From Mendoza we went to Uspallata, a small town on the way to the chilean border to spend a night in the municipal campground. Unfortunately neither the town neither the campground are worth the time but Uspallata is the only stop in the region. The landscapes are beautiful and the town serves as the starting point to a number of destinations, the main one being mount Aconcagua, the highest summit outside Asia at 6961 m (22,838′). We just wanted to charge our battery before venturing further north into the desert to parque El Leoncito in the province of San Juan. Once on the road, which is paved most of the way, we saw horses, vicuñas, and a suri cordillerano, a sort of south American emu. Before entering the park, on the opposite side of the road is “El Barreal Blanco”, a dry lake bed of about 10 km x 3 km. I took photos when we got there, then came back early the next morning.
The landscape leaving Uspallata, Mendoza.
Horse outside Uspallata, Mendoza
Suri cordillerano, a sort of south American emu
Entering El Leoncito national park
The road to the Barreal Blanco
Our truck in the Barreal Blanco
Barreal Blanco at sunrise
Barreal Blanco at sunrise
Tire track through Barreal Blanco
From there we entered the park proper, via a narrow unpaved road with is only passable in smaller vehicles. Tour buses stop where the pavement ends. From there it is 7 km to the ranger station. We stayed in the park campground two nights. We visited one of the observatories during the day then came back at night for some guided star gazing and photography. We also did the hikes, one to an unexpected waterfall, the other to cerro El Leoncito.
The view shortly after entering the park El Leoncito.
The small river that runs through park El Leoncito and provides welcomed water.
Apple trees in park El Leoncito, which used to be a small settlement and farm.
One of the observatories in park El Leoncito
The telescope is seen while the main door is opening.
The sun is setting while we are waiting for the visit of the observatory to start.
The night sky at park El Leoncito, an ideal place for star gazing.
The night sky at park El Leoncito
More photos …
The sun is rising on park El Leoncito, here looking west towards the Andes.
An interesting contrast of dry desert and snowy peaks awaits the visitor of park El Leoncito
Hiking trail in park El Leoncito
Observatory in park El Leoncito
Spring is a beautiful season to hike here in park El Leoncito. It isn’t too hot and the desert is blooming.
Desert in bloom in park El Leoncito
Cuises are small rodents of the Argentine deserts.
A young cuise is posing for me 🙂
An unexpected waterfall in this dry landscape.
Sunset on park El Leoncito
After waiting for darkness in blowing wind, I can finally take a few interesting photos.
Here in park El Leoncito the milky way is seen low to the western horizon.
Hiking up to cerro El Eoncito.
Hiking to cerro El Leoncito we pass through multi-coloured hills.
The view from the top of cerro El Leoncito.
Looking west from cerro El Leoncito.