Easter: the two unsuspected nature destinations that have no more accommodation to offer

The summer season ended on a very positive note; it’s even been rated the best of the past decade in many of the country’s top tourist destinations. Holy Week now comes with the same momentum, and according to the latest report from the Nation’s Ministry of Tourism, a dozen provinces have reservations that, on average, are between 75 and 90 percent occupancy. However, when breaking down the information by region, some data catches the eye. Some of the most popular, known and requested off-tour destinations have no more rooms available to offer: they are at 100% capacity.

Villa Union, capital of the department of General Felipe Varela, in La Rioja; is one of the protagonists of these scenarios. And the same thing happens in Calingasta, a valley surrounded by the foothills of the Andes, in San Juan. According to official forecasts, it is estimated that approximately 2.5 million Argentines will mobilize across the country during the next long weekend.

“We have great expectations, the figures reaching us from the various destinations in the country indicate that we are going to experience a record Holy Week, in line with the main weekends of the summer season, with occupancy rates above 90% confirmed Matías Lammens , Minister of Tourism and Sports.These figures are strongly supported by the Pre-Trip, which has extended the season during the months of March and April, with more than 750,000 people using this plan to travel during this period “.

“We have approximately 1,300 places in total, and as we had no more places, we also opened an extra-hotel register to provide support in the face of such a demand. These are family houses which are made available to tourists and which add a hundred additional beds, ”he says enthusiastically. THE NATION Nadia Barrera, Secretary of Tourism for the General Department of Felipe Varela, of which Villa Unión, just at the intersection of Route 40 with National Route 76, is the main town. A strategic point to base yourself, visit the west of the province of La Rioja and know the main tourist attraction of the region: Talampaya National Parkwhich is 60 kilometers away.

Villa Unión is the capital of General Felipe Varela’s department and the strategic point for visiting Talampaya and other tourist attractions.DOWN@

Talampaya has been a national park since 1997. In 2000, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which greatly encouraged tourism in the region. He received another boost in 2018, when he won a position among the seven natural wonders of Argentina. “More and more people are visiting us,” says Barrera. But above all, there is much more to know and visit in the region, and the other towns that make up the department of Felipe Varela are also in great demand. In Pagancillo, just 30 kilometers from Talampaya, the reserves have peaked; and in Aicuña the same thing happens, which is a town of only 300 inhabitants, one of the oldest in the province, with adobe houses, and in which there is a group of town producers who make up the Vinos de Aicuña winery, where the wines are made without preservatives or chemicals”.

From Villa Unión, moreover, you can easily reach other well-known tourist places. Day trips to discover the Laguna Brava, the Corona del Inca crater, at more than 5400 meters above sea level or the Cuesta de Miranda, a scenic road with incredible landscapes that connects Villa Unión to Chilecito.

Talampaya National Park
Talampaya National ParkCandy

The tourism that will arrive in the next few days is national, almost entirely, but from the local tourism secretariat, they assure that they are receiving more and more foreign visitors, especially French, Germans and tourists from the United States. “With Holy Week, the strongest season for us begins in the province. La Rioja is very hot in summer, with a desert climate and little rainfall concentrated in the hottest months. For this reason, by October is the best time to explore it and enjoy the mountains that surround us and their imposing reddish walls”.

the Calingasta Valley, in Saint Jeansurrounded by the foothills and the Andes mountain range, has also sold all of its locations, with around 2,000 official tourist locations and another similar alternative package, with residential homes put up for rent. Although the days offered by the extra-long Easter holidays are not enough to entice you to complete the trip it offers the six thousand balconya trek for which you must have at least a week and where you can see several of the most spectacular peaks in America —including Cerro Mercedario with its 6770 meters of altitude— the proposals are multiple.

Calingasta, in San Juan, is the only municipality in the interior of the country to have obtained certification in sustainable tourism
Calingasta, in San Juan, is the only municipality in the interior of the country to have obtained certification in sustainable tourism

“There are three cities in the province that are at maximum capacity. One of them is Calingasta, with Valle Fertil and Iglesia. But the average occupancy rate in the province is already over 90%,” says Roberto Juárez, head of the San Juan Tourism Secretariat.

The Calingasta Valley, in particular, has experienced sustained growth over the past three years, and part of the success of this municipality, where 12,000 inhabitants currently live, is based on the diversification of its offer and its natural attractions. “One of the strongest products is the mountain and all the trekking activities that take place in the region, with the Mercedario as the center of attraction, which will soon become a nature reserve”, reinforces Juárez.

He also mentions one of the most renowned sites of the past year: the Turquesa stream, in Barreal, south of the department of Calingasta. It is a drop of water that descends from the Mercedario, at an altitude of about 3,800 meters, and which, due to its surprising color, has become a phenomenon of scientific study.

Tree-Lined Trails in San Juan
Tree-Lined Trails in San JuanTourism San Juan

“The gastronomic product is also very strong in the region and, of course, everything that has to do with the astronomical tourismwith its epicenter in El Leoncito National Park and one of the clearest skies in the world,” boasts Juárez.

Two international observatories are based there, such as the Félix Aguilar Observatory and the El Leoncito Astronomical Complex (Casleo), which have activities throughout the year.

the the valley’s favorite sport is sand yachting. Pushed by the wind in the Pampa del Leoncito, the sailboat picks up speed and gets lost in the mountains. This plain, 12 kilometers long and 5 kilometers wide, is a white desert that brings together sports enthusiasts and wind lovers. Those who are encouraged and wait for night to fall, in addition, usually enjoy one of the most starry skies of all.

Calingasta sky
Calingasta skyTourism San Juan

In Barreal you can also ride a mule and a horse, among poplars and willows; Discover the mountain trails by mountain bike or dare to go rafting on the Los Patos River.

fertile valley, another of the destinations full of reserves, is almost 250 kilometers from the city of San Juan and stands out, among other characteristics, for its vegetation of cardones, jarillas, cacti and carob trees. About 75 kilometers away is Ischigualasto Provincial Park, much better known – commercially – as moon valley. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the Talampaya National Park, and both are witnesses to the Triassic period, where the oldest dinosaurs in the world once roamed. A story that spans more than two hundred million years.

Kite surfing on one of the windiest lakes in the country
Kite surfing on one of the windiest lakes in the country

Northwest of the city of San Juan, and almost at the limit of the capacity of its reserves, is the valley of Church, a place with archaeological sites from the aborigines to the ancient Inca civilization. In addition to some historic attractions such as the Achango Chapel, built by the Jesuits in the 18th century, in Iglesia you can go windsurfing and kitesurfing in one of the windiest lakes in the world. With more than 300 days a year of 20 knot winds, the Cuesta del Viento dam is the scene of the kitefest, where once a year riders from all over the world come together to demonstrate their skills.

Leave a Comment