These two villages are about 18 miles away from the National Park. They are very quiet places for staying, and the scenery is beautiful. While Cuesta Blanca has only one hotel and one cabin complex, Icho Cruz offers more alternatives, including access to the Internet, phone cabins, good restaurants, and a number of cabin complexes. The San Antonio river goes through both villages, and Icho Cruz offers definitely the best alternative for camping and picnic, since there is shade by the riverside. Both villages have bus services to Villa Carlos Paz every twenty minutes (Transportes Carlos Paz and FonoBus). The buses that go through to Mina Clavero and the National Park (Ciudad de Córdoba and Coata) do not enter the villages but stop at the crossroads on the Altas Cumbres highway.
Occasionally some buses of Panaholma and SierraBus may stop to lift you, but normally they don't, unless you have bought a ticket previously in Cordoba city and advised them that you will board the bus here, which is not practical at all. Icho Cruz has a very nice picnic area on the river (Tala Huasi) with a lot of shade, horse rental, a nice beach for sunbathing, and beautiful banks on the river. You would have to be very fortunate to catch a trout in the river at Icho Cruz, but you do stand a fair chance upstream from the bridge on the San Antonio river at Cuesta Blanca, specially in the area of the river that is nearer to the dam. There are no restaurants in Cuesta Blanca, so if you go fishing there, take food with you. There is no camping area I am aware of near the river in Cuesta Blanca. Icho Cruz is the place for shade, bathing, and having a snack. There is abundance of small fish in the river, so if your child is fond of fishing, give it a try. Remember that at the Quebrada del Condorito National Park you need seven hours for the walk to and from the Balcony of the Condors, so if you want to go there you should leave early in the morning. I would not like to come back from the balcony when it is already dark; I could get lost and (what is worse) could tread a snake unawaringly or a puma could detect my presence in the darkness.
If you go to Cuesta Blanca, you will enjoy natural sceneries, and the walk up to the dam is a must. Beyond the dam, if you walk up the hill, you will have a panoramic view of the hippie beach and campgrounds, and looking back you will have a beautiful panoramic view of the village. Cuesta Blanca has at the very most 300 inhabitants, while Icho Cruz is ten times larger. They are two different styles of life. Icho Cruz is a middle-class village, while Cuesta Blanca is a premium area where rich people build their homes, all with beautiful parks. And if you have rented a car (the cost is about 35 dollars per day) you can drive beyond the main entrance to the national park on the Altas Cumbres highway and turn left in front of the road to the Namuncurá school. After some 4 miles you will cross a stream, and next to the stream there is a campground. You are inside the national park, where trout fishing is allowed (maximum catch 5 rainbow trout and 5 brook trout per day). Trout are small but you will enjoy fishing them. Just park your car and go fishing. Although there is no surveillance, it is a pretty safe area. And if you continue for another 3 miles, you will come to another stream, where fishing is still better. And if you continue along the Altas Cumbres highway, go some 10 miles beyond Mina Clavero, turn right at Las Tapias and go to Boca del Río, where you can fish very nice 2 to 3-pound rainbow trout in the two artificial lakes (upstream and downstream from the dam). Remember, you need a fishing license, that you can buy at the fishing gear shops (2 dollars for one day or some 8 dollars for the whole year). The only place near the park where you can have a cup of coffee, eat a sandwich or buy a soft drink in the Fundación Condor Cafe. It has a beautiful photo gallery. Here is more information: A visit to this cafe and gallery gives you the opportunity of meeting Fabian Ramallo, the man that strived during twenty years to create the Quebrada del Condorito National Park. He had been a condor hunter and changed his attitude to being a conservationist after a remark of his child (read the Overview, where I give further details).
This is the only cafe near the Quebrada del Condorito National Park. It has a good cafeteria service, including sandwiches, an excellent panoramic view and a photo gallery of condors that seems a museum. In the evening they have what I would call a "live show". They offer meat placed on the end of a pole to a silver eagle that lives on the top of the foothill across the road, and the eagle comes down immediately and snatches the meat. The buses from Villa Carlos Paz to Mina Clavero (Ciudad de Cordoba) stop here some 20 minutes, so that you can have a coffee and go to the restroom.
Don't hang around: go out to the balcony to take good photos, watch the sky in case a condor is overflying (I once filmed one there) and have a look at the beautiful photo gallery. I took photos of some of the pictures that impressed me most, and have posted them below.
Make the most of the 20 minutes you will be there. And if you drive to the National Park, park your car here, and they will drive you to the park. Leaving the car at the entrance of the park is very risky. Thieves know you will be away for at least 6 hours while you walk to the balcony of the condors. Don't take any risks...
It is important to know that this is the best place to leave your rented car since the owners can keep an eye on it. They usually offer transportation to the entrance of the park, and I even believe they would be allowed to enter the park and drive up to the national park offices; I assume they have the padlock key to enter, since Fabian Ramallo was the "author" of this initiative, and persisted 22 years until the national park was created. He did all the landmarking inside the park, and is very familiar with each corner inside it. They will only charge you two or three dollars for this transportation and that will reduce walking time. Cordoba has a lot to offer you at affordable prices, keep it in mind for your next trip to Argentina.