Saturday, 7 April 2007

830 Cones

On Tuesday I head south from Mendoza to the small down of Mallague. Following the Andes to the west, the road past the famous vineyards that surround Mendoza, up into scrubland that reminded me of the American west. Straight roads, empty of traffic, heading endlessly to the horizon. The feeling of being in cowboy land was strong, as Mallague turned out to be a one street town.

The main reason for coming here was to visit the Payunia national park. Here there is the greatest concentration of volcanic cones of anywhere on the planet. 830 all in all. The park is dominated by the white cone at the centre of the park, and surrounded by endless small cinder cones. It was quite spectacular.

The jiurney down to the park was supberb aslo. Climbing through the Andean pre cordillera, with glimses of the snow capped peaks here and there was quite stunning. The road was mainly dirt track, so although Payunia is only 100km south of Mallague, the journey took 3 bone shaking hours. With gorgeous scenery and vistas at every turn the bones were not complaining.

Geologists are still arguing about the age of this area. It sits separate to the Andes, and certainly appears quite recent (some say 4000 years old, others say much older) as the lava flows are quite visible, and black cinders and ashes cover most of the surface.

I love volcanoes so this day was a treat. Lunch was provided and even included a few cupfuls of Mendozan wine.