Banda Florida and The Petroglyphs

These huge formations make us feel small when we walk amidst them. They are unique, both at dawn and at dusk.

Like everything surrounding Villa Unión, Banda Florida is nestled within an area of low hills featuring a strong reddish hue. The wind, the rivers and the rain have been changing its shape for centuries.

We reached this small colorful population boasting houses made of adobe to meet with a group of very young local guides. They usually escort visitors who wish to learn the secrets of the area. Thus, we came across Paola and Adriana, who took us down to see the town and the spot called La Isla (The Island). We even crossed the Suri by car.

We had not gone too far when we found a spot where we could park and then start hiking along the dry river bed. It showed a strange greenish shade. Later on, we took a rocky hillside with a strong reddish tone. The well-marked contrast of colors, which also includes some almost black stones, is due to the presence of various kinds of minerals that make up the layers of the ground and unveil the different periods of the Paleozoic Era and even of the Triassic, in the Mesozoic Era. Everything looks like Talampaya National Park, but the proportions are much smaller and the vegetation scarcer. We noticed the silence but also the sound of the wind. Both sensations were really pleasant.

  • Colorful population boasting houses made of adobe

    Colorful population boasting houses made of adobe

  • Low hills featuring a strong reddish hue

    Low hills featuring a strong reddish hue

  • Represent human beings, animals and suns

    Represent human beings, animals and suns

  • Everything looks like Talampaya National Park

    Everything looks like Talampaya National Park

  • Cultures known as Aguada and Ciénaga

    Cultures known as Aguada and Ciénaga

  • Prior to the Diaguitas

    Prior to the Diaguitas

  • Make us feel small

    Make us feel small

As we walked around, we heard about life in the town, its few settlers and its houses always inhabited by the same families. Their economy is based on products from their vineyards. They sell grapes to small local wineries. They also sell canned fruit and jam. Items made of wood, cardón, pottery and woven products are offered for sale at the tourist cooperative and at handicrafts market located opposite the square.

Some figures with strange shapes carved in the rock appeared on the way. Some of them were bent, whimsical. We felt enthusiastic about reaching the petroglyphs. Once we got there, we saw a huge smooth stone resembling a school board. Then we saw the carvings. The drawings represent human beings, animals and suns. In spite of being out in the open air and having undergone countless earthquakes, they remain immovable. Adriana told us: “Our grandparents showed us those figures and wove stories related to the cultures known as Aguada and Ciénaga, prior to the Diaguitas”.

We started our way back and found another overhang with carvings, known as El Puerto (The Port). A little before reaching the town, we got past a natural amphitheater carved in the mountain. The traditional festivals of Banda Florida, like the Vineyard Worker Festival, the Chaya Festival and Tradition Day, are held there on a stage that has been specially prepared for such occasions.

Before bidding farewell, we learned about the activities carried out in mountain circuits. Besides the typical hiking tours, there are ATV and bicycle rides available to go around the area. Helmets and vests are provided and certain regulations are specially watched to protect the surrounding environment.

In a matter of two hours, we enjoyed a village with chañares, vineyards and incredible unspoilt hills. We noticed the particular interest young people take in showing what they have known best ever since they were small kids.

Autor Mónica Pons Fotografo Eduardo Epifanio

Contact of the excursion or tour

Cooperativa Runamayu

Castro Barros s/n – Banda Florida, Villa Unión, La Rioja, Agentina

Cell phone Cell phone: +54 3825-663790

How to get hereHow to get here: National Route 76 leads to National Route 40. Then head for Guandacol and Mendoza. Turn right into a dirt road four hundred meters after the bridge over the Bermejo River. Banda Florida lies 15 kilometers away.
This site may also be accessed from downtown Villa Unión, by crossing a ford and a footbridge over the Bermejo River. (Check in advance.)
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