Imagine the most narrow paved road with turns so tight and blind that riding much faster than walking pace would be suicidal! Now add horses, cows, donkeys and a walking procession of pilgrims. Then submerge the whole thing in a tropical forest. This is la cornicia!
By one side of the road a thick forest that not even the sun can pierce and on the other sheer drops to the bottom of the valley. The cornicia runs mid-height along the hills between Salta and Jujuy and is a true spectacle. There aren't many views of the surroundings as most of the time you are immersed in the vegetation. The two hours along this road flew by as we awed at its uniqueness.
Jujuy is a modern city at the bottom of the hills with little to show other than traffic. A quick stop for ice-cream is enough here.
What lies ahead though is very unique. Heading north from Jujuy the Quebrada de Humauacha holds some incredible mountain landscapes of many colours and some very special villages inhabited by the Quechua.
The most visited of these villages are: Purmamarca, Tilcara and Humauacha. Our first stop was Purmamarca, which sits in the middle of some of the most spectacular rock formations we have seen, just a few km off the main road. Unlike the red clay formations of Cafayate, hills and mountains here are made of rock tinted with many colors. The main feature is still the red of the iron rocks but with additional layers of blue, grey and green due to the oxidation that happened over time.
The village itself is made of adobe houses and all the street are unpaved and dusty. Considering its size it hosts a lot of tourists and the atmosphere is vey vibrant thanks to all the people walking around and the colourful rugs and local clothes on sale everywhere. The main square hosts a market where I struggle to keep Benni at bay as she ran off in a shopping frenzy!!
For lunch we sampled Llama meat in the form of a milanesa. We were both pleasantly surprised by the flavour of the meat which is quite delicate yet tasteful, we were expecting something along the lines of lamb...
On our way out we went to the sierro de Los colorados: a 3km path along some of the most unique of the red rock formations. We rode the bike on it and shot some stunning videos, although we are still unsure as to whether we were actually allowed to be there with the bike!
From there we hit the road to Tilcara where we spent the night.