Anchumbil and Its Pictograms

The ravine is known as Pequeño Talampaya (Small Talampaya), as it resembles the colors, shapes and structures of its famous big brother.

We did not get too far away from Villa Unión in order to explore Anchumbil Canyon. We traveled back in time and were dazzled by a different scene: a strange rocky set that shelters cave paintings.

Víctor Reinoso, a local guide, escorted us along a dirt road. After crossing several fords, with barely any water, the color of the soil became more reddish. The vegetation was almost nonexistent.

Our hike started on a sandy area featuring an intense pink hue, which was uniform because of its iron oxide content. We stopped to see the first geological forms and then headed for the area where the pictograms are located. Printed in a semicircular fashion under an overhang, we could observe the figures described by Víctor. We saw a family with their animals and other silhouettes that would probably represent their chamanes. All of them were painted on the rock with natural tinges. It was incredible that they should have been preserved even after such a long time. According to studies, they were painted by the Diaguitas approximately 900 years ago.

  • Nature has made a miracle

    Nature has made a miracle

  • A different scene

    A different scene

  • All of them were painted on the rock with natural tinges

    All of them were painted on the rock with natural tinges

  • They were painted by the Diaguitas

    They were painted by the Diaguitas

  • A geologic fault

    A geologic fault

  • 280 million years old

    280 million years old

  • The last projection of that rocky scene

    The last projection of that rocky scene

After that point, we walked along a corridor with two very high side walls. We were speechless. Víctor said: “This is a geologic fault where two opposed parts are separated mirror-like by a divergence process. This is known as El Sartén (the Saucepan), a semi-circular space with freshwater falling continuously from the Famatina. Taste it. It is delicious!"

He told us that singers usually come to this place to sing their tunes in the company of that never-ending rainfall background we could hear. There is an extremely special echo at this location which makes it a favorite choice among artists, according to Victor, who enjoys good music like most young local people.

The formations are distributed into layers and they date from the same geological period as those in Talampaya National Park and the Ischigualasto Basin. They are 280 million years old.

As we observed them and listened to the guide, it was impossible for us to imagine how many times these tectonic plates moved, collapsed and were eroded by the wind and the rain.

Yet another wonder of nature was awaiting us: Anchumbil Little Canyon, usually accessed either by bike or on horseback. The soil fetures changes from one meter to the next and the rock as well as the sand present a yellowish and pinkish shade. This is also a narrower canyon whose side walls boast natural drawings that seem to be embroidered on the rock. With a little imagination, we spotted the figure known as El Monjecito (the Little Monk), a formation resembling that in Talampaya but smaller.

As the tour was coming to an end, we looked back to take home the last projection of that rocky scene enhanced by the twilight tones.

Autor Mónica Pons Fotografo Eduardo Epifanio

Contact of the excursion or tour

Secretaría de Turismo Municipal

Joaquín V. Gonzalez Esq. Hipolito Irigoyen (5350) Villa Unión, La Rioja

Tel: +54 3825-470543

How to get hereHow to get here: It lies 8 kilometers away from the town and it is essential to visit this location in the company of a guide as there are no sign post to show the way to these formations.


Activities and tours in Villa Unión

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