Thinking of visit Talampaya in La Rioja Argentina? The national park is one of the things you have to do on a tour of the Cuyo region of Argentina.
In addition to visiting Chilecito, another of the most sought after places by tourists arriving in the province of La Rioja is the Talampaya Canyon, named World Heritage Site by Unesco, which imposes with its large walls 150 meters high and its reddish color. During the tour through the canyon you can see the different geological layers that make up the rock walls.
Looking for more places to see in La Rioja Argentina? Check out this article on things to do in La Rioja Argentina in 3, 4 or 5 days.
🔘 Check out the rest of the World Heritage Sites we have visited.
1) What is Talampaya Canyon and how was it formed?
The formation of the Andes mountain range produced this relief made up of sandstone with a high presence of iron oxide, which gives it its characteristic reddish color.
This, added to the erosion produced by wind, water and extreme temperature variations between winter and summer, allowed the rock to generate curious formations such as the friar or the cathedral.
In addition to the aforementioned, the site has petroglyphs of the native peoples of the area.
2) Best time to visit Talampaya in La Rioja Argentina
Although it is open all year round, the temperature difference between summer and winter must be taken into account. During the summer, the park is less visited, because temperatures usually reach 40 degrees during the day. At night the thermals drop considerably.
On the other hand, in winter the temperature can reach 0 degrees Celsius or even below zero.
We went in October and it was already hot, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius.
Consequently, the best time to visit Talampaya is from March to October.
It rains very little in the canyon and usually in summer. The visit to Talampaya is only suspended in case of rain due to the flooding of the river that crosses the canyon or the presence of zonda wind, which happens very few days a year and in the months of January and February.
As the entire tour is outdoors, it is advisable, especially in summer, to wear a hat or cap and sunscreen. It goes without saying that you should wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
3) How are the excursions to visit Talampaya in La Rioja Argentina?
The first thing to keep in mind is that it is not possible to visit Talampaya by car. The canyon area is managed by a private company that is in charge of conducting the tours with its vehicles. With your own vehicle or with a transfer from Villa Unión you can reach the reception area and the restaurant, which has a parking lot where you can leave your car.
📷 Book the Talampaya Canyon tour here (includes transport and guide, does not include entrance to the national park).
📸 Check here the 5 day excursion from San Juan through Valle de la Luna, Leoncito and Talampaya and make a reservation. Includes: transfers in 4×4 and guide.
On the other hand, it is advisable to book excursions in advance and, above all, to check departure times. You can see all the information about each visit from Talampaya’s official website and purchase tickets from there.
There are three excursion possibilities inside the canyon. In both cases the excursion includes transportation through the canyon, a guide and stops at the most attractive places.
Actually, there is another possibility that is free but we do not recommend it because it only accesses the first stop and does not go into the canyon itself, so you will miss the most important part of the canyon. The free excursion is called“Nature and Culture” and departs twice a day with prior reservation.
– Talampaya Canyon Experience
It is the most classic tour that is done by minibus or combi on the dry riverbed of the Talampaya River. It lasts two and a half hours and there are four stops where visitors get off the van with the guide, who gives a brief explanation of the place.
The four stops are:
- The Petroglyphs: they highlight the paintings made by indigenous people on the rock in pre-Hispanic times, some of which are 2,000 years old. Mortars for grinding food can also be seen.
- The Botanical Garden: this particular landscape of trees and bushes, which seems to represent a small forest in the middle of a desert landscape, is one of the main attractions of the place. The tour ends on the canyon wall where the so-called “chimney” is located, a large concave hole in the rock that extends along the canyon wall and allows you to hear the echo up to three times when someone shouts something. After walking along the trail, there is a short break where a snack is offered, which is included in the entrance fee.
- The Gothic Cathedral: on one of the canyon walls stands out the figure of a large cathedral with its towers. It is one of the most characteristic places of the park and the photo does not show the dimension of the impressive place.
- The Monk: the last stop requires a walk along wooden walkways until you see the figure of a monk on one of the rocks. The surrounding landscape is truly spectacular.
– Talampaya Canyon and Shimpa Canyon Experience
In this case, the trip is made in 4×4 trucks. In addition to the visit to the Talampaya canyon described above, there is a tour of the Shimpa canyon where the width between the 80 meter high stone walls does not exceed seven meters.
The duration of the excursion in this case is four hours. In addition, a catering service is offered with local products, a kind of picnic on one of the walls of the Shimpa canyon.
📷 Book the Talampaya Canyon and Shimpa Canyon tour here. Includes 4WD transport, guide and picnic. Does not include entrance fee to the national park.
– Talampaya Canyon experience plus balconies
The last alternative is to make the usual route through the four stations to finish with an ascending trek to reach the top of the reddish walls, in the so-called balconies of the park. From there, the views are fabulous of the entire canyon and you can appreciate from above why Talampaya is one of the natural wonders of the country.
The duration of the excursion is also four hours and includes a guide plus the transfer by van.
4) Things to do in Talampaya La Rioja besides the canyons
During the excursions there is plenty of wildlife to observe along the way. We were able to see condors flying over the canyon walls, maras and vicuñas.
In addition, in front of the park’s reception area and restaurant, there is a self-guided trail called the Triassic Trail with exhibits of dinosaur replicas that inhabited this land millions of years ago.
5) Prices to visit Talampaya in La Rioja Argentina (2023)
To take any of the three excursions to the Talampaya Canyon you must pay the entrance fee to the national park, which is not included in the price of the excursion. This payment is made directly at the park entrance, next to the restaurant.
The entrance fee to Talampaya National Park is 1.590 pesos for Argentine residents and 5,500 pesos for foreigners.
The prices of the excursions are as follows:
- The price of the excursion to Talampaya Canyon is 7,700 pesos (June 2023) for both Argentine and foreign residents.
- The price of the excursion to Talampaya Canyon plus Shimpa Canyon is 10,000 pesos (June 2023) for both Argentine and foreign residents.
- The price of the excursion to the Talampaya Canyon plus the balconies is 11,900 pesos (June 2023) for both Argentine and foreign residents.
In both cases there is a 50% discount for children under 12 years of age and bonuses on family packages.
⚠️ PRECIOS ACTUALIZADOS EN ARGENTINA: Debido a la alta inflación que hay en Argentina, puede que los precios que están incluidos acá estén desactualizados. Intentamos mantenerlos lo más al día posible. Pero puede que alguno se nos pase. Por favor, no dejen de pasar por las webs oficiales a chequear.
6) What services does Talampaya National Park offer?
The area where the vehicle is left parked has a restaurant and cafeteria called Naturaleza Mística (with somewhat high prices), supplies necessary to buy something if you go camping, restrooms and souvenir sales. Food is not allowed in the Talampaya Canyon.
7) Where to stay in Talampaya La Rioja
If you are going to visit Talampaya, keep in mind that there is only one campsite inside the national park. If you are looking for something indoors, then you should stay in the city of Villa Unión in La Rioja, 55 km from the park entrance, or in the Valle Fértil area in the province of San Juan (the most common town is San Agustín del Valle Fértil).
For proximity and number of lodging options, the most convenient is Villa Unión. One of the hotels to recommend in Villa Unión:
- Chakana Hospedaje Rural: surrounded by a beautiful natural environment on the outskirts of Villa Unión. Excellent breakfast and service.
- Hotel Valle Colorado: cabins and rooms and outdoor swimming pool in downtown Villa Unión. It has a restaurant.
🏨 Do you want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels in Villa Unión.
If after visiting Talampaya you want to go to Ischigualasto National Park, one of the most convenient alternatives is to sleep in the town of Baldecitos, near the entrance to Ischigualasto. That’s what we did, this way you save time and extra kilometers.
The lodging options in Baldecitos are very scarce and basic, but for one night it is more than enough. We stayed at Hospedaje Leandra, one of the two options available in the area.
8) TALAMPAYA and ISCHIGUALASTO on the same day (MAP)
This is our experience visiting Ischigualasto. Take a look at it to complete your visit!
Both parks are very close to each other and can be done perfectly in the same day, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. We usually recommend Talampaya in the morning and Ischigualasto in the afternoon (the last excursion to see the sun reflect on the Cordón de los Colorados). We did it in two days and close to noon so that it would not be so exhausting.
Logistically, it is a complicated issue because you have to travel in your own car, the distances are long and the route is not one of the busiest (in addition, you have to take into account the animals that cross the route). There is also the possibility of renting a car or hiring a car with driver in a city or town.
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