The Valley of Punilla is located in Argentina into the Cordoba province, the center of the country. Is a 70 km long area between two chain of mountains and splitted in Punilla North and South. In this trip we took care of the North section of the Valley from Valle Hermoso to Capilla del Monte. You can arrive by plane to Cordoba city, and then take a bus "La Calera" to any of these cities .
WEATHER: Dry and hot. Rain some on summer. Daily temperature during summer: 37º. Temperature during winter: 20º. Cold on night.
ACTIVITIES: Paragliding, rappel, rock climbing, horse riding, bird watching, trekking, fishing, 4 x 4 tours, photo safaris, mountain bike, UFO sighting.
ACCOMMODATION: You get plenty options from U$S 20 to U$S 100 daily per double bedrooms. See Tourist info section for further details.
PHONE: phone and internet is everywhere. Local area code is: 03548 + phone, and internationally: 54 + 3548 + phone
VALLE DE CALAMUCHITA
Capilla del Monte
Invited by the Tourist Officer of the city of Valle Hermoso, Mr. Jorge Martinez, the area shows me mainly two important activities. One is the stone process of recovering stones and marble used in building activity. The "Mine Tour" as they call it, to this experience is a half a day tour where you will be guided by a couple of geologists and stone experts.
The Valle Hermoso area, used to be one of the most important marble producers of Argentina , working since the year 1900, these rocks were formed 500 million years ago. The quality of the stones here are well known worldwide, compared with the ones from Carrara in Italy.
If you like this kind of tours, where you will have the opportunity to find and discover by yourself the hole process of obtaining marble or if you are a geologist student you will enjoy this tour very much. It is quite interesting. Take a hat with you cause if you go during afternoon is very sunny.
The second activity we tried in this city was a ride in 4 x 4 quads. Guided by Marcelo of " Sport Quad" thru a track way beside a small mountain and the Cosquin river witch we crossed several times, the landscape was just wonderful only disturbed by the sound of our engines.
The tour we did, took a couple of hours, most precisely 3 hs and a half for U$S 35 , but you can take a complete 4 x 4 day tour through mountain tracks for U$S 100 or even several days adventure packages that include visiting Jesuit sites or "Estancias" were you have meals, accommodation and all the necessary equipment included, meanwhile you go discovering the nature of the local valleys, tracks and mountains.
The experience was amazing and the available 4 x 4 quads are huge Polaris 500 cc with the power enough to cross rivers, climb rocks or go for heavy off road tracks.
La Falda city is some kind unique, and with the valley, it was one of the first touristy places from Cordoba. You can see this in the buildings and hotels, with a style from the Spanish colonization times or the 50´s decade.
It has these original activities like the cave we visited. This Cave is close downtown, even though to get there you need a 4 x 4 vehicle cause on our way we were on the same trail of the World Rally that takes place here. Guided by Sebastian Ceballos, the owner of the land where the cave Los Sauces is, and Freddy the Tourist Officer of La Falda and local guide of all Cordoba, the experience was really cool.
Sebastian will guide you, inform you and assist you every step through the cave. This was the very first time I went into a Cave, deep as 25 meters down and it required very good fitness, not allowed for people with heart problems or fear to closed places, because some areas inside the cave are quite narrow, but the rocks formations you can see are beautiful. "You should not let the tree block your view" Sebastian says if he sees you are are a bit worried.
The temperature inside the cave is of 17 degrees by day and by night, humid and a bit cold. You can't recognize what time of the day is when you are inside. And also if you are up or down, cause you are passing through the wholes of a cheese as Sebastian says in a comic way. There are some water drops that form underground reefs that took thousands of years do so. And the tunnels have every different form, rounded wholes, long, narrow, one is called the key and the form is of the eye where the key goes. You will need a special helmet and clothes and a head torch to wear but relax, Sebastian will take care of that and will provide you with everything you need. This wonderful experience may last for 1 1/2 hours to 3 hours if you are more curios and anxious and it costs just U$S 15 per person including transport and a meal at his farm and you should book in advance for that. Contact Mr. Sebastian Ceballos at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On our way back we stopped at Piedras Grandes as its name says, really isolated big stones like if someone had put it there , near some Indian Comechingones homes made inside rocks. And we had some fun at the Siete Cascadas (Park of the seven waterfalls) were you can spend the day bathing at natural pools and streams..
But La Falda has everything for almost anyone. There is a Casino, and the Tango Festival of La Falda takes place once a year one of the most important in the country. The city has 15000 people living.
And another activity we had tried was mountain biking. The bike is a wonderful vehicle to move on the area, visit the neighborhoods around, or some incredible and old places and hotels like the famous "El Eden Hotel", a historical monument place visited by Albert Einstein and many famous.
Guided by Freddy Nieto, local guide who knows each corner of La Falda, we took a biking tour thru many wild tracks and we climbed "The Banderita hills" from where you can have a wonderful view of all the Punilla Valley.
This biking tour took us something like 2 hs and a half but you can take shorter or even longer rides of a day.
Freddy will prepare that for you. If you want to contact him for guidance mail to: email@example.com
Villa Giardino is called "The Garden city of the Punilla Valley". It is the most residential area in the Valley and here you can find mostly new houses because of its recent increase in population, 6000 people. The city is small, clean and beautiful. There is a “Vivero Municipal” dedicated exclusively to produce plants, flowers and trees to decorate public gardens, streets and boulevards. An ecological consciousness has been developed among its people to select toxic trash from organic so as to recycle plastic, and recover the organic wastes as “abono”. They were the first ones in Argentina to start this program and even nowadays it is not so common to see it.
Turism here is for families, some congresses occur during the year and also for resting and relax . There are very nice places to stay, like the "Estancia Alto San Pedro" from 1890 recycled in some parts and with a whole program of rural and sport activities.
Many houses are for vacations owned by people from Buenos Aires or Cordoba city, and there are a lot of comfortable lodges with swimming pool and other spa services.
There is a very good restaurant “Della Fontana” where you can have international food and typical meats from this region. Everyone who knows the place and happens to return to Villa Giardino or nearby will surely arrange to be here at lunch hour.
The best thing to have a "preview" of the city is to go to the tourist office, you have one beside the road when you arrive to Villa Giardino and the other at the bus station. Talk to Francisco Garcia, the Tourist Officer he will help you in what you are looking for.
You have many tracks to follow. One is the "Camino de los Artesanos", a walking tour for shopping where you can see and buy local handcraft, foods, paintings made by residents and sailed from their own houses. It goes from Villa Giardino to La Cumbre. George Micin, a famous painter has painted the beautiful Giardino´s landscapes.
Another traditional tour to visit is "El molino de Thea", an old fan with its waterfall to make it work, now only used as a private sighting place.
Also you can go up the mountain and visit “De La Merced Chapel”, a typical old Spanish church of the XVIII century with the most ancient colonial memorial of Cordoba. There are some native locals and slaves buried with the first population that arrived here. Then follow upwards and you will reach to the top of this mountain where you can have a complete view of the town.
The City name comes from a tree that grows all over the area. It is the highest town at the Punilla Valley, 1200 mts. above sea level. This is a more family place and the hotel service is attended by its owners as it happened to me at La Esperanza hotel, so you feel really comfortable.
Los Cocos is the "Disney city or the Valley with its unique fun tours.
Here you must have time for fun and entertainment !!!
There are play land parks with chair lifts, toboggans in the ladder of the mountain and a natural labyrinth, houses of mirror sand the monsters mansion.
It is quite original to find this place in the middle of the mountains but Cordoba has many of this entertainments for Argentinean families that visit the place during holidays.
A place you should visit is "El Descanso" (The Relax), made by an Italian guy who decided to live in Argentina, Los Cocos.
This funny place is a little park where you can find an small museum of the Roman times, many beautiful gardens, sculptures, a Muslim building and more.
CAPILLA DEL MONTE
This city of 10000 people is most famous locally and internationally for several reasons. Capilla del Monte is specialized in Relax spots, AdventureTurism, and UFO sighting. The Cerro Uritorco is one of the best places where UFOs are often seen if you are at the right moment.
This mountain of 1979 mts above sea level is said to be one of the chakras of the world. Its great amount of quartz rock concentration makes a special atmosphere full of energy that no doubt somehow everyone can feel it. It is said that Erk´s city for the regeneration of the human specie is hidden inside, and only those with great spirit can access.
Hector Antonio Picco, a serious writer and investigator, wrote for several years a magazine about people's experience with UFO´s and Aliens.
He has seen UfOs more than 50 times and says that the greater amount of UfOs are from the 70´s and -listen to this- mostly they come from the inner earth.
But the Uritorco experience is also to reach its top and plan to do it with time cause it takes around 4 hours to climb up and 3 to go through the river and other near mountains. For the more extreme ones are the side rock-walls of the mountain, special equipment required.
This is an activity I did in group, with Rodrigo, the tourism officer of Capilla del Monte (local guide and lover of his city) and friends doing it for the first time.
We went 7 km away from the city to “Los Paredones”, (The Big Walls). With Rodrigo's assistance and backup we had a spectacularly adrenaline moment climbing up using hands and feet only (though a security rope was holding us) and doing rappel to come down. Wow! Of course there are different degrees of difficulty all over the place, and the river is down there completing the scene
A more calm place to visit is the “Complejo El Zapato”
A sculpture naturally made of rock with the shape of a shoe, just between Uritorco, el Pajarito and Las Gemelas mountains and The Cajón dock .
Here was a meeting place of the tribes of the "Comechingones aboriginal", chiefs, and shamans .
On "Las Gemelas" (The twins) mountains you can practice paragliding arriving only by 4x4 quads or horses.
On other hand, there are also many spiritual therapies to do at Capilla del Monte.
There is a Zen Temple where Zazen meditations are at 7 am an 7 pm everyday. You can have a gems therapy or harmonize yourselves with a Reiki session and even spend a few days at a Spa to enlighten your soul. Lots of professionals of this areas have come to live here.
You may choose the type of hotel you want to stay cause there are many and different options and all of them are well recommended
The "Valle de Punilla" got many more wonderful thing to do and spots to visit. Also you can check on: www.emprenatur.com.ar for special tours or extra info or contact me any time.
Enjoy the trip, this area is just wonderful. Come on and discovered it, you will love it.
Mark Royo Celano.