In San Juan, a place where nature has been working for something more than 220 million years. A landscape from another planet that became Mankind’s Heritage.
Ischigualasto Provincial Natural Park is located at the Northeast of the province of San Juan, at 205 miles from its capital city and at about 50 miles from San Agustín del Valle Fertil. This little town is the departure point for all tours going to the small portion of the park that is accessible to tourists.
Popularly known as the “Moon Valley”, this fascinating odd place in the world covers about 153 thousand acres and, together with its neighbor –Talampaya, in the province of La Rioja- it was declared Mankind’s Heritage. It importance resides on the scientific value of the paleontological findings made in the area: an almost complete sequence of the Triassic Period (superior – medium and inferior) of the Mesozoic Era. To visit Ischigualasto means walking on the lands that dinosaurs inhabited 180 million years ago. The moon-aspect soil and the strange geoforms sculpted by the water, sun and wind on the rocks during million years, has turned this place into another planet’s site. Visitors are able to spy on the Earth’s evolution.
Upon entering Ischigualasto, Morado Mount offers a view of really huge walls. In order to obtain better panoramic views, visitors may need to climb to its peak. There, they would be able to watch condors and observe the particular vegetation of the area: mount species like cactus, retamas and larreas. Among them, it is quite common to see guanacos, foxes and viscachas. Towards the interior of the park, the main circuit –to be crossed exclusively on vehicles and accompanied by an authorized guide- comprises 26 miles and it takes about 3 hours. This circuit has several stations to take photographs: The Worm, Painted Valley, Bowling Lane, Submarine and the Mushroom where it is easy to discover the quiet, permanent but unwavering work of nature: stones present here mysterious and strange forms.
At full moon nights, the moonlight turns Ischigualasto even stranger and far more fascinating. Wandering about the Painted Valley, observing the capricious forms (the Submarine, the Sphinx, the Flags, the Mushroom), and stepping on these dinosaur lands in the silence of the night is a unique and unforgettable experience, not only for the sight but also for the spirit.
At the Park’s entrance, the Interpretation Center created by San Juan’s Museum of Natural Sciences presents replicas of the most important fossils found in the park. Its mission is spreading Ischigualasto’s scientific importance.
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