Sierra de la Ventana

Published: April 22nd 2005
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Hey all,

We´ve made another stop on the way to "La Capital Federal". We´re in Sierra de la Ventana, a small town near some of the oldest mountains in South America. Depending on which source you believe, the mountains are either about 2 billion years (guidebook) or 260 million years (park). Someone´s grasp of the base ten number system seems to be questionable.

Sierra de la Ventana is in the Pampas Region of Argentina. The town is named after a mountain,Cerro Ventana, that has a ¨window¨in it. The mountains were created through sedimentation and uplifting. What is now the Ventana used to be the opening of a cave. The rest of the cave fell away, leaving just the opening.

Thus, with the window being so popular, we had to hike up to it. The hike was quite short, less than 6 km round trip, but was very, very rocky and steep (climbs about 700m). The hike to the top took over 2 hours. Plus, it was the infernal temperature of almost 75*F. (Up until Bahia Blanca, we had not had any day of our trip above 60*F). The hike had very nice views of the surrounding pastizal pampeño (pampas grassland)from the top.

The guy at the park ofice was surprised when we told him that we did not see any wildlife on the hike. He said horses and guanacos usually hang around near the top. He was very friendly and informative, telling us about the local fauna and flora that is protected in the Parque Regional Ernesto Tornquist.

Here in town, we stayed in a cabaña. They are very popular in Argentina. It was like staying in our own mini apartment. We had a kitchen-dining room with tv, stove, microwave, fridge; private bath; bedroom; and parking (for our imaginary car).

Today we are waiting around town for our 9:30 pm train to Buenos Aires. We are basically just killing time. We had wanted to visit the local estancia and go horseback riding, but they are full hosting a quince (like sweet sixteen, but at 15 years and a much bigger deal). So far today, we have spent two hours in the park reading with the dogs, had our US$3.50 lunch, and are now here.

Compared to the beginning of our trip (Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia), this area is much more economical. Our rooms are now ranging between US$13-$20 a night. Meals are running between US$5-$7 for two. Though this can vary significantly. If one goes to a nice restaurant, dinner can still run around US$17 (trout and wild boar in Bariloche). In Monte Hermoso, we went to a local restraurant where we got fish and steak for only US$6.

Transportation can still be (relatively) expensive. An overnight bus for about 12 hours runs about US$20-25 per person. But at least you don´t have to get a hotel room. We´re curious to see what the train will be like. It is about one-third the price of the overnight buses to BA, but does not take too much longer. Ten to twelve hours versus eight to nine hours. Plus, you get to walk around and hang out in the dining car on the train.

Some more random thoughts: Smoking is much more socially acceptable here than in California. People smoke everywhere---restaurants, internet cafes (the guy next to us is smoking), buses (even with "No Smoking" signs), hotels, everywhere.

100% fruit juice is hard to come by. Most of the juices are from concentrate and contain only about 10% fruit juice. Powdered juice beverages are quite popular, but contain sugar AND artificial sweetener as well as "flavoring identical to the natural flavoring of ..." AND artificial flavoring.

Many food products are available in plastic pouches of varying sizes. Milk, yogurt, jam, olives, mayonnaise, mustard to name a few. This is the most economical and sometimes the only way (in the case of olives) to purchase these. You can pay extra for a carton or jar or simply refill the container you have at home.

Meat is plentiful. Vegetables not so much. Salads have mainly been some variation on potato, beet, or lettuce & tomato (3 main types). Though, we´ve been cooking about one-quarter of the time and buying produce to satisfy our California-fied palates.

That´s it for now.


Additional photos below
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22nd April 2005

It's as beautiful as I remember it!
I lived in Argentina for five years. I was born and raised in Chicago. - Lynda
8th March 2006

Sierra de la Ventana's Age
I guess 2 billion years is a more accurate figure. Saludos desde Buenos Aires. ;)
30th November 2006

Best wishes
I am from Argentina, I have travelled all over the country and now im heading new zealand. Hope you had a great time here. All the best.
2nd December 2006

It is not "View of the pastizal pampeño" it is "View of the pastizal PAMPEANO" Thanks to show our natural beautys on your page!!! Otro guiño desde Buenos Aires ;o)

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