North-West Argentina - probably the last decent buses and steaks that i'll be sampling for a while!!!!

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South America » Argentina
March 26th 2006
Published: March 28th 2006
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I've now finally reached Bolivia. Its a country I feel I've been meaning to get to for a long time, but have been delayed by the sights and attractions that have kept cropping up en-route from Santiago!!!

Before updating what I've been up to the last week or so I thought I've jot down some more general views on Argentina as a whole.

Before setting out I didn't expect Argentina to be one of my favourite places, but having left it for the final time I can look back on my travels there and say that they've been superb.

Argentina seems to contain just the most amazing array of landscapes and attractions, and I feel that i've been lucky enough to experience most of them. From the sultry, sweaty Iguacu Falls in the North-east, to the crazy party city of Buenos Aires, through an unbelievable amount of emptiness in the centre down to the beautiful sights of Patagonia, with stunning mountains and glaciers, and then up to the pleasant green towns of Argentina's wine country and on to the rugged, desolate extreme North-west.

Also, these amazing lanscapes and sights seem to be combined with the best bits from around the world. For instance, there are the buses - which are definately the most comfortable I've ever travelled on, and the food, which although is primarily based around the beloved cow, is almost always superb, and the price of all of this is so much less than you'd expect - well I guess thats what happens when you throw the odd economic crisis into the mix!!!

Overall though, Argentina seems to have everything you could possibly want to see or do all within one country and is definately somewhere i'd recommend - well, unless you're a vegetarian!!

Anyway, I have spent the last 8 days or so moving through North-west Argentina, visiting green, leafy towns and arid, more isolated villages.

First stop was Mendoza, a picturesque town in the heart of Argentina's wine-making country. After the excesses of Santiago it was a fine place to sample some low-paced parklife, enjoying the town's many sunny, picturesque plazas. However, the booze bus inevitably caught up with me and on a Sunday night of all nights, a few cheeky drinks, led to a few more and then a night n the tiles ending with a 7a.m. bedtime. It seems its not just Buenos Aires where the party goes on all night, every night. I really don't know how anything ever gets done in Argentina!!

I then visited Salta, a pleasant town with a lot of colonial architecture still remaining. One of the highlights of Salta was the all you can eat and drink BBQ that was laid on by the hostel the first night I arrived. For less than 3 quid, they provided gallons of cheap vino tinto, an immense array of salads and literally what must have been an entire cow to go on the grill!! The size of the pieces of meat that were being cooked up was stupendenous, huge flanks of beef at least an inch thick and grilled to perfection. Moreover, I was chatting to some Israeli's who had just returned from Bolivia, and they warned me that Bolivian cuisine is nothing like this and I should tuck in now because it make be the last chance I get to sample food this good. So naturally I did!!

I then headed further north, into the arid and barren parts of Argentina that lead to the Bolivian border. The route I took onwards followed the Calchaqui valley, a rugged valley with spectacular scenery. First stop was the tiny village of Purmamarca - much visited for its "MontaƱa de siete colores" (Mountain of seven colours). The was formed by seven differently coloured rock strata one on top of another and looked fantastic in the sunny weather.

I moved onwards to another tiny village, Tilcara, which had some of the best panormamas of the Calchaqui valley, as well as a first sighting for me on this trip Cactii!! Tilcara also had the remains of a Mayan hilltop village which I visited. However, it all seemed a bit of a sham as the "remains" all seemed very modern and recently constructed.

I spent a night at the small town of Humahuaca, and from there I headed to the Bolivian border and managed to cross it without incident. Bolivia is a country I'm really looking forward to travelling in. Its a lot poorer than any of the other South American countries and is also visited by far fewer tourists. I expect it to be much less westernised than any other the places that I have visited so far and could be an adventure every step of the way. We shall see!!!


28th March 2006

great snaps big man. keep up the good work!

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