Parque Nacional Talampaya

Top choice in Catamarca & La Rioja

The spectacular rock formations and canyons of this dusty desert national park are evidence of the erosive creativity of water. The sandstone cliffs are amazing, as are the distant surrounding mountainscapes. You must enter by guided visit, arranged at the visitors center. The standard 2½-hour trip is included with your entrance fee. You'll be ferried in comfortable minibuses and there’s little walking involved; nevertheless, take water and protection from the fierce sun.

For a little extra, you can extend the visit to another nearby canyon or do the route on the roof of a truck. Guided walks (AR$300 to AR$500) and trips on bicycles (AR$400) are also available; more appealing ways of exploring if the heat’s not too intense, though you'll still likely have to pay for transport into the park if you arrive on foot. There are often night excursions (AR$350) when there's a full moon. Be aware that the various excursions are operated by different companies, so it can be difficult to get complete information on what's available.