Pumice Stone Field
Why a Wonder: The Campo de Piedra Poméz (Pumice Stone Field) is a massive white pumice stone labyrinth that more resembles something you would see on a trip to the moon than anything found on Earth. The field is about 20 miles long by 6 miles wide, containing more than 5,000 rock formations ranging in height from 6 feet to 40 feet. The result of a volcanic explosion that spread ashes and debris that were immediately crystallized, centuries of erosion have carved these porous rocks into stunning formations emerging from a sea of black sand, making it look like a shipwreck graveyard.
Where: The Pumice Stone Field is located deep within the Puna of Argentina, which is a high-altitude desert area adjacent to the Atacama Desert of Chile. The field is near the village of El Peñón, located in Catamarca Province.
When: You can visit anytime of year, but fall (March through May) and spring (September to November) are arguably the most comfortable.
Photography: You'll need a 4x4 vehicle to get to the pumice stone area; a tour company that operates in the Puna is highly recommended (I've used Socompa in the past, they are excellent). You park just outside the pumice area, and have to hike into the field. Be aware that much of the hike is over soft sand, which can be difficult, especially considering the high altitude (almost 12,000 feet above sea level). This is an easy place to get lost, so taking a GPS reading at your vehicle before heading out for photography is highly recommended.
Plan to do a lot of scouting to find the most interesting pumice formations, and look to juxtapose formations in the background with rippled sand in the foreground. Sunrise, sunset, and twilight are the best times for photography. If you are lucky to get dramatic clouds, you can make stunning images. Wide-angle lenses allow you to capture a combination of foreground, background, and sky, although longer focal length opportunities are also available. There's plenty of stunning scenery surrounding the pumice field, so plan to spend at least a few days here to fully explore the area and get the best photos possible.
Learn more: Check out my video adventure when I went to Argentina in 2019 to photograph the total solar eclipse. I visit several locations in the Puna in the video, including the Pumice Stone Field.
© Ian Plant
This post sponsored by Delkin Devices.