Talampaya National Park is one of the main tourist attractions in the province of La Rioja in Argentina. With an area of more than 2,000 km², the park is located in the heart of the Riojan desert and offers a spectacular view of rock formations dating back more than 250 million years. Some of the most famous are the "Catedral" and the "Monje", whose walls can reach heights of up to 150 m. In addition, Talampaya National Park is a natural habitat for a great variety of native animals such as guanacos, pumas, foxes, condors and eagles, among others. It also has a large number of plant species adapted to the arid climate of the region. In 2000 UNESCO declared Talampaya National Park and Ischigualasto Provincial Park as World Heritage of Humanity, due to its great geological and paleontological importance, since dinosaur remains and other prehistoric animals have been found in the park. The park can only be visited with authorized guides. There are several companies that offer tours and it can be difficult to know which one to choose, so here is a guide.
Talampaya National Park
The park has free parking and a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner.
It also has a camping area. The price in 2023 is $500 pesos per person, it has restrooms, showers and grills. The restaurant is open until 10 pm so it is also possible to have dinner there.
To enter the park, in addition to the excursion, you must pay the entrance fee. Here are the rates for 2023:
- National residents: $1000 ARS, if you are going to visit the park for 2 days you have to pay an additional $500 ARS.
- Children from 6 to 16 years old: $500 ARS
- General rate (foreigners): $3500 ARS (approx. 8 USD)
Hours of operation:
- Summer season: 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- Winter season: 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Vehicle excursions through the Talampaya Canyon
The concessionaire company in charge of the most popular vehicle excursions in Talampaya Provincial Park is Volterra. They offer four different circuits:
- Talampaya Canyon: This is the most famous tour, in which the main attractions of the park are visited and lasts about 2 hours and a half. During the tour, you can appreciate the petroglyphs, the botanical garden, the gothic cathedral and the monk.
- Talampaya Canyon + Balcones: This circuit is more complete and has a duration of 4 hours. Besides including the same as the previous excursion, a short trek to the Talampaya balconies is added. For those who like walking, this option is the best.
- Talampaya Canyon + Shimpa Canyon: Unlike the previous ones, this tour is done in an overland truck, in which the top floor is convertible. Besides including the same route as the first circuit, a short hike through the Shimpa Canyon is added. We chose this option because of the convertible truck idea, but in reality, you are not allowed to go upstairs all the way, only in some parts of the route. Besides, we conclude that if you like walking, the circuit that includes the balconies is much more interesting than the Shimpa canyon.
- Nature and culture of Talampaya: This is the shortest tour and only includes the petroglyphs stop.
In conclusion, to know the Talampaya Canyon, the one you see in all the pictures of the place, you can choose between any of the first three circuits. If you are able to walk, for us the best and most complete is the Talampaya Canyon + Balcones.
Hiking in the Talampaya Canyon
These excursions are offered by different tourism agencies.
- Talampaya Canyon: This low difficulty trekking takes 3 hours and you will visit the petroglyphs and the botanical garden where the echo chimney is located. This excursion allows you to walk along a homonymous river between cliffs of approximately 150 meters.
- Quebrada de Don Eduardo: Also of low difficulty and with a duration of 3 hours. In this circuit you cross a narrow ravine surrounded by high walls. You can see geological formations similar to those of the Talampaya canyon, but on a smaller scale.
- The great viewpoint: This circuit, also of low difficulty, offers a different experience, which is to enjoy a panoramic view of the park from a hill.
If you want to book any of these excursions, you can do it from this page.
4. Full moon night excursion: If you go on a full moon date you can't miss the opportunity to walk through the Talampaya Canyon under the moonlight. Remember to book it in advance here.
It is also possible to tour the Talampaya Canyon by bicycle by hiring an excursion. The total distance is 19km and it takes 3 and a half hours.
Rainbow Canyon Area
Talampaya National Park is huge and the best known sector is the Talampaya Canyon, but there is another one called Cañón del Arco Iris (Rainbow Canyon) that has two equally impressive options for visits. These tours are provided by the guide cooperative.
- Rainbow Canyon: It is a one and a half hour hike where you cross a canyon and observe the different shades of the minerals that make up the walls. They range from red to yellow, passing through green and violet.
- Ciudad Perdida: This is a slightly longer hike, where you can see a bit of the rainbow canyon and reach a part where you can see rock formations that simulate a set of tall buildings.
The entrance to this sector is 15 km from the entrance of Talampaya National Park on route 76 (put Cañón Arco Iris and Ciudad Perdida on google maps). During the whole visit you will be accompanied by a guide who will tell you a lot of information about the place. They only accept cash and is open from 9 am to 5 pm. It is not necessary to book in advance, the groups are assembled as people arrive (minimum number per group is 4 people).