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Eerie shapes carved by the elements are a feature of Ischigualasto Provincial Park, a massive geological area of canyons and desert.

Looking like something from a surrealist painting by Salvador Dali, the wind-eroded sandstone sculptures rise from the arid desert floor, surrounded by cacti and red rock cliffs.

Some of the oldest known dinosaur remains and most complete Triassic fossils have been found in these Argentine badlands, revealing links between the dinosaurs and early mammals. Some of the fossils found have been up to 180 million years old.

The desert landscape is also known as the Valley of the Moon, its petrified tree trunks and fossil ferns proof of a more fertile period in its history.

The rich fossil remains from 45 million years ago have led to the park being included on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Practical Info

Ischigualasto is in San Juan province, near the Chilean border in Argentina’s northwest.

A 40km (25-mile) route winds through the park, taking around three hours including time to walk around, stopping from time to time to take in the eerie landscape. Guides are on hand to provide essential background to your glimpse of the Triassic period.

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