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25-28th February 2015 Salta, Cafayate - Argentina

  • On the way to Salta (Northwest of Argentina) we were driving through the Quebrada de Humahuaca, which was a narrow mountain valley with its multi-coloured mountains. Originally I was planning a trip to visit this area from Salta, but this way I had an impression already so I decided to took it easy in Salta. 
  • Within Argentina, Salta is the city that has preserved its colonial architecture the best, therefore also nicknamed Salta la Linda ("Salta, the beautiful"). After visiting Peru and Bolivia it felt good to be in a European-kind of city with lots of big squares and parks, beautiful buildings, mainly clean and tree-lined streets and relaxed, very friendly locals. It was nice just to be there and sit there and watch the people passing by. The place is lively also in the evenings around the main square (named after the Argentinian Day of Independence, 9 de Julio) where families, groups of friends meet and have a good time. I like when a city can surprise me on several places, and Salta can. The street corners are 'cut off' and therefore it gives more sense of space. Generally, these corners operate as cafes, bistros, restaurants. You feel yourself home quickly in this liveable, cosy and stylish town. This was the perfect place to chill out for a couple of days. After a long time I was again visiting a small private museum of indigenous art, culture and artisanal work from all over Latin America, and also went to see the cathedral of the city.
  • The Argentine wine is the fifth in the world’s wine production, so I decided to visit the 'land of sun and wine' and a winery in Cafayate to do some wine tasting. I did not like the tasting itself so much (was not a well prepared place to do it), but luckily I met a lovely English girl with whom we also tried the famous Torrontes and Malbec wine-ice cream and in total we spent a great day together. 
  • We were driving through the spectacular Shell Gorge, Quebrada de Conchas (many marine fossils have been found in the area as it was once the ocean floor). "Each colour is the result of a different layer of sediments deposited over the last 600 million years. Successive tectonic plate movements gave them the shapes we see today." The colours of the rocks speak for: iron-light red, zinc-dark red, blue-cobalt, light green-copper. On the way to Cafayate we stopped at various sites along the way to see the giant rock formations like the Amphitheatre, Devil’s Throat and the Castles.
  • We were told that the Amphitheatre had 80% of the acoustic quality of the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and is used as the location of a local musical festival every winter.
    The guide was talking about the tobacco plantations around the valley and about the Coca which is (the unprocessed coca leaf only!) legal in Argentina since 1989. Coca is easily available also in Peru, Chile and in Bolivia, but legally nowhere else in the world.
    And along the way, like so many places in South America we met adorable llamas.