Parque Nacional El Leoncito

Parque Nacional El Leoncito

Parque Nacional El Leoncito
4.5

Top ways to experience Parque Nacional El Leoncito and nearby attractions

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.


4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles412 reviews
Excellent
242
Very good
150
Average
16
Poor
3
Terrible
1

Toeme
Zurich, Switzerland22 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2011 • Friends
This national park is quite off the popular tourist track and that alone made us want to visit it. It's not too easy to find tour operators / guides from Mendoza, even though everyone says that the road from Mdz through Uspallata to El Leoncito must be quite amazing. We started from San Juan. Main difference being that the road from SJ towards north and then south-west is first class, thanks to a number of mining companies situated in that region between the pre- and central cordilleras. Still was quite a drive. All in all you need to reserve one day for a visit.
The drive from SJ is fantastic. The landscape is extremely colorful, the precordillera hard to beat when it comes to the beauty of desert mountain ranges. After more than an hour the valley will open up in front of you, making the view free on what's quite the sight: the main cordillera of the Andes. Down towards south you'll see the almighty Aconcagua in the far distance. But in fact, you'll be standing right in front of a mountain range of several 6000+ meter high giants, including the 6700 m high Mercedario, itself No. 8 of the highest peaks of South America. A formidable wall, considering you're just standing just about 1500 meters above sea level!
As deserted as the area seems at first, it's clearly not. Some rivers flowing between the mountain ranges provide enough water to let the residents of Calangista, Tamberias and Barreal turn the desert into lush green gardens. Farming is growing, as is viticulture. Still, the villages are small and original. There's a number of hostals and small hotels in Barreal, though we could only find a small percentage of them on the web. Surely the area would offer enough quiet, nature and Andes sights to make it desirable to stay a couple of days, ideal e.g. for long-term backpackers.
The national park itself was errected to protect the area from light pollution. The sparsely populated area, dry air and little to no clouds made it a great spot for some space observatories. One of those can be visited with a guided tour (spanish only). The area around the observatory offers some small tracks with signs explaining history and nature of the area. We got to see wild guinnea pigs, vicuñas, vultures and lots of other birds. The desert up there is remarkably full of life!
Bellow the observatories lies La Pampa del Leoncito, an ancient, dry lake. It may not be much more than a huge, flat plain of clay. But standing on it under the burning sun, gazing at the massive peaks next to me, astonished by the mirage and the deep blue sky, I hardly ever felt so free, satisfied and humbled by the sheer beauty of the world.
All that said, El Leoncito is an amazing area to visit. The sights are breathtaking and they start hours before the actual national park. Highly recommended!
Written January 24, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michael W
Brisbane, Australia112 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2016 • Friends
This remote but beautiful park is a 20 minute drive south from Barreal. Do not miss it! Access is free, and it is worth spending a full day exploring the beautiful walk. A 5 kilometre walk, of moderate difficulty and well signed, takes you to the summit of Cerro Leoncito, from where you have the best view of the Andes, both west and east! Take your own food and water, and rug up in Winter, for this great experience. Every new corner and every hill hill provides a new vista!
A short drive to the astronomic observatory is worth the small cost for entry (under 2USD). Not a spectacular experience in the daytime, but interesting for the explanation (Spanish only) by an academic from the university of San Juan on the joint program conducted here with Yale University. And a small museum of their work from the 1960s. We heard of fantastic night viewing in the old telescope, but night cloud prevented us from enjoying that opportunity.
Travelling with a Spanish speaking academic, who knew both astronomy and geology, enhanced our visit. But don't be deterred if you don't have one of these in your party! It is just as beautiful.
If you have time, also drive about 20kms north of Barreal, where there is a small side track to the east of the road, leading (less than 1 km) to a dead end. From here, there ISQ short climb to some of the most beautiful rock formations to see.
Barreal is a geological and environmental gem, probably lost to most Argentinians, let alone the rest of the world. We were lucky enough to see its beauty!
Written July 14, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ThePolymathGirl
Buenos Aires, Argentina18 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2014 • Family
See the sky with your nude eye as you have never seen it! We all loved the evening visit to the observatory, all the explanations and telescope-viewing are great but the most wonderful experience was to see the sky bursting with stars. The guides make sure everybody finds something interesting in the visit, be it a kid or someone who takes astronomy as a hobby. Try to go on a week day since on weekend nights it is kind of crowded.
Written November 9, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TandTSwitzerland
Zurich, Switzerland1,141 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2021
Beautiful park with some nice hikes. You can choose between some short walks and longer more demanding hikes.the rangers are very friendly and helpful.
Written November 13, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Bezi
London, UK659 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
One of the best things is just getting here. The road from Upsalatta is unpaved for a large section and virtually straight all the way. On a good day you will get awesome views of Aconcagua, It will also give you an idea of what Mendoza is like without water as it is a virtual desert.
Anyway the park is fairly compact and when you stop at the ranger station (you have to stop) they will give you a small map that shows a waterfall you can walk to, which we did. I am sure there are other things to do but that was fine for us.
They told us that if we wanted to we could come back at sunset and see the observatory but we didn't because it was a full moon and it's quite a way from Barreal.
Written December 21, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Linn B
Tbilisi, Georgia19 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2016 • Friends
The national park of Leoncito will stun you with its scenery! With its vast pampa at the foot of the mountains, the little waterfall, the observatory and the beautiful view of the Andes it's a lovely place to visit if you are in Barreal or the valley of Calingasta. The entry is for free unlike most other national parks in Argentina, but you do need a car to get there.
Written November 22, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

rosannabertolini
Temecula, CA211 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2016 • Couples
People who take care of the place love their home and their job, they are proud to be from San Juan. The place is well care, views and landscape are awesome. The observatory must be visit at night with a clean sky and with moon at first or last quarter in order to appreciate stars with telescope. Professor Leppe shows you every thing about stars and planet even you don't know anything about it.
Written August 28, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Antonella M
Sorrento, Italy62 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2016 • Friends
After walking in the nature in the area, the sunset and night make this experience bellissima! I live in the other emisphere, and here, the sky is closer, and the stars shines more..it is the wildest place I ever saw......magic and romantic, plus guided tour top level!
Written April 28, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ACM0101
Pilar, Argentina83 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2015 • Family
At night amazing place to see the milky way and easy to spot shooting stars.
During day time this is a nice place for trekking, explore local flora and enjoy a pic-nic under the trees.
Across over the other side of the main road in "La Pampa del Leoncito" you can go on wind sail karts where Rogelio and his daughters will take you for a ride or you can have a go at learning and trying it by yourself but there is always a risk of an overturn.
Written February 15, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Wojtek N
Bardufoss, Norway88 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2019
It is said that it can be cloudy during daytime but in the evening... magic hand take clouds of the sky.
It is true! and due to that in Leoncito there is more than 300 clear nights in the year.
You can see telescopes and if you are lucky as we were you will listen to the best explanation of how the observatory works and what it is all about - thanks to Cachi and Pepe!!!
Written July 14, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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