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Published: July 17th 2016
Only 5 Colores?
This was a morning view of the valley from near the Garganta del Diablo waterfall.
Theee or four hours (by bus) north of Salta is the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a river gorge formed by the Río Grande, which is no more than a stream in July, the driest and coldest part of the year. Argentinian schools are on break during July, so the region was overrun with tourists, but most stuck to tourist vans and buses and were only a problem when it came to finding accommodations.
Dayhike to Alfarcito
I stopped first in Tilcara for two nights. Tony at La Albahaca hostel told me there is a good day hike beyond the Garganta del Diablo waterfall, so I set out relatively early the next morning to avoid the crowds that I dreaded. It was near freezing when I started, but an hour later when the sun rose above the red mountains I was stuffing layers into my pack until I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt by lunchtime and trying to avoid the desert sun.
From Tilcara to the falls was about 5km; the trail eventually meets up with the road. After the falls, which are along a tributary to the river and were nearly dry, the road continues to climb along the
I judged that it was best to stick to the trails here.
gorge. About 1km after the falls, a trail on the right (with a spray painted rock that says that the trail is only for the people of Alfarcito) leads down, steeply, to the pristine stream and then rises to more remote high country, much of which is untouched desert. 360 degrees and there was no sign of civilization on any horizon. I only ventured further along the other side of the ravine because it was comfortable in the low winter sun.
About 2km later I came across an abandoned hacienda with doors tied shut, a recently used fire pit, a clay stove, and other signs of recent use. On both sides of the ravine there were thousands of cacti; to the south it was nearly barren but I discovered a corral with a lone post in the center and a little beyond there a jackrabbit bolted out of the low brush. I explored for a few kilometers in each direction but all the trails ended and when I saw a horse on the other side of the ravine and tried to cross, three angry dogs and a five year old boy came to the other edge and even he
didn't respond to my friendly waves. I returned to the hacienda- a silent and surreal place to eat lunch. I saw no one else until I passed the falls again.
The following day I continued an hour further north and 500 meters higher to Humahuaca, a little larger than Tilcara, without as many tourist comforts but with cobblestone streets, an attractive central square, and a few identical tourist stalls and shops for daytrippers from Tilcara that stop here, at nearby Uquía to see some church, to Purmamarca for views of the hill with 7 colors, and Iruya farther north, and then back, for a full day in a car.
Giramundo hostel was not a comfortable place to stay- I'll only remember the musty, triple decker, bowed mattress 12 person dorms and really awful coffee. The thing to do is to hire a taxi/truck to ride for an hour to take photos of the 7 colored hills (the number seems arbitrary and debatable), but that sounded uninteresting so I stuffed my running pack with water, a round, flat loaf of bread and an avocado and ran across the bridge and then higher into the desert for my own (inferior)
Painted hills in distance
This was my lunch spot, an hour's run above Humahuaca.
view, at first following the dirt road (route 73) as pickups sped by in dust clouds, fighting the altitude with a rock in each hand for the dogs, and then on a narrow trail along a dry bed on the property of a distant finca, lifeless and silent with an obstructed view of the famoso hill in the distance and a stark desert panorama against the calm blue sky and low sun. I ate to spectacular views and only the sound of the blood in my temples.
There are more photos below.
Tot: 2.874s; Tpl: 0.045s; cc: 14; qc: 73; dbt: 0.0549s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb