This next set of photos were taken over four days where we covered some amazing country, traveling north and then east, taking in a couple of parks: Parque National Ischigualasto and Parque Provincial El Chiflon.
As you have seen through photos on the blog over the past 3 months, Argentinian parks are wonderful places with sometimes overwhelming sights. Some are extremely well serviced, some not so. We did a walking tour, with guide, through El Chiflon and a driving tour in a small convoy, through Ischigualasto.
Generally speaking, timing can be an interesting exercise to deal with in Argentina. Starting and opening times for tours and activities are fairly elastic and it pays to do as the locals do and stay relaxed at all times! We tend to hope for the best and plan something else just in case. As an example, we drove into Parque Ischigualasto late in the afternoon intending to camp there.
‘Sorry, no camping tonight as there is a big bike race coming through here tomorrow morning and we are preparing for it. You can camp tomorrow night, we will be open at 2.00pm tomorrow afternoon. Come then.’
Ok, so we drove 70 km back to a small town to camp that night. (Remaining curious about the bike race). The next afternoon, after the bike race had finished – in the town where we stayed – we headed out to Ischigualasto, where we found the place deserted. No problems, we drove around a few gates, down a track and set up camp. We found some brand new bathrooms open and used them. The police arrived at some stage, waved to us and left – no problem. The next morning, staff were back on deck and so were we – ready for the advertised 8.00am tour.
‘Sorry, no tour, some tracks are washed out, come back at 11.00, it might be on then.’
Tom and I happened to wander over at 10.00am to see if anything had changed. ‘Yes tour is leaving in 5 minutes.’
We jumped in the cars and we were off for a great tour through the park. Fairly typical Argentina, you gotta love it!
Just a final note about the bike race we mentioned.
We had stumbled into the middle of the Venta a San Juan. The Argentinian ‘Tour de France”. Teams from many South & Central American countries as well as UAE and other countries raced from San Jachal to the town we’d chosen to camp in, San Augustin del Valle Fertil. The roads were swept, kerbs were painted and entire road routes closed for the duration. As with the Tour Down Under in Australia, the shade structures were up for each team in the plaza well before the race teams arrived in town, giving the beautiful leafy plaza an eerie sense of an empty market place early in the day. We stayed to see the final stage waiting patiently in the searing heat until 3.30pm. The UAE team won. The quiet plaza turned into chaos as crowds vied for photos and autographs with their favourite teams and team cars attempted to move through the crowds. We left!