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Published: July 23rd 2016
Route 40 Near Cachi
That's the number of kilometers north of Tierra del Fuego.
Even though it's a route frequented by tourists, most of the 157 km stretch from Cafayate to Cachi is unpaved and there is no direct bus (see map). Suggestions of how to get between the two ranged from going all the way back to Salta first (see map below) or taking 2 days by making use of the limited, semi-daily transports.
I took an 11AM bus to Angostaco via the famous route 40 (think route 66) and the scenery on this leg of the trip- especially the Flechas (rocks that look like arrows) - made the rest worthwhile. I made the mistake of getting off the bus at the town itself rather than at the junction with route 40, which added another km or two to my walk.
Once back on the road I started walking the 40km toward Molinos, with faith that someone would pick me up, especially since it was during the winter holiday. I figured the worse case scenario would be walking the whole distance, some of it in the dark, or maybe stopping at a town in between if need be. After about an hour and a half of walking with only 5 cars passing
Scenery during my walk
me and my ridiculous sign (MOLINOS) in block letters on graph paper, and an increasingly arid and remote landscape, with no buildings in sight, and the sun not so hot but still unrelenting, a car finally slowed, hesitating, and then stopped. They were two friends, a doctor and a software engineer from Buenos Aires, doing a 15 day drive around the north of the country. I hopped in the back seat and they took me not just to Molinos, but 50 km farther to Cachi. Part of the way through the drive we realized that we actually stayed in the same dorm the night before. I suppose I could have asked around there, but I for some reason feel like less of a mooch standing in the road, with the speed and the dust and the glass between us, vulnerable and encouraging them to pass unless they're sure.
Cachi is the prettiest town I've visited in the Salta / Jujuy area, but not because of the landscape. The streets are cobblestone, with elevated sidewalks and deep drains between, presumably for the heavier rains in other temporadas.
The town also has some terrific restaurant options - less elegant than
the pretentious places in Cafayate and with more pride in their autores de las cocinas than Tilcara and Humahuaca. There are even vegetarian choices, including Ashpamanta, where I ate a delicious quinoa risotto bowl accompanied with some Cafayate wine.
The bus back to Salta was another five hours, but was adorned with Cardones National Park- endless plateaus of cacti in the low sun, and later switchbacks over naked and then grassy precipices; I was thankful that the driver crept along, holding down his horn before every single lane hairpin turn.
Tot: 3.345s; Tpl: 0.078s; cc: 19; qc: 73; dbt: 0.0605s; 3; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb