Valle FĂ©rtil: Parque Provincial Ischigualasto [Ischigualasto Provincial Park]

This will be a mini-post, just a quick look at Ischigualasto and its museum.

Ischigualasto Park, also known as “The Valley of the Moon,” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a hot, dry, wind-blasted rockscape that’s an absolute treasure field of paleontologic significance of the late Triassic. I have been dying to go for years.

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100% on the strength of having seen a photo of this formation, the “Bocce Court.” There are not nearly as many of the round rocks as there used to be, because people stole them. Now you have to go on a guided tour to see the park. People are assholes.

Frankly, having to be on a guided tour isn’t that bad an idea, as if you were to get lost in the park you would absolutely die. The name of the park, according to the ranger leading the tour, is from a Native word meaning “tierra sin vida”–the deadland.

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I mean, pretty accurate.

There are several famous rock formations to see on the tour, including this one:

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The Mushroom, with the barrancas rojas (red cliffs) in the background.

Photographs really don’t do the place justice.

There is a small museum onsite!

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Non-dinosaur prehistoric megafauna were the absolute weirdest.
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It’s not completely devoid of animal life today. There are guanacos, choiques (Darwin’s rhea), foxes, condors, and others, including the biggest grasshopper things I’ve ever seen.

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This mother and her babies got what I hope was an unfortunate recreation, shown below.
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…Yikes.

The tour of the park takes about three to four hours with a break at a small building with a dig display and snack bar halfway; you ride in your own car (you can hire a local car if you don’t have one in a nearby town). The ranger picks a car from the line of tourists that has room for him and rides in it, so if you have a free seat, don’t be surprised if the ranger hops in. Check the website for hours, available tours (there’s a night one during full moons), and rates. The park does occasionally have to close on account of the Zonda wind, but I don’t think that’s very common. For the love of all that is holy, wear sunblock.