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Published: December 30th 2008
The devil's throat
Day 627 (16.12.08)
Our sparkly red Fiat (soon renamed the flying tomato) arrived in front of the hostel at 9.30am and after booking bus tickets for when we returned we were soon loading our stuff and ourselves into the car for a 2-day road trip with Tess and Haydn. The guys had bought some cheap CDs in the market to use as our soundtrack and we were looking forward to the "Metal Soft" CD with a new song from G n R "Singe I dont have you"!
We were headed south to start and, once we found our way out of town with our extremely basic map and the extreme lack of road signs we passed through a couple of small villages based around the main road.
Once we reached Moldes we took a turn off to visit a gorgeous lake that sparkled in the hot sun and whose shore was dotted with very smart looking houses and hotels. Having spent so long at high altitudes where the plantlife is scrubby and greyish it was fantastic to see so much vibrant green everywhere.
As we continued along the road the villages petered out and the landscape became
more and more stunning. With mountains displaying layers of multi-hued rock either side of us and the green of the trees nestled next to the river in the midst of it all it made for a beautiful journey. As we neared Cafayate, our planned stop for the night, the rock formations in last 50km of the road became even more spectacular. We climbed up the superb Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) and listened to a couple of local guys playing their haunting tunes within the natural acoustics of El Anfiteatro a little further along.
Having stopped many more times to marvel at the views and the various other points of interest along the route we arrived into Cafayate in the evening and found a place to stay with a pretty courtyard.
We spent the evening with some wine and cards sitting under the vines in the courtyard (Cafayate is a big wine area) and looking after a tiny puppy we named Randolph. Brought in from the street by another traveller he was very sick and sadly didn't make it through the night but we were glad to have given him plenty of love and cuddles in his last
Day 628 (17.12.08)
Keen to visit a couple of the area's vineyards before we hit the road again we set off early and found an excellent place which was glimmering with newness and very fancy. After a quick tour of the facilities by a lovely lady we settled into some tasting. A relatively new winery there were only three wines to try but we were sufficiently impressed to come away wth three bottles between us including a couple of the Torrontes that the area is famous for.
The next winery turned out to be the other end of the scale which we quickly realised when we saw the warehouse filled with huge bottles holding about 4.5 litres each - we had arrived at the equivalent of a goon factory! We toured around and were interested to be able to watch the bottling and labelling process but less than impressed with the wine we tried!
We still had a fair amount of distance to cover that day so although we were tempted to go to one or two more wineries we hit the road to make our way towards Cachi.
Yet more superb scenery
was awaiting us as we passed though some tiny villages of no more than a few mud brick houses and moved from deep red rocky hills to cliffs made up of layers and layers of grey rock sticking up from the dust and tilted at the same angle for miles around. We had lunch at the pretty town of Angastaco and eventually made it to Cachi. We drove around the cobbled streets looking for a place to stay and once settled had a wander around the main plaza. Tess and Chrissie went for a detour to the top of the hill which is the site of the town's cemetery and a spot with some great views over the surrounding area.
Another evening of wine and cards in another pretty courtyard topped off what had been a great couple of days.
Day 629 (18.12.08)
We had to get the car back to Salta for 10.30am and we had quite a way to go so left just after 7am and were soon enjoying views of more multicoloured mountains and some very large cacti dotting the landscape. All was going well until with little warning a thick mist rolled in
reducing visibility to less than 5m. Slowing right down Mark was doing an excellent job until the weather threw another spanner in the works by delivering a bit of rain to go with the fog. This would not have been a big problem if the windscreen wipers had worked on the car...as it was Mark spent the next hour or so navigating winding roads in thick mist and rain leaning out the window to see and using a rolled up towel to wipe the windscreen every 20 seconds or so...an admirable job!
Thanks to Mark's excellent skills we made it through the mist and joined a beautiful river road lined with rich red hills albeit with a few landslides to weave around and some fairly large fords to cross. We made it back to Salta about 11am and with no trouble giving the car back late we were pretty happy with that!
Chrissie and Haydn made a market trip for a spot of lunch returning with a feast of steak, salad and potatoes for the bargain price of a pound a head!
A lazy afternoon by the pool followed and we rounded off the day with another
great team meal before we had to make our way to the bus station for our night bus south. Tess and Haydn braved the evening's rain to take us to the bus station and we waved to them from our comfy seats, sad to say goodbye to some good friends we'd had a ball travelling with.
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