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(Trip to North-West Argentina - June 23/July 8, 2001)


After Cachi, towards Salta, we enter the cactus area (Los Cardones National Park).

This is the "puna" : the altiplano where earth meets sky, and where unknown mountains tower above 18000 feet (more than 6000 meters)...




After a long asphalted stretch (the Recta Tin Tin, a straight 10 miles road, through cactus fields), the road from Cachi to Salta becomes dirt, but very good.

Driving down towards Salta, one should stop at the peaceful Enchanted Valley.




Rocks are red, and lichen of many colors.




Sometimes, in the cavities, one could even see rabbits, and many birds nest around the little lake.


We spent the night in Salta (back to civilisation !). This time, we went to the Petit Hôtel, where the showers are hot...

Salta is worth a visit : it is a nice little town, very active. The pedestrian streets are very busy, and the food market displays very nice produces.

Of course, one should spend a nice evening in a restaurant : empanadas, lomo and chorizo steaks, humitas and tamales (and wine from Cafayate !)...

We also had a walk on the Cerro San Bernardo : very nice view !

The next day, we started towards San Antonio de los Cobres, following the track of "Tren a las Nubes" ("Train to the Clouds")


The new road is almost all asphalt.

But we feel that the "quebradas" are not quite as beautiful as those of Las Conchas and of the Calchaquies Valleys.





A very small village, on the road to San Antonio, and where we were happy to find a small coffee shop (very basic).




After a 12000 feet (4000 m) pass, we met our first llamas !


About 20 miles beyond San Antonio (the dirt road is not too good), the famous railroad viaduct of La Polvorilla, which is still used by the Tren a las Nubes, and pictured on all touristic fliers of Argentina : quite impressive !




In San Antonio de los Cobres, we spent the night in the Hosteria de las Nubes : very comfortable ! And, furthermore, there is an open fire in the restaurant : this is nice, as one feels a bit chilly (-7°C - 20°F - in the morning !), at an altitude of 3700 meters...


A few pratical informations
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