagoons are found capybara (carpincho), long-tailed otter (lobito del río), crab-eating fox (zorro de monte) and crab-eating raccoon (aguará popé), as well as many native fishes, including palometas, kin to the piranha. (The park has instituted a don’t-feed-the-fish policy, which has ended incidences of swimmers getting unwanted nibbles.) Both species of caiman, the southern spectacled (yacaré negro) and the short-snouted caiman (yacaré ñato or overo) hang out at Laguna Blanca and other bodies of water.

The avifauna is equally impressive, with almost 300 species recorded in the park. Among them are Slaty-breasted Woodrail (Saracura), Monk Parakeet (Cotorra), South American Stilt (Tero real), and Great Egret (Garza Blanca). A trio of storks may be spotted and three types of Argentina’s resident kingfishes are present. Cormorants, toucans, woodpeckers, blackbirds, spinetails and other species are also represented.

The best time for viewing wildlife is before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m., when temperatures are more moderate. The best sector for land beasts is Estero Poí.

Parque Nacional Río Pilcomayo has two main ranger stations. The most popular sector is Laguna Blanca, named after the 700-hectare (1,730-acre) lagoon that is favorite swimming hole on blistering days. This lake, only three meters (10 ft) deep, is fed purely by the rain-fed Poí and Van Sastrow estuaries.

The Sendero a Laguna Blanca is a boardwalk cutting across marshlands to a series of docks and lookout towers (Distance: 400 m / 1,312 ft, Difficulty: easy, Duration: 15 min).

Sailboats and row boats are allowed on the lagoon. The reserve’s human neighbors rent canoes. This sector has an information center with a small display of skins and skulls of various animals found in the park, and jars of pickled snakes.

Near the guardaparque is a camping area. Here starts the Sendero Carayá Caaguy, a self-guided trail through a forest inhabited by black howler monkeys (Distance: 200 m / 656 ft, Difficulty: easy, Duration: 20 min). Ask the rangers for the pamphlet (Spanish only).

Sector Estero Poí is closer to Laguna Blanca village. The road from Ruta Nacional 86 goes to the ranger station and continues to the banks of the Río Pilcomayo. At the guardaparque is a campground.

This part of the park has two interpretive loop trails. Sendero Secretos del Monte is near the station (Distance: 600 m / 1,969 ft, Difficulty: easy, Duration: 45 min). Three kilometers (1.8 mi) north of the ranger station, down the road to the river, is Sendero de Caraguatá Caaguy, also called Karaguatá Guatahá.

This trail traverses areas of the vase plant (caraguatá), a wild cousin of the pineapple, and palm groves (Distance: 900 m / 0.5 mi, Difficulty: easy, Duration: 45 min). Six kilometers (3.6 mi) past this sendero is a bird observation post. Five kilometers (3 mi) further on is the Río Pilcomayo. To transit the river road, you need to report in to the rangers, to check on road conditions. (Recent rains may make stretches impassable.)

Camping is free in the park. Facilities include bathhouses, tables, grills and electricity. At the Laguna Blanca site, keep your items well protected from the monkeys’ reach. None of the sectors have provision shops or food services, so bring all supplies.

Water is potable, though some people may have problems drinking it. At Laguna Blanca, entry is charged on Sundays only (Argentines $1.15, foreigners $7; people under 16 or over 60 years old free). No fee is charged at Sector Estero Poí. The administrative office, Informes Administración de Parque Nacional Río Pilcomayo, is in Laguna Blanca village (Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-2 p.m.

Pueyrredón s/n and Ruta Nacional 86, Laguna Blanca, Tel: 47-0045, E-mail: The center also has an excellent, bilingual research library.

The best time to visit Parque Nacional Río Pilcomayo is during the winter months (June-September) when it is fresher, dryer and there are fewer insects. Rains begin in September. The rainy season runs from December through March. Temperatures during these months reach 47ºC (117ºF).

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The Andes mountain range shows its beauty in the Patagonian provinces. Millennial silent forests with native vegetable species are extended along the shores of glistening waters.

On top of the mountains, nature overflows with granite peaks and ice fields spreading their glacier tongues into lakes of unsurpassable beauty.

Imposing mammals and sea birds, half-way between real life and fantasy, spend certain seasons on the rough coasts of Patagonia where they complete part of their life cycle. Seals colonies play on the islets and sandbanks.

The world’s most important southern elephant seal continental colony is located in Peninsula Valdés.

Every year, southern right whales come to Nuevo and San José gulfs to breed.

Patagonian hares, “ñandúes” (South American ostrich) and “guanacos” run about the steppes, and the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world is located in Punta Tombo.

This life cycle repeated since time immemorial, unfolds itself in front of the astonished visitors’ eyes.

In the south, Tierra del Fuego and the World’s southernmost city, Ushuaia, are the gateway towards the vast and mysterious Antarctica.

The Andes range has many active volcanoes, which are distributed in four volcanic zones separated by areas of inactivity.

The Andean volcanism is a result of subduction of the Nazca Plate and Antarctic Plate underneath the South American Plate. The belt is subdivided into four main volcanic zones that are separated from each other by volcanic gaps.

The volcanoes of the belt are diverse in terms of activity style, products and morphology. While some differences can be explained by which volcanic zone a volcano belongs to, there are significant differences inside volcanic zones and even between neighboring volcanoes.

Despite being a type location for calc-alkalic and subduction volcanism, the Andean Volcanic Belt has a large range of volcano-tectonic settings, such as rift systems and extrensional zones, transpressional faults, subduction of mid-ocean ridges and seamount chains apart from a large range on crustal thicknesses and magma ascent paths, and different amount of crustal assimilations.

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Cuyo - “desert country” in the Indian language - is the region of the high peaks, the snow-covered volcanoes, and the large wilderness spreading from the Andes mountain range and foothills to the steppe.

The visit to Ischigualasto - Talampaya Natural Parks, is a true journey to the dinosaurs era. Ischigualasto, also known as “Valle de la Luna” (Moon Valley) because of the amazing diversity of forms and colours of its landscape shaped by erosion, is one of the world’s most important paleontologic sites. The Talampaya River Canyon reveals amazing multi-shaped layers in its high red walls.

Pink flamingos, Andean ducks, “vicuñas” and “guanacos” cohabit freely in parks and natural reserves, while condors fly over the area.

The region displays the full splendour of the Central Andean Range. The Aconcagua (6.959 m) is the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, and its steep slopes are renown and respected by mountain climbers from all over the world.

In the valleys of La Rioja, Mendoza and San Juan, among leaves of grapevines, farms and wineries, visitors can go along the Wine Road, an attraction of international renown.

Cuyo has some of the most popular tourist attractions in Argentina and the highest mountains in the Andes, including Aconcagua itself, the highest peak outside Asia, and the Ischigualasto Provincial Park.

The soil is arid and reddish, crossed by few rivers. Most of the rivers are fed by the thawing of snow on the peaks, and their volume of water increases considerably in spring. The Desaguadero River is the main collector, receiving waters from the Bermejo, Vinchina and Salado before reaching the Colorado River.

Viticulture is one of the main activities of the area. The wine production of the region represents almost 80% of national production, and the wines are highly considered in the world. Olives, potatoes, tomatoes and some fruits are also cultivated, and there is production of sweets and preserved foodstuffs. Quarrying and oil exploitation are other important industries.

The cities and towns in the region are characterised by colonial low houses and churches, and narrow streets, contrasting in the principal cities with the modern parts. The Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, founded in 1939, is the most important within these provinces, and has its campus in Mendoza, but has faculties as far as Río Negro.

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