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.
Blue sky, ochre stone and green tree where the river is, almost feel like being in Morocco
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.
View from outside to inside of the Devil Throat.
We continue our journey through the valley which keeps widening.
Panorama of the valley from the tres cruces view point
After the view point of the three cruz (Las Tres Cruces), we arrive at the Obelisque and the Castle (Los Castillos)
Us with the castle in the background
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 !!)
Caroline kissing the lama
Stop at the lama place!!!
Alejandro trying to feed the animal while the lama is watching us
Moment of tenderness
Jacques trying to feed the lama
Caroline feeding him
We left Salta around 10 am and it is nearly 5pm.. The valley opens up into a plain of vineyard that surrounds Cafayate.
Arrived in Cafayate and its vineyards
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.
Early morning in the street of Cafayate
Summary of the first day below:
First stop, the Cabral Corral lake
entering the valley of “El rio de las conchas”
Picnic on the shore of the Lake Cabral Corral, I think the mosquitoes ate more than us…
Arrived the devil throat
View from outside to inside
View from inside toward outside
Both of us
Continuing our way to the amphitheatre. The quality of the sound there is quite good…
The landscape changes so quickly. Below us, el Rio de la Conchas
Another photo of this amazing landscape
Jacques, almost flying
The three of us from the Tres Cruces view point
Chevrolet, Argentina, red landscape, quite exotic, indeed?
Our scenic road
Red, white, orange, ochre, technicolor just in front of you
On the road… almost straight
Overview of the “Los Castillos” meaning the Castles
We can really see the castle on the left
Us with a colourful background
Donkeys in the street, what’s else?
Check out the opening and closing time in Argentina…
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.
First stop at San Carlos and its beautiful church
The valley of Las Flechas (Valley of the arrows) where stone and mountains point toward the sky, looking like arrows.
We can really see the rock pointing out
The view point of Angastaco as torn as the valley of Las Flechas.
Just outside the flechas valley, the Angastaco as much torn as the other parts of the valley
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.
Overview of la Recta TinTin from right to left with the first curved road on the bottom left
We take a few shoots of us on the road as below :
trying whatever we can
So we shot some pictures
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.
The view from El Piedra del Molino is beautiful
From there, we start our descent to Salta into a new valley. The light of the sunset helps us to get some nice shoots.
The sun is almost hidden by the mountains
Arrived at the hostel, we wash the car in the dark as we need to get it back fully cleaned.
Before giving the car back, must clean it
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.
and then straight to el jack viejo for the best steak of all argentina
Summary of our second day below:
View of the main bell
Arrived in the valley of “Flechas” meaning arrows. All the landscape points toward one direction
Details of the landscape
Another different view
Chilli drying out in the sun
The valley we are going through called Las Valles Calchaquies. The landscape keeps changing every turns
Arrived in Cachi and visiting the cemetery
Beware of Lama
To cross this park, there is a straight line
Straight line called “La Recta TinTin
So we shot some pictures
Ending with the group picture. We have seen only two cars
And the straight line ends up into a curve
Us with an amazing background. It is cold and we are at 3000m
We keep going up to arrive at 3347m at the Piedra del Molino
A greener landscape from what we have seen over the last two days
We are starting our descent toward Salta
Just before reaching EL Carril, this valley offers an unique sunset view
The sun is almost hidden by the mountains
Cacti with their head in the clouds
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.