We will discover the “Los Morrillos” Wildlife Reserve, which was closed for many years at the foot of the Andes, in the area known as the Ansilta Mountain Range. In addition to the wealth of flora and fauna, the caves with cave art and the imposing views of the Calingasta and Barreal valleys stand out.
From Barreal we will also visit the Pampa del Leoncito.
Then, on the way to Mendoza, we will pass by the Inca Ruins Los Tambillos and the abandoned mines “Los Paramillos de Uspallata”, where the San Martín army extracted minerals for the powder magazines, and which a century before was exploited by the Jesuits. It was discovered in 1683 and is considered the oldest metalliferous mine in the country.
On the way we will be able to contemplate a magnificent arid landscape from the height, with wide views towards the agricultural oases of the north of Mendoza and the Quebrada de Villavicencio with its 365 curves that constitute the famous “Caracoles de Villavicencio”.
Modality: Adventure trip, photosafari, archaeological and nature tourism, trekking of moderate difficulty, walks, 4×4 off road (approximately 30% of the journey is on mountain tracks).
Difficulty: Maximum height: 3000 masl.
San Juan and Mendoza
Day 1: San Juan
Reception at San Juan airport in the morning, transfer to the hotel and explanatory talk of the tour.
Optional excursion at 15:00 hs
Tour of the city of San Juan and its most important points. Birthplace of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Urban Center, Cultural Neighborhood, Bicentennial Theater, Auditorium, Parque de Mayo, Civic Center, Government House that are part of the social, political and cultural life of the San Juan people.
We will start to get away from the city and see the first mountains only 15 km away.
We will go through Ullum Valley and Dam until we reach the new Punta Negra Dam, which is part of the perilago.
After some photographs in this reservoir we return by the locality of Zonda with its Valley and Quebrada, we will visit an artisan factory of olive oil and a Boutique wine cellar attended by its own owners.
We return to the hotel.
Day 2: San Juan – Pampa del Leoncito – Barreal
Breakfast (or reception at San Juan bus terminal). Departure towards southwest Sanjuanino, crossing part of the mythical route 40 that crosses all the productive valley of this small province Cuyana. This route will take us to a road very little used by tourism, but we will be surprised by its views of the entire valley, the Guanacache desert that separates the provinces of San Juan and Mendoza, to reach the Cuevas Mineras de Las Flechas where we will make a first stop after crossing the river that gives it its name. Then we continue along the road bordering an extensive precordillera zone where we can observe quarries from where the lime and cement are extracted, distributed in great part of our country and an important percentage of exportation to Chile. Once we leave this mining sector, whose aridity is the predominant landscape, we arrive at a valley with unique characteristics: Pedernal. The contrast between desert, vineyards, cactus and cardones will be the subject of a new photographic scale. Our next resting point is a mountain post known as Santa Clara. A large plain highlighted by a centenary poplar will invite us to walk and take photographs approaching a waterfall of approximately 15 meters high. After a snack we will enter a ravine that in parts only leaves room for the vans and where the sky can not be seen. It is a surprising canyon at more than 2800 meters above sea level that then opens to surprise us with a breathtaking view of all the Central Andes with the Andean giants Aconcagua, Tupungato, Plata and Mercedario. Picnic lunch in the mountain spot “El Paramillo” where we can see a condor. After lunch we begin to descend towards this great valley, where we must be attentive for the appearance of some Choique (small ostrich), eagles, falconcitos and/or guanacos among other animals of the zone. Arriving at Barreal, our final destination for the day, we will be surprised by an extensive formation similar to some salt flats called “La Pampa del Leoncito”, the last contemplative stop before arriving at our lodging. The site has privileged views of our colorful foothills and the Andean giants to the west, which surprise us with their glaciers and peaks of more than 6700 meters above sea level. Transfers to the Posada. Night in Barreal
Day 3: Barreal – Los Morrillos – Bodega Boutique
We have breakfast and head towards the foot of the Andes, in the area known as the Ansilta Mountain Range, where the “Los Morrillos” Wildlife Refuge is located. This is an area of the Phytogeographical regions of Monte, La Puna and the High Andes, located in the southeast of the Province of San Juan, with sceneries of great beauty, a high value of floral-faunistic richness with exclusive species and an even greater richness for housing archaeological sites from which were extracted 6 mummies of about 8000 years old and other pieces of great archaeological value. Among the autochthonous fauna that we will be able to observe are the condor, the suri cordillerano or choique, sub species exclusively restricted to Andean environments of the Argentine northwest whose populations have diminished ostensibly, the mora eagle, the big agachona, the serrano swift, the small serrana catita, the puneño hummingbird, the chorlo cabezón among others, besides the big road, whose populations are scarce and it is exclusive of the central andes. Among the mammals is the permanent presence of a large population of guanacos, the chinchillón, the gray fox, the puma, which occupies the top of the food chain of the Refuge, and the red fox. We will try to spot these species during this day, both from the truck and doing some walk to the forest of Chacayes known as “El Chacaicito”, to the Arroyo Fiero that serves as a refuge for several birds. Lunch in the nature type pic nic. Finally, we will visit the hill that gives its name to the area, El Morrillo Chato, where we will be able to appreciate archaeological remains and visit the caves that were inhabited by one of the oldest aboriginal cultures in the country. After the tour we return to Barreal, making a visit to the first boutique winery in the area, with a tasting under the eaves of this small establishment overlooking the Andes and Barreal Valley. We return to the Posada. Night in Barreal.
Day 4: Barreal – San Alberto – Mendoza.
We have an early breakfast and head south on the way to Mendoza, passing by Pampa del Leoncito, where we make another short stop to take pictures with a different perspective. We will continue our trip passing by ancient Inca ruins, and already in Mendocino terrain, precisely in Uspallata, we will change course to go to the Villavicencio Reserve, a picturesque pre-Andean mountain road with a quantity of guanacos that maraud our surroundings together with birds, reptiles and rodents typical of these latitudes. It is a tour that will surprise us with the amount of excellent views all along the way, known by many as “the road of a thousand and one curves” that ends at the now known and abandoned Villavicencio Hotel. Picnic lunch in nature. After descending from these foothills, we go to Mendoza airport to return to our destinations.
End of services.
+ info LOS MORRILLOS
Human presence in Los Morrillos dates back more than 8,000 years, with the Culture of La Fortuna, the first men were transhumant hunters of Guanacos and Suris. Their tools were rudimentary, they worked the stone to obtain arrowheads and scrapers. Later, around the year 6,000 B.C., the “Morrillos hunters” settled in the Morrillo Chato caves as dwellings, leaving abundant traces of their daily activity. They were followed by another cultural current called “Ansilta culture”. This group carried out agriculture by means of the canalization of terraces of culture; of them mummies have been found in very good state of conservation, deposited in the caves of the zone.
The Ansilta culture is one of the great enigmas of Argentine archaeology, very little is known about these men who inhabited Argentina for more than 2000 years (from 1,798 B.C. to 500 A.D.), one of the longest periods known in the history of pre-Columbian peoples.
For all these reasons, it is very important to highlight the great archaeological value of Los Morrillos Refuge. For example, in the north face of Morrillo Chato there are eaves and caves that were the settlement of successive aboriginal cultures between 8,500 B.C. and 500 B.C. approximately. There are three larger caves where you can see numerous traces of these cultures, such as cave paintings, mortars grouped or individual stones, projectile tips, scrapers and other objects. In the largest cave, archaeologists from the University of San Juan extracted six mummified bodies and two skeletons from the Morrillos culture. Also in the vicinity of the Fiero stream, there are several natural caves that were used as granaries by farming cultures, presenting one of them cave paintings.
+ info Inca Archaeological Site LOS TAMBILLOS
This place was inhabited by the Incas about 500 years ago. It is located in the valley of Uspallata, about 2,200 m.a.s.l. in lands of the estancia “Los Tambillos”, in the route N° 39 that joins Uspallata with Calingasta.
Tambillos is located in the extreme southern east that the Incas called Collasuyo, which is part of the Tahuantisuyu (or domain of the four regions united by Cuzco, center of the Inca world).
The Incas conquered the local populations, which were submitted under their domination to provide different services (mitas). In other cases, they founded administrative centers called tambos – in quechua tampu – according to their own pattern of architecture, and this is what can be observed in ruins in the place.
Today you can visit the ruins of the tambo and observe the Inca Trail in its projection through the valley. You can also appreciate the snowy mountain range.
In Tambillos, in sector III (named this way by the researchers) the manufacture of ceramics was carried out. “This characterizes the tambo, within the total system of the Inca implantation of the region”.
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– Transfers in and out at established times.
– 1 night in San Juan.
– 2 nights in Barreal.
– Half board from lunch day 2 to lunch day 4 (picnic at noon).
– Excursions with Professional Guide in 4×4 double cabin vans.
– Tickets to San Juan and from Mendoza.
– Meals not specified.
– Expenses for abandonment of expedition.
– Other services not specified.
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