Central and Northern Argentina
During the past weeks, I travelled through Central and Northern Argentina. Avoiding to stay to long in the big cities I passed through a stunning landscape. The regions of Mendoza, San Juan, Cordoba and La Rioja offer marvellous National Parks, outstanding paragliding sites and great terrain for off road driving. Below pictures show:
Entering Argentina via the Paso de Los Liberatores (Paso Cristo Redentor) a few kilometres behind the border starts the National Park Aconcagua (6,962m). Some graphic shows how the Cordelieres de Los Andes built up as a result of the South-American plate colliding with the Nazca Plate.
Mendoza is not only the wine capital of Argentina, it also offers some great flights from Cerro Arco.
The city of Merlot is located at the foot of a 1,000 m drop off. The Mirador de los Condores (2,200m) offers breath-taking sunsets and a great flying site.
A gravel road leading from Merlo to Santa Rosa over the Sierra de Comechingones provides for 60 km off-road driving through a remote and unpopulated highland.
Alta Gracia (near Cordoba) is the town where Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara spent his youth. The local government established a museum Casa del Che honouring its famous citizen.
A gravel road leads from La Cumbre (100 km north of Cordoba) to San Marcos Sierra where during the 1980s in the absence of police presence a hippy community took refuge. San Marcos still resembles some of the flower power feeling and hosts a hippy-museum.
The Ischigualasto National Park (which in Quechua means bad land; it also is called Valle de la Luna / Valley of the Moon) can be visited by car in a three-hour drive. The sand and rock formation contains Late Triassic deposits (230 -226 million years before the present), with some of the oldest known dinosaur remains, which are the world's first with regards to quality, number and importance (Wikipedia).
The nearby Talambya National Park (which in Quechua means dry river bed of the Tala tree) contains a 6 km long and 143 m high gorge with layers originating 250 million years back.
Famatina, a small town near La Rioja, has been founded by Spanish conquerors in late 16th century. In 2017 the town hosted the Argentinian paragliding championship. Due to strong wind at the take off and the landing site flying was quite challenging.
From Famatina a 50 km gravel road leads to the Mina Mexicana, a gold, silver, copper, lead and iron deposit at 4,600 m where already the Incas were mining. At the beginning of the 20th century, a technical master-piece at its time, a 35-km cable car lift (which overcame a difference of 3,510 m of altitude) has been built from Chilecito to the mine which transported 12.000 tons of minerals per month. Mining has been ceased in the 1920s and attempts by a Canadian company to reactivate the mine were eventually blocked by protests of the local population who was afraid that the planned open-pit mineral mining and the use of cyanide and mercury would contaminate the scarce water resources of the valley.
Pictures show the road leading up to the mine which partly runs in the riverbed. The road mounting up to 4,892 m was a welcomed test for the car and my off-road driving skills. One of the old mining galleries is still accessible and one can enter it for several hundred meters.
The town Chilecito (Little Chile, called after the Chilean miners who moved to the area as mining experts) hosts a small museum displaying artefacts of the mining area.
Finally some photo impressions along-side the travel: A poster with the content of Art. 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; placing a bottle on the roof of your car indicates that the owner want to sell it; eco-friendly knife-sharpener in Mendoza; mechanics in a workshop in Mendoza repairing my bike carrier (a stone from the back wheel had destroyed the rear part); a grave yard in La Torre, a small wild-west style town in the La Rioja province.