Sunday, 1 May 2011

From Cordoba to Cafayate & Quebrada de las Conchas

Having left Cordoba behind, my next stop would be Cafayate; the second wine capital of Argentina after Mendoza. On my way, I spent one night in Tafi del Valle, a small village sitting at around 1.700m, which besides the recommendations I had, did not really prove to be anything extraordinary. The weather did not help certainly, but honestly apart from a long walk around an uninspiring lake, with an unexpected companiero, nothing special in this place...

this little guy walked with me for 18km....great companion !

Thankfully, there is an almost direct bus service from Tafi to Cafayate, stopping only at Tucuman, which was not on my list of to-visit places. The bus ride was about 6h and arrived at Cafayate at around 2pm.

From Cordoba to Cafayate

a day that started like this.....

......and after a few hours became so great. Still at over 2.400m 

After sorting a misunderstanding with the hostel I had booked and dealing with their rudeness, I looked around and found a really nice, family-run place with really kind and friendly owners....they didn't speak any English, and had no internet access, but we managed just fine. Don Jorge had a really nice selection of antiques and was really proud of it....

Don Jorge's common area....I was the only guest at the hostel :))

Cafayate is so much different from the rest of Argentina I have seen so far. In more than one ways.... 
It is the first town that you start meeting non-european characteristics people. Genuinely kind and friendly. Prices are very much down to earth and the quality of services and food were more than adequate....what more could I ask? I had planned to stay 2 days but I enjoyed it so much, that made it 4 without any second thoughts.
my favorite snack for just 0,50 euros :)

great wall paintings all over

They really love cycling in this all ages

Hundreds of bikes everywhere....all unlocked!!!

playstation is not play outside

sandy pitch? never mind...they love football

One thing you immediately realize in Cafayate is that the weather is considerably more dry and warm than in Cordoba for example. The soil is much more sandy and the vegetation is....different. You start to see a lot of cactus trees and kind of deserted landscapes. I am no expert but maybe that's the reason for making such fine wine over here.
I spend one afternoon in visiting the Quebrada de las Conchas which is an impressive canyon with several hotspots that introduces the visitor to the landscapes to follow as he moves further north to the country.

This is the famous Garganta del Diablo (Devil's throat)
Takes a bit of climbing to get to the top but offers a nice view.....of others trying to climb to the top :))

One more reason for Cafayate to be known is that is a popular stopover for motorbikers who are riding through the legendary Ruta 40, which is a national road, largely unpaved (aka fun!). Starts from Patagonia (Rio Callegos) and reaches the borders of Argentina with Bolivia (La Quiaca). Total distance: 5.200km approx. & altitudes ranging from sea level to over 3.000m in some sections. Need to say more??.....every motorbiker's dream route !!!

Suerte !