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Valle de Calingasta’s northernmost village is Calingasta, which in the local Huarpe dialect means “Cacique Calin’s settlement.” Little remains of that culture, or of the major Inca road that passed through the valley’s length. That camino incaico is what led Spaniards to this desert oasis in the early 18th century. General José de San Martín and his Liberation Army stayed here in 1817, before making the Andean crossing to Chile. Domingo Faustino Sarmiento hid out in the church, on his way to exile in the neighboring republic, in 1831.

Calingasta was a center of wheat production and milling, and later, of apples and sidra (hard cider). Since the beginning of the millennium, gold exploitation is the new economic hope. A technical school is open and many hotels booked long-term by the company.

Tourists can spend a pleasant few hours in Calingasta, visiting historical sites and hiking. On one corner of Plaza Patricias Sanjuaninas is the Unión Vecinal’s Museo Arqueológico. This one-room museum displays artifacts found in the area, including two mummies, and photographs of excavations (daily 8 a.m.-1 p.m., 4-8 p.m. Cantoni and Sarmiento, Tel: 42-1043. Entry: Free).

Across the Plaza, a sign points north to sights along Calle Aniceto Tinto. The Jesuit Capilla Nuestra Señora del Carmen (1739) is one of the oldest in the valley (200 m / 650 ft). Doña Cora Esquivel has the key (Cartoni s/n, blue house facing the Plaza). This former teacher is a fount of knowledge about the region’s history. Her family knew San Martín and Sarmiento. Calle A Tinto continues past the chapel to Cerro El Morado, which has petroglyphs on its sides (1 km / 0.6 mi).

Cerro Calvario, on the southeast edge of town, is a pilgrimage for San Roque on August 16. The night before, a vigil is held at the small chapel at the hill’s base and the next day a procession goes to the top. The mount has spectacular views of the valley and mountains. A longer trek is to Alkazar, 15 kilometers (9 mi) south. This excursion must be done with a guide, which can only be hired in Barreal. Fishing at Calingasta is excellent, as it is at the confluence of the Castaño and Calingasta Rivers into Río Los Patos.

(Altitude: 1,515 m / 4,970 ft, Population: 2,039, Phone Code: 02648)


All services are along Avenida Argentina: tourism office (daily 9 a.m.-1 p.m., 3-9 p.m. At Ruta Nacional 149), police (Tel: 42-1022), ATM, hospital (Tel: 42-1012), phone, post office.


Camping Municipal (500 m / 0.3 mi north of plaza)—$1.50 per tent

Hospedaje Doña Chita (Confitería La Nieves, Av Argentina s/n, Tel: 155-094-463)—$8.50 per person

Hotel Nora (Cantoni s/n, Tel: 42-1027)—single $21, double $29


Restaurant La Capilla (Av Argentina s/n)

Resto-Bar Homero (CantĂłn s/n, Tel: 42-1027)

Quincho El Nevado (Av Argentina s/n)


Other places nearby Calingasta: Barreal,

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

09 Nov 2010

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