San Juan Journals

Calingasta: A Nice Village in the Andes

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A December 2005 trip to San Juan by Robert Raymond Ingledew

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Quote: Calingasta is an irrigated valley very near the Andes, dedicated mostly to mining, apple, walnut, and garlic plantations. It is a small town, near the Andes. There is good trout fishing in the area. It is near Uspallata, Mendoza, (some 95 miles away).

Calingasta: A Nice Village in the Andes

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Overview

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Quote:
Calingasta is an irrigated area, and you can see the Andes from any part of the village. There are regular bus and traffic van services from San Juan. The trip takes nearly 4 hours. Even though it is the administrative center of the Department of Calingasta, there is no bank, nor even an ATM in the village, that has some 8,000 inhabitants. The nearest banks are at Barreal, some 25 miles away. There are only 2 small hotels, of which I prefer the Hotel de Campo Calingasta, that is some 2 miles away from the downtown, since it has a swimming pool and weather can be very warm. The other option is the Hospedaje Nora (Nora Lodge) that does have air-conditioning, but no swimming pool. Both hotels charge s...Read More

El Leoncito National Park

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Story/Tip

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This is the most interesting part of the trip. Unfortunately I went on December 24 and the observatory was closed, but in any case I enjoyed thoroughly the trip. At Barreal there is a National Park office where you can check the visit hours of the Astronomic Observatory. In this sense, Barreal is better organized than Calingasta, even though it is a similar (or maybe smaller) village. Here you have banks, ATMs, supermarkets, restaurants, and a couple of good (and more expensive) hotels. Although I cannot recommend any, you might want to know their names and phones: DEPARTAMENTOS CORDILLERANOS, Roca s/n, phone (54-2648) 44-1016; HOTEL BARREAL, San Martín s/n, phone (54-2648) 44-1090; POSADA ...Read More

Places to Visit in San Juan City

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San Juan is an important wine producing area and there are many vineyards and wineries in the area. Vineyards and wine production are concentrated at Caucete and Albardon, and you can visit these towns by bus, or on local tours. The city of San Juan was nearly destroyed by an earthquake sixty years ago, and is today a modern city, although in my opinion Mendoza has far more vegetation. The city has a beautiful park (Rivadavia), where you can rent boats, and a well-known car racing track at Quebrada del Zonda, that also has nice places for bathing. The Ullum dam forms one of the most important lakes in San Juan, where you can fish rainbow trout, and that is far from the city. A taxi drive t...Read More

The Road from Calingasta to Mendoza

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I have traveled about 70 per cent of the road, but not between El Leoncito and Uspallata. In any case, the scenery is beautiful on both sides, so you can only expect more beautiful sceneries... Calingasta is North of Uspallata, and therefore going towards Uspallata the Andes will always be on the right-hand side. Keep this in mind because since you will be travelling on a bus you should get a seat in the right-hand side when travelling from Barreal to Uspallata. And if you are coming from Uspallata to Barreal, on the right-hand side. Getting from Calingasta to Barreal is no problem, since the traffic vans normally have empty seats because passengers coming from San Juan get off at Calingas...Read More
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The road from Calingasta to Barreal gives you a clear picture of the importance of irrigation. Where there is water, there is life. Where there is no irrigation, everything seams dead. Along this road we see completely different elements: low hills modeled by erosion, the typical Andean desert, irrigated areas and the Andes in the background. We see some beautiful plantations, mostly of walnuts, but garlic is extensively cultivated also, enjoy the scenery of the Río de los Patos (Ducks river), the irrigated valley and the mountains. We stop at El Alcázar, (the fortress) a natural formation product of wind and water erosion, that forms a sort of amphitheater in the rocks. We also pass thr...Read More