andean argentina - this is south america

  • Cathedral in Jujuy
  • another cathedral in jujuy
  • weird landscape
  • 1000 year old tree in pucamara
  • tree through fisheye
  • crucifix at church
  • cemetary in pucamara - small house in distance are graves
  • starting the trek
  • ela and amy trekking
  • moon and landscape
  • bright sun beating down at 9am
  • freaky rocks
  • random little house thing
  • kids on their daily jog
  • cross country running
  • moon and cactus
  • purple rocks
  • hotel in the rocks
  • random cactus
  • 7 colours of the rainbow
  • cactus with the 7 colours
  • hand on cactus
  • some dude and a cactus
  • pigeons on church
  • church in tilcarma
  • old dude told us this painting is a drunken dream - sueno de buracho
  • cactus and mountains
  • sweating big time on way to garganta
  • parts of garganta
  • more garganta
  • weird structure at the garganta
  • why is there a cross at the garganta?
  • garganta del diablo
  • on the way to the waterfall
  • cooling down
  • old indiginous house
  • probably my most fave photo so far
  • in reality this looked like a hand reaching out to the sky
  • andean monutment
  • at the ruins of pucara
  • loving the cactuses
  • the canyon - really disappointed with the photos

After taking a bus to Salta with Lena, one of the Israelis I met in Rosario, I decided rather than heading into Bolivia right away I would do a bit of trekking in the Northwest Andean region of Argentina. I only stayed in Salta for one night and didn't really do much as I was exhausted from the 16 hour overnight bus. My plan was to head to Cafayate, but in the morning 2 American girls, Ella and Amy had breakfast with us and told me they also want to do Cafayate but were first going to head to a place called JuJuy, from where they were going to do a couple of treks in the mountains surrounding the villages of Purmamarca and Tilcara, both very indigenous villages with amazing landscapes. They invited me to join them and were both keen on the wineries and mountain biking I want to do in Cafayate. We said goodbye to Lena who headed into Bolivia, and we jumped on the next bus to Jujuy.

This area is completely different from what I've seen in Argentina so far. In fact this is exactly what I wanted to see in Argentina. Where all the cities up til now had a very European feel, with people being about 90% European descent, these places, including Salta are no longer European looking, and I'd say about 90% of the people are of indigenous descent. Our first experience in Jujuy, was hailing a cab to take us to the hostel (something I've been avoiding, opting rather for local buses to get the full local experience). The cab pulled over and opened the boot so we could get our backpacks in. In the boot, was a cardboard box full of cut up chickens - with a bit of "juice" spilling out of the box onto the small remaining boot space. "No thanks buddy! We'll take the rucksacks on our laps!".

Today, 13th of May, we hopped onto a bus to Purmamarca at 7am. The village is famous for being nestled in the Serra de Sete Colores (Mountain of 7 colors). This is a landscape which has all 7 colours of the rainbow in the rock formations. Very spectacular. We did a short 3 km hike around the village and got some great pictures and saw some very different landscapes. The village is like something out of a Mexican movie - that's the only thing I could compare it to at the moment. In the center of town there's a church and outside it is a 100 year old tree - so we were told.

After a couple of hours of looking around, we headed north to a village called Tilcara. This is famous for a spectacular canyon called La Garganta del Diablo (The Devil's Throat). According to the guide book, the hike to and from the Canyon is a total of 15km and because it is through rough terrain and extremely mountainous, takes about 4 hours. Not sure what distance we covered but I think it did take us about 4 hours. I thought the landscape in Pumarcara was different, but this place blue my mind. There's all these mad cactus growing in the weirdest of cliffs and that is about the only vegetation around. The sun was scorching, and by the time we were halfway to the canyon, my t-short was soaked in sweat.

Once at the top of the mountain that overlooks the canyon, it's a very steep trek down to the bottom where you get a really good view of the Garganta. My only regret during this trek, is that I don't have a camera, if one exists, that can truly capture the immensity and beauty of this place. After getting to the bottom of the canyon, another 15-20 minute walk takes you to the waterfall that is the source of Tilcara's water supply. When we got to the waterfall, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to jump under it and cool off. Cool off I did, the water was freezing and even though it is a small waterfall it had so much pressure I couldn't get completely under it.

Tomorrow morning I'm headed South again to Salta, and then getting a connecting bus to Cafayate.