FAR NORTH WEST ARGENTINA 2018
Coming down the spectacular Jama Pass we arrived in the North West of Argentina. After a bush camp, our first stop was the greatest depression in North West Argentina, the Salinas Grandes, 12000 hectares of salt, 130 km west of Purmamarca. An amazing site, this huge white landscape. Next was Purmamarca, a small touristy village with dirt roads, a cosy plaza and the seven-colour hills. For us this was the most picturesque village in the valley located at the base of Cerro de los 7 Colores. We now entered the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a very pretty valley covered in cactus and colourful sandstone escarpments. This area contains ancient Inca trade routes which have been here for many thousands of years. This 96 kilometers long valley is famous for its colours and sounds. After a few days it was time for shopping hence we drove south to Salta, capital of the Salta province. It is the largest city in the far north west of Argentina with just over 620.000 inhabitants. Salta is also called Salta la Linda (Salta the beautiful).
The city promotes excellent weather, tourism friendly locals and lots of scenery. The city boasts museums, churches, historic buildings, squares, café’s and great nightlife. Our plan to do sightseeing in Salta became a non-event due to poor weather hence the cable car to Cerro San Bernardo was cancelled and we went shopping instead. With no improvements in the weather in the next few days, we tried our luck and left Salta for our planned trip to Cafayate. With low clouds, fog and drizzle it did not take long to decide to turn around and go north towards Bolivia.
Unfortunately, this meant we missed out on the Province of Catamarca a province with great Andes scenery, lots of driving of the beaten tracks, Inca ruins, craters and hot springs. Same for the Taff del Valle and the Valles Calchaquies, low clouds and drizzle. A shame but we felt lucky we visited the Quebrada de Humahuaca and had perfect weather when exploring the Atacama Desert in Chile. Another location we missed out on was the Colome winery Altura Maxima, which is at over 3100 meters the highest winery in the world. We decided to try our luck at Calilegua National Park.
A very different tropical mountain landscape at just under 400 meters in altitude. Our main reason for visiting the park was the presence of the largest predator in South America, the Jaguar but also the Puma. (seeing the jaguar in the Pantanal was one of the highlights for us in South America) The weather was still lousy and cold. Another change of plans; instead of staying overnight we decided for the hot pools just 30km up the road. Termas de Caimancito has 3 pools to choose from with 48 degrees, 42 degrees and 38 degrees C water temperature and we could camp right next to the pools, which made for a perfect afternoon and morning. With rain pelting down we made the decision to leave for our next destination: Bolivia.
For us our Argentina exploring as part of our world tour will come to an end tomorrow once we enter Bolivia. Argentina is a very diverse country, with great mountain scenery in the east, with cold barren and windy Patagonia where the mountains are covered in glaciers and the land is sparsely populated; the area around Bariloche, the area around Mendoza, where the largest mountain in the world is located outside the Himalayas (Mt Aconcagua 6960 meters); Foz de Iguazu an amazing waterfall; Buenos Aires, the tango, San Telmo markets, La Boca and I can go on and on; the Wild life, to be honest nothing compares to Africa, but the Penguins, Llama, Vicuna and Guanacos and Condors, Jaguars and Puma (unfortunately we never saw any), and last but to the least the people of Argentina, like Australia it is a multi -cultural society. Great people, fun loving, friendly, inviting and the best are the weekend BBQ’s. (Asado’s) Not surprising, Argentinians eat more than 85KG of meat per person per year. Argentinians dine late so if you arrive before 10PM you most likely eat on your own. 11PM is a much better time to arrive. A question we have been asked many times: Would you live in Argentina? No, I still think Australia is the best place on earth to live in as an emigrant. Argentina seems to have too many issues, and I would be very concerned if I would be nearing retirement age. I spoke to various emigrants who are unable to return to their birth country due to having kids and /or grandchildren here or do not have the money to return, but would return to Europe, Canada, or the USA if they could.
Would I come back to visit as a tourist? FOR SURE as Argentina has Great People, Great Scenery, Great Food.
ADIOS ARGENTINA, HASTA LA PRÓXIMA
Robert and Clary