We left Salta for two days of road-trip (the south Loop for those who know) to discover the back garden between Argentina and Chile.
We managed to find a third person (our friend Alejandro from the same hostel) with who we rent a car for 300 Pesos per day (around 56$ per day). It was the smallest and cheapest car we even found.
On the first day, we went down through the Las Conchas Valley to reach Cafayate, located 190km south of Cafayate.
The landscape of this particular valley changes dramatically. After leaving the plain of Salta and it surrounding villages, we enter the Conchas valley from a very narrow part. The blue sky, ochre earth and trees standing at the bottom of the valley make me think we are in Morocco. But you need a quick glance around to realize there is thousand of cacti around you. Yes, we are in South America, and it feels good.
The valley is getting wider little by little. And this is when we arrive at the first tourist attractions. The devil throat or La Garganta del Diablo (a name we have heard a lot since we have been to the Victoria Falls and Iguazu fals) and the amphitheater, two amazing rock formations.
We continue our journey through the valley which keeps widening.
After the view point of the three cruz (Las Tres Cruces), we arrive at the Obelisque and the Castle (Los Castillos)
We stop at a local handicraft place not to buy something but to play with the lama tight at the end of a rope… (we are safe !!)
We left Salta around 10 am and it is nearly 5pm.. The valley opens up into a plain of vineyard that surrounds Cafayate.
The city of Cafayate belongs to the wine road in Argentina (we haven’t done it but I recommend to do it).
Located at 1683m, the landscape around it, locked between the mountains and the cacti, is particular. On top of this, the contrast betwween the cactus and the wineyard is irreal. For someone who is use to the french vineyard or even the australian one (hunter valley) this is new.
Cafayate is a touristic city that deserves to be seen.
Summary of the first day below:
The next morning, we going back to North but not directly to Salta as we head first to the traditional village of Cachi. We will drive the Road 40, very famous road that cross from south to norh Argentina. This road will lead us through the valley of Calchaquies.
Less red and ochre than the Conchas valley, it doesn’t mean it is not as spectacular.
The little village of San Carlos and its little Church made of adobe.
The valley of Las Flechas (Valley of the arrows) where stone and mountains point toward the sky, looking like arrows.
The view point of Angastaco as torn as the valley of Las Flechas.
Finaly we arrive in Cachi, a bit disappointed by it. We visit the cemetery from where the view is splendid. (Why do you need to die to deserve the best view !!!). From Cachi, we turn toward the East and start our return to Salta. But we not yet there.
The road brings us to the National Park of Los Cardones quite famous for its straight road of a 18 kilometers called « La Recta TinTin ». Why this name ?
The road is indeed an old pre-hispanic dirt road. The name of Tin tin comes from the name of the river, the Tin tin rio, that throws himself into the Calchaquies valley, next to Cachi.
The car easily climbs to 3000m… Here, the landscape is only cactus, we love it.
We take a few shoots of us on the road as below :
After a few kilometers, the first turn, but we keep going up to reach the pass at 3347m. This is San Piedra del Molino. Amazing view with the sun going down.
From there, we start our descent to Salta into a new valley. The light of the sunset helps us to get some nice shoots.
Arrived at the hostel, we wash the car in the dark as we need to get it back fully cleaned.
After these great two days, we end our trip at the local restaurant, El viejo jack (The old jack) to taste some amazing and cheap argentinian meat.
Summary of our second day below:
That is it for our road trip around Salta. We won’t do the north loop as it requires for some parts a four Wheel drive which doesn’t fit our budget.
From Salta, we will take a bus straight to Boliva, the country of Evo and the coca. There, we will discover a lot of new things.We do travel without book guide as we find it more fun to ask feedback to other travellers on where to go, what to do. This is the freedom of travelling for such a long time…As well, we found that any hotel or restaurant quoted in these guides will price 20% to 50% more than the other for the same service.
Blog you soon from Bolivia.
Jacques and Caro.
Tagged: Angastaco, around Salta, cachi, Cafayate, Calchaquies valley, Conchas valley, El Obelisco, el viejo jack, Garganta del Diablo, Las Flechas Valley, Los Castillos, Los tres creces, National Parc of Los Cardones, piedra del molino, recta Tin tin, Salta road-trip, The straight line of Tin tin