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San Agustin del Valle Fertil 2.9.15

September 8, 2015

San Agustin del Valle Fertil 2.9.15

This town is an oasis amongst scrubby waterless desert. It’s been that way since before Difunta Correa’s shrine. No wonder she died of thirst. Water has to be shipped in to the town built around the shrine and for the next 200kms there was almost no sign of habitation. Life cannot exist without water.

But San Agustin has a shallow river flowing gently out of the Sierra de Valle Fertil and the town has made good use of it by building a dam well above the river but channelling the water into it from further up the valley by way of a 850 metre tunnel that was blasted out of the mountainside in the 1930s. It is in a beautiful  setting with a one and a half hour walk around the perimeter of the dam shaded much of the way by eucalypts as well as native flora. Aquatic birds have found heaven.

We took the day off today emptying the suitcases and storing them, sorting out clothes to give away as too much was brought back from AU and washing off the three months of smog residue covering the bakkie. It’s a nice municipal camp site here apart from the usual lack of maintenance. Juiletta, the young woman in attendance was very helpful and spoke good English. Something that came as a surprise as this is a rarity in the boondocks.

Tomorrow we head north to Parque Provincial Ischigualasto also known as Valle de la Luna as the landscape is meant to resemble the lunar surface. We shall see.

Free camp north of PP Ischigualasto 3.9.15

The Povincial Park Ischgualasto didn’t let us down. Earlier overlanders had queried whether the trip was worth the $10 per person, but both of us think it was money well spent.

Visitors are shown around the 40km circuit by convoy with a guide, in our case Aireal. Unfortuately his English was non existent so at the 5 stops to learn about the valley we had to stand back and try and pick up the few words we have learnt. Still, it was an interesting afternoon with the rock formations out of this world. Of course they had names like the Submarine, the Mushroom and the Sphinx but it was the country itself that blew your mind. One sign read ‘The Ischigualasto Badlands’ which was a good summary of what they looked like. All along the eastern boundary of the park rose these ochre cloured cliffs rising a good 100 metres from the base.

This park is a mecca for paleontologists who have unearthed some of the earliest animal fossils ever discovered. Ones going back well before the Jurassic period. A new display centre has just been opened to the public. A round structure with at the middle an opening exposing the land surface below. And partially protruding through the dirt are two full dinasour skeletons. One of the staff went about showing us how intricate and time consuming unearthing the fossil was. It was all very interesting.

We are using an app called iOverlander. Added to by people travelling in a similar fashion to ourselves it shows many free camping sites as well as good official camping grounds, vehicle repair, gas refills and other helpful places. After visiing the park we headed out along the route north till coming upon one of the free camping places shown. One hundred mtres off a side road, flat, partially hidden and plenty of firewood, ideal for the one night.

One Comment
  1. Denis & Sandy Brennan permalink

    G & J Found you at last. There are 2 St Augustins & 2 Villa Unions. I couldn’t work out how you were getting about so quickly, but I have you now at Cafayate. All is going well with you both and the bakkie. Hope Joan’s hearing has healed All well here, keep up the adventures. Love Denis & Sandy

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