We left Puerto Deseado
and the seashore to set out on a tour heading for the mountain range and the most important fossil site in Argentina. Reaching Jaramillo petrified forest also ensures memorable attractions on the way.
We went on a land excursion that let us enjoy a wild scene in the Patagonian high plateau and photograph whatever crossed our way. Our guide gave us a detailed account of the unusual petrified forest our eyes were about to see.
This monkey-puzzle tree forest dates back from the Jurassic Period. Weather conditions 150 million years ago gave life to it when the winds from the Pacific Ocean reached this area without any obstacles for the Andes Mountain Range had not been formed yet. Later on, a strong volcanic explosion gave origin to the famous formation and buried all wildlife under the ash.
As we listened to this interesting explanation, we were approaching estancia La Paloma
, where we made a stop to have a snack. This is a wonderful site to spend the day, as it provides services and fire pits. Afterwards, we covered another 25 kilometers along a gravel road and slowly got to the paleontological site.
Once there, we met the park ranger, who took us on his truck to our destination and helped us understand the miracle of petrification.
'How can I give a simple explanation of why the logs we see today have that color and structure? Well, after getting covered by ash following the volcanic explosion, the emerging silicon salts penetrated the vegetable tissue, aided by the rain, and gave origin to a mineral inorganic matter in each log, in each tree' he said.
'The mountain range emerged, the sea water entered the land and the glaciation processes in combination with the strong winds gave shape to the surface of this area and left the trees turned into rock in the open air', he continued.
As observers, it was impossible for us to imagine and measure what nature took thousands of years to transform. We had some pictures of ourselves taken while standing next to those huge logs in order to give evidence of their size. They were in excellent preservation condition. Some of them were lying on the ground and others were still standing. Several of them can reach thirty meters of length and boast a two-meter diameter.
Ever since 1925, geologists have been discovering and studying these fossil logs. However, it was not until May, 1954 that this national reserve was created. Men became aware of their scientific significance and the area was declared Natural Monument.
We had to abide by the instructions provided by the guide at all times, as painstaking efforts are made to take care of this space. Of course, it is forbidden to pick up anything from the ground.
Before we left, we had one last view at the whole set and admired the fact that these logs had not been scattered apart due to natural actions. In spite of the temperature and the natural features, they may be observed as a compact set.
Duration: All day
How to get here: Leave Puerto Deseado and travel 256 kilometers towards the southwest. Go past the Districts of Jaramillo and Fitz Roy, and then take National Routes 281 and 3 heading south (both of them are paved).
After covering 70 kilometers, turn into Provincial Route 49 (made of gravel) and travel 50 kilometers more towards the reserve.
Bear in mind: Access is free of charge and open hours are strict: from 10am to 8pm. There is a camping site but there are no services and it is not allowed to stay overnight in the area. The excursion includes a lunch box and snack.