NORTHWEST OF ARGENTINA. SECOND PART: CÓRDOBA – CAFAYATE

The real Argentine northwest begins. The territory is very vast, with many places to explore. These are the ones I liked the most in the route I did:

 

  • Córdoba and surroundings

  • San Miguel de Tucumán

  • El Mollar and Tafi del Valle

  • Amaicha del Valle

  • Cafayate

Córdoba and surroundings

Córdoba is beautiful and diverse. The second most populated city in the country breathes majestic colonial architecture, spacious squares, and always offers cultural events (exhibitions, concerts...) and entertainment (university city). In addition, it enjoys a beautiful mountain range with infinite points and interesting communities. Excellent for making friends, making crafts or playing music. Come and enjoy its history, its people and its surroundings.

San Miguel de Tucumán

The capital of Tucumán is not the most beautiful city in the world and its inhabitants are popularly known as "choros" (thieves), so it does not sound very attractive to tourists. However, do not let yourself be guided by stereotypes, as the Tucumán people are excellent people and Tucumán should be a mandatory stop for lovers of history. It was here where the declaration of independence of Argentina took place (July 9, 1816). In addition to Casa de la Independencia (House of Independence), there are many historic buildings worth visiting. The surroundings are also amazing, with jungle-like vegetation that one would not expect in that region. The Alisos National Park is a stone's throw away.

El Mollar and Tafí del Valle

These two neighbors separated by a small lake are a gem of the province of Tucumán. They are in a valley between mountains and is ideal to relax a few days, eat delicious local foods (humitas and tamales, for example), take a dip in the lake or stroll and observe the beautiful flowers. They are just over 100 kilometers from the capital and on the route you will cross the limits of the Alisos National Park, leaving behind a spectacular mountainous jungle landscape.

Amaicha del Valle

Interesting town at 2000 meters high where its indigenous roots (calchaquíes), very present in its inhabitants, and the semidesertic nature of its surroundings stand out. Listen to the locals, visit the Pachamama Museum and explore the ancestral lands of northern Tucumán. To be highlighted: some lagoons, such as the Zazos Dam and the Cardones Dam; the ruins of Quilmes, the last bastion of Calchaquí resistance to the invaders; Abra del Infiernillo, a mountainous pass between Tafí del Valle and Amaicha, the highest point of Tucumán (3042 masl). On one side it presents green and cloudy landscapes while on the other dominates the deserts of blue skies.

 

By the way, if you happen to be there in Carnival (February) you are in luck, because the Pachamama Festival is celebrated, in which Mother Earth is thanked and fertility is asked for the cattle and crops.

Cafayate

Traveler gathering place: those who seek to make friends, make money (if you have a gift/art this is a good spot to settle down for a while), try good wine (this region is the number one producer of white wines and the numerous wineries offer free tastings), get to know a different culture (awesome northern dishes and lots of local art), discover amazing landscapes and geology (from colorful hills and rivers to vineyards and deserts with unreal rock formations). Exactly, this little oasis in the province of Salta has it all. Undoubtedly, one of the most incredible places in Argentina.

 

Besides the town, very nice in front of the mountains, there is a super recommended hike: the one to the Cascadas (waterfalls) del Rio Colorado. This route runs through a spectacular canyon following a river (you need to cross it on several occasions) in which you can swim along the way in pools and waterfalls. The setting is stunning, desert type, with cactus and dry plants dominating the landscape. There are also some cave paintings nearby.

 

To go to Salta capital you have two alternatives, both as different as they are amazing. I recommend doing both, no matter if this implies going back to Cafayate and losing some time. See Northwest of Argentina, Third Part.

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