Checking out Park Ichigualasto, Valley of the Moon, and Parque Talampaya

April 11
Ryan's Herculean strength
As we arrived in the town Valle Fertile, the closest south of the Parks, our mission to find a tour company to take us there and drop us off with all of our gear was quickly accomplished.  We stayed at the Eco Hostel that wasn't at all "eco" in Valle Fertile, but rooms were cheap and we met other cool people from the hostel that were going with us on the tour that day.  One of the guys happened to make a living playing Poker and comes down to Argentina every year to vacation for a few months.  He looked about my age, and I must say I was a bit envious of his lifestyle.
 
The issue with going to these parks is that you HAVE to take a payed tour.  Alt least the tours of the park were really well done and the parks themselves had spectacular rock and land formations. In the end, we payed something around $100 for 2 tours for 2 hours a tour. But those are the rules, and the landscape is so amazing that we didn't want to pass up the opportunity to see them.
 
In case you go traveling there, just to let you know, there are three fees you need to pay.  The entrance fee at the gate, the tour operator fee to get to the parks and to be driven through Ichigualasto, and then yet another tour operator fee for a separate company that is the only one allowed to drive you through Parque Talampaya.  For a biker tourer, it is easy to get to the parks along HWY 510.  They offer mountain bike tours of Parque Ichigualasto, but the route that these tours take is different from the driving route.  This means that none of the really cool stopping points with really bizarre and interesting rock formations can be seen by the bike tours.  If I were to go again, I would definitely go on a full moon tour in the middle of the evening at Parque Ichigualasto.  We have heard that this tour is really amazing from reading other blogs.  Another thing to consider when visiting these parks is that rainy season is January and February, so most of the truely stunning parts Tampalaya are not accessible then.  It rained a bit the previous two days before we arrived at the parks, and we had a great ride through some river beds as you can see...
Uh, don't we need four-wheel drive?
 
 
Here are some pics of the park, and I'll let them speak for themselves:
 
Ichigualasto-
Valley of the Moon
What about my ballsack?
My shadow cannot tell a lie
This is the one on all of the poster advertisements
 
Tampalaya-
How does erosion actually carve these voids out with such uniformity?
After drinking the shrinking tonic
 
Jose with the beautiful backdrop
Guanacos chillaxin
 
That night, camping at Park Talampaya we had a great spot under a reed shade structure, a great taco dinner, and a lovely conversation with Walter the night watchman.  The showers were cold in the morning and the generator a bit loud and powered the park building until 10pm, but other than that it was a great place to stay, and about $2.50 each.