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Villa Unión is a town in La Rioja, northwestern Argentina. The town is strategically located in the heart of the Bermejo Valley, 1,153 meters above sea level, at the foothills of the Andes mountains. Beautifully set amidst the intensely red mountain ranges of Sierra de Famatina and Sierra de Maíz, surrounded by local, traditional wineries and the Bermejo River passing, often brutally in the rainy season, through the town.

The weather is hot and rainy during the summer, January and February being the wettest months, while it's dry and cold during winter. As the soil can't easily get rid of the heavy rainfall, the area commonly floods during the rainy season. The area represents a typical climate of the mountain desert, with a soaring difference in temperatures between day and night. Villa Unión is affected by a climate phenomenon called the "Zonda wind"--a dry wind often carrying dust, which comes from the polar maritime air, warmed by descent from the crest, which is some 6,000 m (18,999 ft) above sea level. It may exceed a velocity of 40 km/h (25 mph) and may lead to changes in air pressure, commonly causing people headache.

Nearby towns from Villa Unión are Los Palacios, Banda Florida, Villa Castelli, Vinchina, Guandacol, Aicuña and Patquía. Nearest major cities from Villa Unión are San Juan, La Rioja, Chilecito, Catamarca and Córdoba.


The area which is now Department of Coronel Felipe Varela, was inhabited by the Diaguita - Chapayane Indians who lived in the village of Guandacol. The Spaniards came to the Bermejo Valley around 1634, but their occupation was resisted by the Indians of Guandacol until 1636, when the Indians were punished for their resistance by Don Geronimo Luis de Cabrera, who banished them from their lands and send them to the hills of the Famatina mountain range. Many died in their journey to the new land, and the few who survived settled in a new location. The old land of the Guandacol Indians was reclaimed in 1649 by General Pedro Nicolás Brizuela, and was the land officially given back to them on January 25, 1650.

At the beginning of the 17th century, there was a settlement of white people that can be considered as the first inhabitants of Hornillos, present day Villa Unión. They lived in peace with the local indigenous population, which were living in the region after being exiled from their lands.

In about 1750, three families from Western Chile came to the region and settled in Guandacol, but for unknown reasons left and settled down in Los Hornillos, which today is Villa Unión. Los Hornillos takes its name from the kilns that the locals used on the banks of the Bermejo River to bake homemade bread.

Los Hornillos becomes Villa Unión: On December 1, 1869, the province was divided into twelve departments, which specified the limits of Departamento Guandacol, making Villa Guandacol the main town of the department and Los Hornillos was a district within the new department. On September 9 of 1881, the name of Departamento Guandacol is changed into Departamento General Lavalle and the main settlement was now Los Hornillos, whose name was changed into Villa Unión.

The name Villa Unión takes its significance from the three Chilean families who were expelled from Guandacol and moved to Los Hornillos in 1880, where the local residents did not only give them protection, but also gave them ownership of land so that they could settle down. Therefore, Villa Unión represents the cohesion and commitment among the families of these two peoples - "The Village of Union".

The town used to be centralized around the area where now is Hospital Zonal Dr. Eduardo Salomón Neira, due to the 1854 earthquake which left the town in ruins and the locals were forced to move their settlement a little north. The village of Villa Unión consisted of three major streets, arranged in a North - South manner. The main street today is Avenida Nicolás Davila.

Get in[edit]

The nearest airport is the Capitán Vicente Almandos Amonacide Airport in La Rioja, 3 kilometers from the city center of the city of La Rioja. Three weekly flights are offered between Buenos Aires and La Rioja by Aerolineas Argentinas.

The international route from Villa Unión to Copiapó in Chile is under construction and will soon be opened, with a paved road and a tunnel, allowing crossing of the Andes the whole year round on good roads, which is believed to improve life in the little town of Villa Unión in the coming years, for its new strategic position for international trade.


From La Rioja:

07:00 Facundo
12:00 Facundo
13:00 Arce
19:00 El Zonda
20:00 20 de Mayo

From Chilecito:

12:30 Invanlor

From San Juan:

18:00 G-Team - Daily door-to-door service. Arrival in Villa Unión at 21:00.
22:00 Transportes Fernández (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday)

Get around[edit]

Villa Unión is a very small town and can be seen on foot. However, if you decide to go and see nearby sites of Banda Florida or Anchumbil, it might be useful to catch a taxi, which can be found on the northern side of the Plaza.

Taxi drivers also take tourists to attractions further away from Villa Unión, such as Laguna Brava, Talampaya or Valle de la Luna, which is convenient and often cheaper than a tour, if you travel two or more together.



  • The Viewpoint northeast of city center
  • Miguel Angel Gaitán a mummified child in the cemetery, believed to deliver miracles
  • The Dam as tempting as it is in the heat, swimming here is not allowed
  • Banda Florida west of town. Beautiful rock formations, ancient petroglyphs in the rocks
  • Anchumbil east of town. Similar to Banda Florida.


  • [dead link] Talampaya National Park. Pre-historic, massive, intensively red canyons.
  • Laguna Brava A beautiful lake in the high altitudes, with flamingos and more fauna.
  • Guandacol
  • El Chiflón
  • Ischigualasto National Park also called "Valle de la Luna"


In charge of the tours within Talampaya National Park
Offer tours to Laguna Brava, Corona del Inca, Vinchina, Talampaya National Park, Ischigualasto National Park, amongst others.
  • Taxi drivers found on the northern side of the Plaza
If you are three or more, taxi can be a convenient choice for all the further-afield attractions.


All around town, you'll see stores offering Productos regionales. Those include as an example:

  • Vino Patero
  • Dried fruit
  • Special liquors
  • Mineral stones



  • Podium Disco, Honorario Guerrero. plenty of drinks at the bar here (albeit pricey), plus some entertainment.
  • Guadalupe Bar, San Martín & Honorato Guerrero, +54 3825 67-4569. You could enjoy a torta sandwich thing or pizza here with your drink.
  • 1833 Coffee-Bar-Gifts-Travel, Hipólito Irigoyen 13, +54 382 5668 328. A coffee shop/bar/eatery to hang out at.


  • Hotel Boutique Pircas Negras, Ruta Nacional 76 accesos sur, +54 3825 47-0611. It has a pool and covered patio from which you can see the jagged terrain. $43.
  • Hotel Dayton, Av. Nicolás Dávila 109, +54 3825 47-0640. The exterior might look a little scary, but nice dining room.
  • Hotel Boutique Cañón de Talampaya, ruta 76 km 202, +54 3825 47-0753. Everything seems to have a nice ochre tone to match the surroundings.
  • Hotel Valle Colorado, Nicolás Dávila Sur (RN 76 km 203), +54 9 380 444-8511. Guests get their own cabin here, and can try out the restaurant on site if so inclined. $27.
  • Complejo El Paraiso (El Paraiso del Bermejo), San Martin (on the west side of town), +54 9 3825 53 4378. nicely landscaped.
  • Hospedaje "Doña Gringa", Nicolás Dávila 108. This one is just kind next to the Hotel Dayton not looking to win any international glam awards probably, but the hostess is friendly and serves a nice breakfast with homemade bread and butter/jelly in the morning.
  • Camping and Pool LizGrey, Pje. Albornoz y Gdor. Mellis, +54 9 380 458-9741. In-town campground with pool for the more intrepid accommodation type.
  • Hotel Noryanepat, Joaquín V. Gonzales, +54 3825 47-0133. Basic accommodation here.
  • Cabañas Los Cantaros del Rio, Ruta Nac. 76 Bº San José, +54 9 3825 40-4503. This one also is not too exciting, but it has a pool.


Villa Unión Tourist Information Centre Plaza Principal

Local Guides:

  • Franco Barrera, Tel. 03825/15457370
  • Nadia Barrera, Tel. 03825/15410015
  • Lic. William Miller, Tel. 03825/15558024
  • Lic. Guillermo Muñoz, Tel. 03825/15667875
  • Francisco Narváez, Tel. 03825/15551171
  • Olga Neira, Tel. 03825/15674561
  • Rodolfo Olivera, Tel. 03825/1545773
  • Lic. Raúl Vega, Tel. 03825/15415600

Go next[edit]

To La Rioja, Patquia, El Chiflón and Pagancillo:

04:00 20 de Mayo, El Zonda
15:00 Facundo
19:00 Facundo
21:15 Arce

To Chilecito:

15:00 Invanlor

To San Juan, San José de Jáchal and Guandacol:

05:30 G-Team - Daily door-to-door service. Arrival in San Juan at 08:30.
18:00 Transportes Fernández (Monday, Wednesday and Friday)

To Vinchina and Villa Casteli:

In the morning, smaller vans departing from the plaza.
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