Salta

Trip Start Apr 03, 2006
1
12
18
Trip End May 29, 2006


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Where I stayed
Backpackers Soul
Backpackers City
Backpackers World hostel

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Salta - Day One

Lying on the Lerma Valley, Salta is the capital city of the homonimous province. It is situated in one of the most fertile and nicest sites ever created by nature in this region. It is located at 1,187 meters above sea level, at the bottom of Mounts 20 de Febrero and San Bernardo.

Upon arriving in Salta we took a cab to Backpackers World hostel... we had booked a twin and they offered us a dorm so we went to Backpackers City where it was dead, no people around so we headed finally to Backpackers Soul and got ourselves a compact room with private bath... mission. After a long two nights travelling on roads that could only be described as tracks at best, we decided sightseeing and a gentle stroll in order with a spot of lunch on the plaza. Glorious sunshine and a view over Salta from the top of the hill after a teleferico ride was great. The evening involved a walk around town, Amber picked up some Aretsan trousers from the local market, lovely scene. We explored the nightlife of Salta then headed down to Backpackers World (the other hostel in the chain) with a roof terrace to meet people and exchange stories. We settled with 2 guys, 1 from Oz and the other Buenos Aires and chatted into the very early hours about everything from football to politica, food, drink, holidays, work and life ... great until 06:20 when we had to get up for a day out to Cafayate for wine tasting trekking.

We made it onto the bus with Gus our guide and met lovely other people too - Esther, Jon and Benedikt. We were driven through the most amazing scenery, vivid red rock formations contrasting with greens, blues and much more in between. We stopped at the devilīs throat gorge and climbed up as far as we could... well Amber was slightly ill-prepared wearing flip flops but made it up there anyway of course. Stopping off at various sites along the way heading towards Cafayate 183 km away from Salta, at 1,660 m above sea level. We were hooked and couldnīt take our eyes off the scenery, apart from climbing up to hang out the roof of the bus and take it in first hand.

Cafayate is well known because of its famous torrontes wine product of the exquisite combination of temperature and humidity that provides the ideal environment to the growth of the sweet and deep fruit flavor... so we stopped at a lovely vineyard for tasting the local produce before lunch in cafayate, menu del dia of course which included humitas and tamales. Not sure of everything we ate but it was lush. Post lunch we trekked into the mountains for about 90 minutes and it was fabulous, scenery you just not get at home. A final stop at the ampitheatre, taking in yet more fabulous terrain we didnīt arrive back until 9pm... what a day!

Last night we went out for dinner to la Vieja estacion for gaucho dinner, music and dancing. A marvellous way to end our time in Argentina with yet more amazing food and wine with a few new pals we have met at our hostel - Sally, James, Jon, Benedikt, Amy, Maggie, Andre and another guy.. sorry forgotten his name. Another late one with the girls last to retire around 3am after working out plans for Bolivia. Thanks for a great night!

Today has been taking in the sights around Salta, sorting the bus to Bolivia and getting cash - no mean feat when you want dollars but they want you to have pesos. We ventured out to San Lorenzo as looked lovely in the photos at the hostel but alas nothing to do there so we had some freshly cooked empaņadas of course then headed back on the bus into town. This area is definitely the land of the richer here though with large estates and massive pools so an interesting change in scenery. Anyway, tonight we catch the bus at midnight towards La Quiaca which is the border town with Bolivia. We shall cross about 08:00 on foot!!! and catch a bus or train to Tupiza for a 4 day trek around Salar de Uyuni, the salt plains. We are travellng as a group with Sally and James, pōssibly Amy and Andre too so should be fun.

Brief but to the point we hope, not a lot of time for computers when so much to see and do here. Argentina has been delightful, a place we would encourage everyone to meet, the people the food, the drink, the scenery... bloody fantastic!

Ciao.

John and Amber

Notes:
An empanada is essentially a stuffed pastry. The name comes from the Spanish verb, empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. It is prepared similar to a pie that is cut in pieces making it a portable and hearty meal for working people.

Humita is a traditional food in Argentina. It consists of masa harina and cooked corn, slowly cooked in oil.

A tamale or tamal (from Nahuatl tamalli) is a traditional Latin American food that begins with corn (maize) flour mixed with water and lard. This mixture (masa) is then filled with meat or cheese or any preparation according to taste.

Tamales are an ancient American food. Their essence is the masa dough, usually filled with a sweet or savory filling, wrapped in plant leaves or corn husks, and cooked, usually by steaming, until firm. In Salta they are similar ti humitas but with meat.
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