Darío was scheduled to participate in a conference in San Miguel de Tucumán, so we decided go early & see a bit of NW Argentina while in the area. Neither of us had been before, & we had such a good time that I wouldn’t hesitate in returning.
With a limited number of days, we took a 06:30 flight from Buenos Aires to Salta. Seemed like a great idea when I bought the tickets, but getting up that early is never much fun for me. Still a bit groggy, we set out to explore a cloudy & chilly Salta early Sunday morning. Absolutely gorgeous city. So much of its architectural heritage had been preserved that it was a joy to wander the streets. I never expected such a large cathedral or such a devout population, but was happy to see the final resting spot of General Güemes. After lunch at Doña Salta —touristy but serving a killer rabbit stew— we booked excursions for the following two days, then collapsed at our rental apartment. More early rises to come…
Our first excursion was to the salt flats in Jujuy, something I’ve always wanted to see. There are salt flats closer to Salta, but everyone goes north to Jujuy… not sure why. Maybe the others aren’t as open to tourism. The most unexpected part of the trip was passing through several different types of landscape: forest, desert & winding mountain roads all in one day. As we ascended to over 4000 m above sea level, the clouds cleared to give us postcard after postcard landscape. It was hard to believe there were so many different colors & types of rock formations. Fortunately neither of us experienced any signs of altitude sickness… no coca leaves that day! As the road sign shows, we were definitely a long way from home:
The idea was to arrive at Salinas Grandes as early as possible since the sun bakes everyone alive. It was as spectacular as I had hoped… immense extensions of salt as far as the eye can see. Breathtaking. And we couldn’t resist taking a few of those silly pics which look so funny due to the lack of perspective:
Retracing our route, we stopped at Purmamarca for lunch. It was pretty standard fare… the typical setup where the guide brings a group & he or she eats for free. Actually my pastel de choclo was pretty tasty, so I couldn’t complain. Darío & I were drafted to eat at the table with two Dutch girls who spoke limited Spanish but perfect English. No problem. Then we had about 45 minutes to explore the town before riding back to Salta. The sun began to set & there was wonderful light for photos:
Long excursions in Argentina —like our trek through the Península Valdés in Chubut— can be a bit boring because there is usually only one route in or out of these gorgeous places. Even though I had a quick nap on the return trip, no way could I be bored with such fantastic scenery. It was a wonderful day worth the 200 pesos each… and I didn’t think anything could top the whale-watching excursion last month. Silly me.
Next: a trip to San Antonio de los Cobres + a pre-Inca archeological site.
Talk about a small world: the owners of our apt came by yesterday to say goodbye and they showed photos (on their iPad!) of their week-long vacation. They went the same places you went, and some of the photos were almost identical: Purmamarca, the salt falts, the switchback highway, etc.
BTW, did you get those photos of you two I sent? Not nearly as clever as the perspective shots on the salt flats!
That’s hilarious… when you take excursions, everyone certainly ends up with the same photos. The only way for that not to happen is to rent a car & do your own thing. If only I could drive a stick shift! I bet there are a few hundred pics online of that switchback road already 🙂
Got the photos & thanks very much. I’m writing a post about Calafate right now… hopefully not as many copies of that exist!
Amazing, my friend. I couldnt resist to think in Julio Cortazar’s irony:
In his short story “Correos y Telecomunicaciones”.
hahaha Excellent! I haven’t read it, but the quote fits perfectly! Saludos!
loved the chronicle but where is the pic with the star of the show, el cerro de los 7 colores? don’t tell me you went all the way to Purmamarca and you missed one of my 7 natural wonders of Argentina? The other six in my list are: las Cataratas del Iguazu, glaciar Perito Moreno in Calafate, La Cueva de las Manos in Santa Cruz, Peninsula Valdés in Chubut, the lake area in Patagonia, Bahía Lapataia y Canal de Beagle en Tierra del Fuego
That was the first pic in the post! Gorgeous. But you should keep reading… the excursion to San Antonio de los Pobres was bastante choto. Sabélo 🙂 I’ve been to Cataratas, Perito Moreno, Lago Nahuel Huapi, y la Península Valdés. Bastante. For natural wonders, Los Altares en Chubut should be on the list. Impressive but little known. My partner lives in Chubut so I go often 🙂 Abrazo!
right, silly me, I missed it! jaja, anyway, I agree with you about SA de los Cobres, was too dry and too overrated imho. If you hzave not been to Ushuaia, it should be at the top of your list in Argentina, you’ll love it!
btw, I did get to see Los Altares, a few years back going by car from Trelew to Esquel –amazing, thanx for reminding me
Thanks for the recommendation, Ceci! I’m not in a rush to get to Ushuaia… seems to be a bit touristy for me. But I would love the scenery. I’m glad I went to El Calafate in 2003 before the big tourism boom. Still many places to see in Argentina, like Córdoba!
I’ve lived in BA for 11 years but worked in Europe. I traveled for many months of the year, so when I came home I didn’t want to leave. But I’m exploring the country a lot now. Abrazo!