If you are tired of traditional destinations and want to explore new places to live incredible experiences, we suggest you take a look at things to do in Brava lagoon and surroundings, which is located near Vinchina in the province of La Rioja.
Vinchina is one of the many small towns of La Rioja from which you can make some very interesting expeditions into the Andes Mountains.
Travelers also tend to choose Villa Unión as a base, but if they travel with time, I suggest doing it from Vinchina, a town with a lot of charm and thus promote inland tourism. Besides, leaving from Villa Union you will only have time to visit Laguna Brava, while from Vinchina you will be able to reach other more off-road places and live a unique adventure.
🔝 Check out this article if you want to know everything there is to do in La Rioja. Plan your trip!
📜 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Where is Brava lagoon in La Rioja? MAP
In this map you will find the location of Brava lagoon, Vinchina and the most spectacular sites of the province of La Rioja along route 76.
How is the excursion to Brava lagoon and its surroundings?
Although you can get to Villa Unión or Vinchina on your own, either by car or bus, I recommend hiring an excursion with a local guide who is an expert in the area. Especially if you choose to do the excursion to Corona del Inca or El Volcancito (both pass through Laguna Brava), as the terrain is uneven and completely off-road.
Some highlights of the excursions for all there is to see in and around Brava lagoon are:
- 4×4 vehicle. A must! Since most of the road is gravel.
- Take a local guide who is an expert in the area.
- There are basically two ways to make this excursion, each with its advantages and disadvantages:
- With a private guide in your own vehicle: you are the driver and he will only show you the way. Therefore, any difficulty on the road will be the result of a driving error. I have known guides to drive your vehicle in the more difficult areas if you are not that experienced, alleviating the stress that these roads can produce. Also, with a private guide, you have more freedom to manage your time and stop as many times as you decide to photograph the landscapes you like the most.
- “Crossing” mode, where the guide rides in his own vehicle, guiding the rest of the caravan. The advantage is that the guide will mark the way with his own vehicle and, if he passes, surely yours too. When traveling in caravans, it is necessary to have much more patience, especially if the caravans are composed of several vehicles, since it is necessary to conform the wills of more people.
- You have to get up early! Departure is around 5:00 a.m. The reason is that you have to get to the Corona del Inca crater before noon, because then the wind begins to blow strong and annoying enough. In addition, because on the way it is necessary to cross some sandy areas that are frozen in the morning, which facilitates the circulation.
- Admire the starry night of La Rioja: From Vinchina take the road to Laguna Brava. These first stretches are traveled without daylight, which allows you to make a stop along the way to observe the impressive night of La Rioja. If you like starry nights or if you want to see the Milky Way in its splendor, this is a unique opportunity for you to do so. These stops are also important to acclimatize to the altitude.
1) Brava lagoon
After traveling a winding gravel road, which on the way back and with daylight will reveal itself as a cornice, we arrive at Brava lagoon, just in time to contemplate the sunrise. The first rays of the sun, illuminating the mountains and the lagoon, will make you live a really intense moment, observing and enjoying the changing colors of the mountains as the minutes pass and the sun rises.
On the way back, there will also be time for now if, enjoy all there is to see in Brava lagoon, and you can even make a stop along the way to eat a snack at the shelters dating back to the time of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, widely used by muleteers who move their livestock from one field to another. A large number of flamingos and other native birds can be observed in the lagoon.
Now you will be able to enjoy route 76, the road that was traveled at night, in parts of gravel, with steep ups and downs, very winding and in some places very narrow. A typical cornice road, not very suitable for those who suffer from vertigo.
💯 It appears that the paving work on Route 76 is progressing (see news). In any case, the road is still winding and at high altitude. Then, to reach the rest of the sites around Brava lagoon and Vinchina, the roads will continue to be gravel.
2) Corona del Inca Crater
To reach the Corona del Inca crater, we leave behind Laguna Brava and Route 76 to enter a totally “off road” terrain. This is where the adventure begins.
The first kilometers are covered over rocky or sandy terrain that at that time of the day is still frozen. As you go along, you have to cross a river, or even drive along its bed.
Here the guide’s role is fundamental, since with his experience he indicates how to take each stone, which makes driving through these off-road terrains an incredible experience.
But it’s not just the driving, of course, but with every step you take, the scenery changes and becomes incredibly beautiful. The road climbs and you reach a point where the penitentes or ice and snow formations totally dominate the scene.
From there, the Corona del Inca crater begins to be observed.
It is necessary to get out of the vehicle to enjoy and contemplate this spectacle of nature. In my personal case, a feeling of fullness completely seized me. Feeling the possibility of being in that place so dreamed of and so praised for its beauty, makes you feel very full and full of vitality.
Continuing a few more kilometers, we arrive at the Corona del Inca viewpoint, where we reach an altitude of more than 5,000 meters above sea level. The temperature is below zero, but the sensations make you forget the climatic discomfort and fully integrate with the landscape. One of the most amazing landscapes to see in Brava lagoon and surroundings.
3) Part of the Dakar Rally circuit
If you are going to spend more days in Brava lagoon, La Rioja, you can enjoy an unforgettable adventure near Vinchina.
This time you can leave in the morning and after a few kilometers of pavement, you will have to take a detour on a secondary path or trail. From there you begin to travel along part of the circuit that the Dakar Rally traveled in 2018. It is a road framed by majestic hills and, in the middle, a terrain that changes every moment.
It passes through sandy parts, other stony, earthy parts. There is also no trail as such to follow, only footprints that one must follow.
The landscape dazzles with its beauty, and it is impossible not to imagine international rally stars riding and racing along these trails.
After several kilometers you will reach a wide river that must be crossed to continue the journey. In our case, the tracks on the other side of the river had been completely erased, so the guide had to go down to explore where to continue in order to reach the main road.
It is part of the circular adventure among thorns and bushes, trying to find a trail that will lead us to the gravel road. A real off-road adventure!
4) El Volcancito
El Volcancito is one of the most impressive places to see in the surroundings of Laguna Brava and is close to Vinchina. It is only 7 meters high, so it can easily be climbed to reach its crater, which has turned into a dark blue lagoon. There are not enough words to describe the beauty of this natural formation.
The depth of the crater lake cannot yet be determined. It is undoubtedly an unmissable place to visit.
To reach the Volcancito you will again have to demonstrate your expertise and the need for an experienced guide. The GPS does not recognize the roads, and after passing through the National Gendarmeria post, several trails open up, all without any kind of indication. Then the return to Vinchina is by the Brava lagoon road.
5) La Troya Gorge
One of the places to see near Vinchina, since it is only a few kilometers from there, is La Quebrada de la Troya, another splendid road with rock formations of incredible beauty.
Its particularity lies in the fact that the reddish rocks of the mountain are inclined to one side, although there are more places to see inside, following the course of the Bermejo River. For example, the Pyramid.
6) Toro Hill
To visit Toro hill, take the road to Villa Unión. It is located 54 kilometers from Vinchina. There you can make a very interesting trekking through some old ruins and observe some cave paintings.
Things to do near Vinchina and Brava lagoon?
There are several points of interest to visit in the area of Brava lagoon and surroundings.
Talampaya National Park is one of them and, on the way to Chilecito, you can pass through the Cuesta de Miranda, which is also a beautiful route.
🔝 See here how to visit Talampaya National Park.
Useful information to visit Brava lagoon and Vinchina
Where to stay in Vinchina
Vinchina is a very small town and has local accommodations that you will not find online. On the map, zooming in, you will find several options. With them you can also book your excursions to get to know Brava lagoon and its surroundings.
🏨 Find here the best lodging in Vinchina.
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Sobre el autor: ¡Hola a todos! Soy Daniel Oliveros, nacido en Buenos Aires, Argentina, hace 62 años. Soy Licenciado en Administración, amante de los viajes y con una gran pasión por la fotografía. A partir de la pandemia y frente a todas las complicaciones para tomar aviones, decidimos comprarnos con mi esposa Mariana un vehículo 4×4 y comenzar a redescubrir nuestro extenso país. Llevamos recorridos más de 40.000 km y ambos estamos fascinados con esta nueva modalidad de viajar que nos permite la posibilidad de acceder a hermosos rincones de la Argentina, explorando caminos no tradicionales. Somos amantes de los destinos naturales, los paisajes agrestes, la flora y fauna, y, como fotógrafo aficionado, me encanta poder retratar esos paisajes y momentos únicos para poder compartirlos con todos. Mi mayor deseo es transmitirles parte de mis experiencias, buscando aquellos lugares escondidos o no tan tradicionales
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