The most ambitious alternative of our itinerary for Argentina had the small town of Iruya as furthest place we would reach. This town sits remote in one of the most stunning mountain locations of the Andes. At less than 100km away from the Bolivian border it would take us about 300 km away from Salta, where we were scheduled to return the Transalp and catch our flight back to Buenos Aires. We really wanted to see this magical place and go on one of the numerous treks around the area. However we were starting to get tired from all the riding and we were not sure how well our bodies would cope with the 60 Km of off-roading that separate Iruyafrom the main road.
However, once again, the insatiable and slightly irresponsible kid within us made us decide to go for the last and possibly best exploration of our trip. The road to Iruya is just as amazing as the place itself and a true paradise for the adventure/off-road rider! In 60 km the rocky and gravel track leaves the main road at 2000m above sea level and goes all the way up to 4000m, at Condor pass, to then descend again back to 2600m where Iruya sits. If you try to imagine just how many turns and hairpins there are on this road, think again...and then multiply by 10! On this road we have shot some of the most stunning videos and photos of the whole trip! After climbing up and down from Condor pass, through mountains that seemed to change colour with every turn (form greenish blue oxidised rocks to deep red iron clay and brown and grey rocks) we reached a sloped plateau which, from above, looked like the canvas of the motorcycling-God. The road spiralled down like a snake around a tree trunk. Funny enough at one point along this remote dirt road we reached a street sign with the picture of a mobile phone, which marked the only spot in the valley were the mobile phone network had coverage. The last kilometres before Iruya cut the mountain on its side providing views over the valley ahead that were just a breath taking as the sheer drops on the side of the road. We had seen pictures of Iruya before, with its characteristic white and blue chapel throning on the side of the mountain and we had great anticipation of that sight as we rode through the last few turns. Reaching the village felt incredibly good, thanks to the road that took us there, the incredible location where this town sits, and also because we were happy to see just how amazing the last leg of our trip was! This town of adobe houses is connected via a web of narrow streets climb steep over the side of the mountain and make it look like the town reaches the sky. Everything is basic and essential, the natives tend to keep to themselves but are welcoming when approached. The somatic characteristics of the people of this valley are far from the more westerner looks seen in the larger towns, and are very close to those of their Bolivian relatives. After a short exploration of the town, we climbed on the roof of our room and enjoyed the views over what tasted like the best beer in the world as it helped mixing what our eyes were seeing with all we had seen during the day on the amazing road to Iruya.
PS: video link: http://youtu.be/3XXHgQxKkNs