We took a short bus ride from Mendoza (around 2 hours) and headed north to San Juan. We had booked a car through Alamo ahead of time and our confirmation email had the address and directions of where we were to pick up the car. We took a taxi to the address provided and there was no Alamo office anywhere to be found! After walking around a bit, I went inside a hotel and asked them to call the rental car place. Apparently the new office was around 7 kilometers away and they moved over 3 years ago. Fix your freaking address for your customers Alamo!!! Anyways the guy in the office felt pretty bad and he had been asking the central reservation to fix this numereous times to no avail. We finally got all the paperwork done and we were on our way. The drive out to the nearest town to Talampaya (Villa Union) took us around 4 hours and the scenery was really nice but the highway was completely deserted which felt a bit strange. We had no problems finding a hotel for the night and it was a really cute place.
The next morning we were up early and made the short drive to Talampaya National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At this particular park you have to use their guide and vehicle service in order to see the park. There were a few different packages to choose from and we picked the longer one. The scenery was really pretty.
We saw a Suri family.
A Mara which was similar to a Jackrabbit.
There’s amazing petroglyphs from the 3rd to 9th centuries in this park as well.
The National Park staff even served us wine and snacks! How awesome is that?
After our visit to Talampaya and on our way to the town of San Augustin De Valle Fertil, we thought we would drive into Ischigualasto Provincial Park, better known as Valle De La Luna. We wanted to check the park hours as we had planned on visiting the next day. As it turned out, as soon as we pulled in to the parking lot, the park official asked if we wanted to join the next tour which was leaving right away. In this park, you do a self drive following a park official who leads you to all the stops and explains everything at each stop (spanish only). The scenery at this park was so different than Talampaya and we could definitely see why it’s referred to as Moon Valley. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The clouds coming over the mountains looked ominous and it was quite windy but no rain thankfully. We had read they close the parks if they get too much rain.
These round rocks were puzzling, they have no idea why they are only found in this particular spot.
At this park we saw many Guanacos, they are cute! They followed us a for a while.
We also saw a fox.
It was a very long day visiting these two parks but we saved a lot of driving by visiting them both the same day, they are definitely worth the time and effort to visit. We were starving when we finally got to San Augustin De Valle Fertil (what a handle) but restaurants in Argentina don’t open until 8 or 9 in the evening (I still haven’t got used to that) but this little hotel had the best minibar I have ever seen…all kinds of drinks, wine, olives, cheese, and crackers!
On our way back to San Juan we spotted this sign…Amelia Earhart? Was she from here?
We drove around a bit trying to find the monument but finally had to ask a local. He hopped on his motorbike and motioned us to follow him. He got us on the right road and then we drove literally to the middle of nowhere on a very narrow backcountry road only to find a run down, falling apart memorial. Why this monument was out in nowhere land is beyond us and it wasn’t really worth the stop…but we had a laugh over it all. We have googled everything under the sun pertaing to her and still don’t know why there’s a monument here.
We arrived back to San Juan too early to drop the car off so we parked and walked around a bit. San Juan was actually quite nice!
When we got back to the car we had a parking ticket on the window but it didn’t have an amount on it. Gordon asked a passerby about it but they said we needed to go to the municipality office to find out how much the ticket is but we didn’t have time for that. When we dropped the car off at Alamo, the nice guy there took our ticket and told us he would take care of it and contact us with the amount. We never heard from him, so our best guess is that it was only a warning or so small that he just paid it. He gave us a ride to the bus station so we could catch our night bus to Salta, I think he still felt bad about the wrong address when we first arrived!
Where we stayed in Villa Union: Hotel Canon De Talampaya 👍
Where we stayed in San Augustin De Valle Fertil: Hotel Rustico 👍
Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel