I could sit here and write a few hundred words trying to describe Cafayate like a poet. But I'm no Shakespeare, and it's appeal can be surmised with two simple words: wine and hiking.
The Rio Colorado is a small river that flows from high in the mountains that flank Cafayate's western borders. My GPS tells me we covered 4km from the start of the NP to the small (10m-ish) waterfall at the end of the ravine, but it felt a lot more than that. We were making the hike with some fellow travellers: a German, a Frenchie, a Dutch chic and a Canadian. As soon as they were faced with the unknown of the outdoors, some wanted to pay a local to be our guide for the day. Me however: I wasn't paying some extortionate Argentinian 80 peso per person to be told to follow the river upstream! Picture Russell Coight or Alby Mangels enthusiastically guiding the Europeans and Canadian across little creek crossings, (occasionally falling in) telling them about bush tucker (I didn't call it that but did point out a variety of seriously f***ing HUGE air ferns), and offering everyone biscuits (yep, I did that - they declined). The waterfall and rockpool at the end of the trail was freakin freezing, but the walk back at sunset afforded us some spectacular views of the Quebrada and the winery at the end of the trail was downright amazing.
This was our first encounter with torrontes (a white wine grown, specialised and perfected in this region). To say Sjane and I fell in love with it would be an understatement. This wine is bloody awesome! Get some in your belly! (I didn't react like that exactly at the winery: it called for slightly more class. So I sniffed the glass and swished it around before gulping like a thirsty tween with her first bag of goon.)
After that the next day could be spent doing nothing other than walking around the outskirts of town visiting the wineries (bodegas) and trying more torrontes. Me still being in full bushwhacker mode, I insisted on walking to all of the wineries we visited (German and Canadian still in tow of course). I called it getting a connection with the landscape. We visited two: they were about as far away as possible from town and literally uphill the entire time. Great guidance on my part... Both were excellent wineries however; and we left late in the afternoon with our packs full of torrontes, our heads swimming a little and (probably unsurprisedly) in the back of a taxi.
Like I said at the outset, Cafayate is all about the wine and the hiking. And it does it so well!