Looking back at our travels through Argentina, it is a amazing what a vast country it is, and how different it can look. Before driving through large parts of the country, I really didn’t understand how big it is. To add some scale here: Argentina is the size of India. To be noted is that while India has 1.2 Billion people, Argentina has 41 million, half of whom live in and around Buenos Aires. So, not just a large country, in most parts a very empty country.
We’ve been in NW Argentina since the 27th of April when we left Mendoza. This part of the country is very different from the pampas like nature south of Mendzoa, and the big country of Patagonia. NW Argentina is similar to Colorado / Utah / Arizona: dry, some spectacular rock formations, and cactus.
Driving North from Mendoza, we visited three National Parks: Ischigualasto, Talampaya, and Los Cardones. (Actually Ischigualasto is only a provincial park, but it was pretty enough to be a NP).
Ischigualasto is known for its rock formations, its cool round rocks, and its dinosaur fossils. Unfortunately the only way to see the park is in a caravan of cars – a roughly three hour tour. We both wished we could have driven by ourselves as we are not used to crowds, and having to adhere to someone else’s schedule is constraining.
Talampaya NP lies right across the road from Ischigualasto, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The word Talampaya means “dry river with trees” in Quechua, the native indian language. It is beautiful. It is also quite popular and was well attended on the day we were there. And attended by locals.
The last National Park is Los Cardones, the Candelabras, so name for its cacti. For us it was “just” a park we drove through on our way from Cachi to Salta, but it provided some pretty views.
The gorgeous views are not limited to within the National Parks, just driving down the road can be stunning: