Fri 8th - Sat 16th Nov (Week 7)
Fri 8th - Spent the day catching up on research and sorting out photos after our Uyuni trip, then went to the San Pedro museum in the afternoon, but had seen it all in about 10 mins as they had removed all the mummies in 2007, so barely anything there ! At 9pm we went out into the desert for the SPACE tour. It is run by a Canadian astronomer who moved here 4 years ago as its probably the best place in the world to see the stars as it is always so clear. He had 10 large telescopes, and there were also huge observatories from all over the world there. Up on the mountains they are building a number of telescopes which, when all connected will make one equivalent to a 15km telescope so will really change how we can see space. Saw some great views of the moon, and an area of new stars forming, and were filled with information, and shown where various stars, planets and the Zodiac stars are.
Sat 9th - More internet research in the morning, and then went on the Valle de la Luna tour at 4pm. Went into a salt cave - entirely made of salt, so kind of crystal-like, but also covered in sand. Then to the amphitheatre which is the famous site of San Pedro - huge cliffs in a curve which look like a theatre. Then onto Death Valley where we walked through a corridor between the cliffs and got sand-blasted by the very strong winds ! And finally to a viewing point overlooking the amazing lunar-landscape of Valle de la Luna to watch sunset. Bit of a whistle-stop tour, but good to see the surrounding landscape which was pretty spectacular.
We really liked San Pedro actually, nice little town, and quite endearing that all buildings are adobe mud-huts and almost all built on top of each other - everyone sharing a wall so you can hear all your neighbours in the courtyards etc. It is small enough to walk around easily, very safe, and not too busy.
Sun 10th - Caught the AndesMar bus to Salta at 10:30. Went through immigration from Chile to Argentina at 1pm which took an hour and arrived into Salta at 9pm. Another amazing journey landscape-wise - crossing over the Andes, driving through salt flats, past lagoons, valleys, barren landscape, and then coming into more lush green towns. And despite it being a 10+hr journey, the bus was really comfortable with big, wide reclining leather seats.
Mon 11th - Booked our trips and accommodation for next few days around the area, and then spent the afternoon exploring Salta. Another nice town - made all the better for pure dark blue skies and warmth ! Looked around the main plaza seeing the historical and colonial buildings and churches. Went out to dinner with our Aussie friends Jeff & Erin (who we've been with since Uyuni) and had fabulous Argentinean steak, and a lovely Malbec red wine from Cafayate. Living pretty well for backpackers on a budget !
Tues 12th - Caught a day tour bus down to Cafayate, stopping at various viewing points to take in the scenery of the Quebrada. We stopped to see The Devils Throat, the Amphitheatre, the frog, the rock shaped like the sinking Titanic and much more. Had a brief wine tour of Bodega Domingo Hermanos included in the tour, then we checked into our hostel - Casa Arbol - while the others on the day tour continued back to Salta. Jeff, Erin, Brandon and I then went to Bodega Nanni for another wine tour and tasting. This was much better - beautiful large wine glasses, relaxing nice environment and really good wines. Bought a Rose to share, and some bread, cheeses, cold meats etc and sat in the lovely courtyard of our hostel eating and drinking !
Wed 13th - Got a taxi up to the start of the Rio Colorado and found a local guide to take us to the waterfalls. Did the whole trip in about 3.5 hours and I think we only got to the first of 7 waterfalls ! It was a much harder path than we expected - climbing up vertical rocks, through crevasses, crossing the river etc, and never could have done it without the guide, but was such amazing views and was a really good walk. Swam in a couple of the waterfall pools but it was ice cold, so no-one stayed in long ! Walked down the dirt road to Finca "Las Nubes" - another winery with fabulous views over the valley and back towards town. Shared a Rose wine and cheese platter and had a lovely relaxing hour in the sun. Got another taxi up to Bodega Domingo Molina where we had another good tour, and tried 7 wines ! Our favourite wine out of the 4 wineries was the Bodega Nanni, but for setting and atmosphere, it was Domingo Molina. We sat outside, looking down over the vineyards, valley, town and surrounding hills, and the guide kept coming out to fill our glasses with the next taster, and we could take our time, relax and enjoy the views and wine. Bought a couple of bottles and floated back down to town with our merry wine-heads ! Went to dinner at Bodega Nanni, another bottle of wine, excellent food and such a beautiful setting.
We've had a fabulous time in Cafayate - way better than expected with a great setting, wonderful wine and friends and could happily stay a week !
Thurs 14th - Caught the 10:30am Fletcha bus back to Salta, arriving at 2.15pm. Again, stunning scenery along the Quebrada - so good you can't quite believe it is there - just seems like a photo. Once back in Salta, we went to the Museum in town which had the 3 Incan mummies that were found at 6,700m in the Salta region, but unfortunately they only show one at a time on rotation. Very interesting though, and amazingly preserved - quite eerie.
Fri 15th - Were meant to go on a day trip North to Humahuaca, but there were protests on every road north, so after leaving at 8am, we had to turn around again at 11am and head back to Salta. Shame, as the scenery and towns are meant to be lovely, but we passed them briefly on the way from San Pedro, so kind of half seen them already. Brandon had his first haircut since we left - 7 weeks ago now !
Sat 16th - Had an emergency trip into town on Saturday to look for new trekking sandals as mine have now broken ("shouldn't buy cheap rubbish" - as Brandon said") but ended up just buying flipflops! Caught our flight to Iguassu Falls at 6:30om and landed at 8:30pm.