"San Juan Province" Provincia de San Juan by GentleSpirit

Provincia de San Juan Travel Guide: 69 reviews and 110 photos

The charms of San Juan Province

My travel agent in Argentina thought I was absolutely crazy when I insisted that San Juan had to be a stop on my first trip back to Argentina. Most tourists would go to neighboring Mendoza province.

I was determined to see Ischigualasto and Talampaya Parks, each having amazing rock formations and significant finds in the field of paleontology. In fact, Ischigualasto yielded some of the oldest complete skeletons yet found, one being the eoraptor lunensis. Both parks far exceeded my expectations.

San Juan is well off the beaten track. Most travel agents will try to sell you on going to Mendoza, which is the province next door. Its remoteness is both a huge advantage and disadvantage at the same time. Because it hasn't been touched by large scale tourism it provides a much more genuine experience. At the same time it provides relatively fewer creature comforts for the visitor. I found the warmth of the locals and the quality of the attractions more than enough to compensate.

San Juan Province- An overview

San Juan Province is located in the Cuyo region of Argentina, the west of the country. It is about 89,651 km squared, so about the size of Portugal and had a population of about 651,000. Because of the climate, the majority of the population is concentrated around the oases.

San Juan has traditionally been one of the less developed provinces in the country. The vast majority of its income comes from substantial production of good wines, fruit and olives. Recently, however, significant mining and exploration for oil is going on near the Andes. For example, the Veladero mine in Iglesia county produces gold, enough to account for 23% of the provinces GDP. Though there is substantial opposition from locals, the high price of gold and the enormous revenue to the Province might well change the equation totally.

For tourists this is a wonderful, off the beaten path place. My personal focus for San Juan was the amazing richness of paleontology at Ischigualasto. There are also significant opportunities for mountain climbing, wind surfing.
Since the tourist infrastructure is not as developed, you will likely find that prices will be lower and services might be more scarce than in other places. Don't let that stop you from visiting, please!

The Journey around the province

I arrived on a flight from Aeroparque. I had asked for an early flight, but when I got to the airport I had to wonder if I would make it on time since the hall was packed with people going to Mendoza.

My travel agent had arranged a few days in San Juan. From the airport we would go to Valle Fertil, which would be our base. The first day we would go see Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), the next we would go to Talampaya National Park, which is in neighboring La Rioja Province.

I was met at the airport by Carlos from a travel outfit called Valley Moon. He was a bit surprised that I wanted to visit during the week (just coincidence actually) as most of the visitors he dealt with came from Buenos Aires for the weekend. He didn't know I could speak Spanish, so he told me he had been very nervous since he didn't use english as much as he wanted. We hit it off well and had a great time for the next few days.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:fabulous weather, paleontology, Ischigualasto Park, the locals!!!
  • Cons:lack of infrastructure, poor transportation links
  • In a nutshell:"the heat was hot and the ground was dry, but the air was full of sound"- a horse with no name
  • Last visit to Provincia de San Juan: Nov 2005
  • Intro Updated Dec 15, 2012
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Reviews (9)

Comments (1)

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Nov 8, 2012 at 3:20 AM

    I am impressed with your knowledge of prehistoric dinosaurs and your interest in them, esp the Eoraptor.


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