Western Rioja Trips

The western portion of La Rioja province is fascinating, with plenty of intriguing destinations in the sierras. Parque Nacional Talampaya is one appealing trip, which also takes in the Parque Provincial Ischigualasto and (from Chilecito) crosses the picturesque Miranda pass. For some serious 4WD mountain action, head up to the abandoned mine at La Mejicana (4603m), an ascent blessed with amazing mountain scenery and a broad palette of colors, including a striking yellow river. Deeper into the sierras by the Chilean border is sizable Laguna Brava, a flamingo-freckled lake set among the Andes' beautiful desolation. Higher still, at 5600m, is the remote sapphire-blue crater lake of Corona del Inca, only accessible in summer.

Operators in Chilecito such as Salir del Cráter and Cuesta Vieja run trips here, which cost from US$100 to US$400 for up to four people.