Striped mountains and vineyards

Published: April 4th 2009
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Our first stop in north west Argentina was the MAAM (Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana) museum in Salta that houses the mummified remains of 3 young children, who were sacrificed to the Inca gods. It was a fascinating exhibition which dealt with the uncomfortable issue of human sacrifice in a very delicate and informative way.

From Salta we went 4 hours north to the small town of Tilcara. Tilcara is a quiet town surrounded by striped mountains and a few nice restaurants, so served as the idea base as we explored the surrounding area.

The day after arriving in Tilcara we took a local bus to the village of Purmamarca and spent the day walking around the nearby hills to find the best view of the Cerro de los Siete Colores (hill of seven colours), which sits just behind the village. As the afternoon wore on so the sandstone, which makes up the hill, appeared to change colour too. The reds became richer and yellows and greens lighter.

The next day we went back to Purmamarca but this time to meat up with a shared taxi and drive over the mountain range to Argentina's largest salt flats, Salinas Grandes. The journey took us up to 4100 KM above sea level and everyone in the car was yawning as the air got thinner.

The salt flats were big, flat and white. Very impressive.

Our last full day in Tilcara involved a bus trip to the village of Humahuaca. Which is a nice peaceful village built around a little square and a small church. To keep up with Tracy's frantic souvenir shopping I brought a new hat to replace the one I lost in Brazil. I'm not sure if it looks any good but you can judge for yourself.

To finish off our time in Argentina's north west, we visited Cafayate, famous for it's white wines (and white wine ice-cream). While just outside of town the vine yards give way to barren sandstone landscapes which have been twisted into interesting rock formations and colorful displays of rock sedimentation. Having missed the views on our over night bus into town, we spent the afternoon exploring the canyons and pillars.

An entire day was spent in a minibus visiting a few small towns in the area, and while the scenery was impressive, being crammed into a bouncing bus for 14 hours took the edge off it!

However the next day made up for it as we hired bikes and cycled around vineyards and cheese factories, sampling their goods. After a very tiring day, we had a meal of fine wine and cheese. Very civilised.

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