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(Trip through North West Argentina - June 17/ July 20 2010)
(see here our 2001 trip)

June 30, 2010 : From Payogasta to Susques

This trip is almost an expedition...
From Payogasta (2600 m), the dirt road is in fairly good condition until La Poma (3500 m). Then, it starts climbing to the Paso de Acay (4859 m : the highest pass in Argentina).

The lower valleys are still populated and cultivated.

We could have spent more time exploring these valleys : they are very beautiful.

Then, we reach the "cactus range", around 3000 meters.

Beyond La Poma, the Rio de las Aguas Negras is mostly frozen.

Several rivers must be crossed, which is not a real problem during the dry season, even with a small 2-wheel-drive car (we inquired at the Cachi police station, before leaving)

When we get near to the pass, we discover several 6000 m mountains, which do not seem to be very difficult to climb, but maybe a bit monotonous ?

Here, the Nevado de Acay (5950 m),
which was probably ascended for the first time by the Incas...

The road is very well laid out, and the traffic is very light... It is highly recommended to take along at least one spare tire - and some medication against mountain sickness...

From the summit of the pass, we see the salar of Salinas Grandes in the distance.

The drive down to San Antonio de los Cobres is much easier : good dirt road, no river to cross.

On the way down, we meet our first vicunas, marvelously graceful and light, stylish enough to match their dresses to the colors of the ground...

After San Antonio de los Cobres (which we flee very quickly), we go around the Salinas Grandes salar, of which we see the bright extent, however without finding an access road.

And we reach Susques via route 52, hard covered, in excellent condition, which goes from Purmamarca to San Pedro de Atacama, in Chile, via the Paso de Jama pass.  

A few practical informations

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Cont'd... Page 5 (From Susques to San Pedro de Atacama)