Published: August 6th 2007April 29th 2007
Yes, yes, I know, we’ve only just moved in yet here we are taking a weekend away already. Well, you’ve got to take the chance when you can as who knows what the work situation will be in a few weeks time.
5 hours from Salta is the town of Cachi, known as the gateway to the Cactus National Park. Coming from Salta, you actually go through the park first, so in our eyes it’s more like the back door to the park! The bus laboured up to Piedra Del Molino to almost 10,000 ft above sea level before descending a couple of thousand feet through the spectacular cactus valleys and finally reaching Cachi.
After no problems in La Paz or San Pedro de Atacama, we were a bit surprised to find the altitude taking its toll on us. Maybe it was the 0700 bus departure though, as it was pretty tough to get up early after so many weeks (or is it months?) of lying in!
Cachi is a small town and it is easy to walk around on foot. We trekked up to the colourful Andean cemetery on our first evening. The view was excellent and
it wasn’t too difficult a climb. We also paid a visit to the Argentine Automobile Club hotel where we sat outside and had a beer, feeling just a little underdressed as people started to come out for dinner!
Our aim was to do some walking whilst we were there. The altitude and sunny weather put paid to our thoughts of walking 17km each way to some ruins so instead we walked 7km each way to nearby Cachi Adentro. On the way be were constantly sung to by parrots (or were they macaws?) and saw a few people in the fields making pimento, or paprika, by drying peppers in the sun. It was quite a colourful sight.
On the outskirts of Cachi is a theme park, but don’t expect Alton Towers or Disneyland! It is really a thematic park showing the way of life in the area over the years. We were the first visitors on Sunday morning and had our own personal guide, Patricia. She was brilliant. We saw how the local population have lived in small houses and cooked on open fires. We also saw lots of cactus and llamas. It was very interesting and a good
way to pass a few hours.
Naturally, we managed to pick up a stray dog. Patricia told us Jackie is well known to them and often follows tourists into the park when they walk up from the town. Normally having a stray in tow keeps other dogs away but Jackie wasn’t brave enough to fight them off and often cowered close to us as we passed other mutts! We thought we had managed to palm him off on some other tourists as we left the park but before long he came bounding down the path and stayed by our sides all the way back to town!
What would a blog be without a mention of the food though? We found a lovely restaurant with homemade pasta cooked almost in front of your eyes - just behind the bar in fact. It was fabulous. That’s not exactly a traditional local dish however, but cabrita, or kid (young goat) certainly is. The goat stew wasn’t much to write home about but the oven roasted variety was superb, especially with roasted potatoes and salad, and of course, washed down with a cold glass of beer.
The trip back to Salta
took just 4 hours. The scenery was breathtaking. How we missed it on the way up I don’t know. For those who have done the downhill cycling from La Paz with Gravity Tours, it was very similar to that, but with slightly safer looking roads! We both think it would make an amazing downhill cycle ride. Are you reading this Gravity?!!!
There are more photos below