Atacama to Argentina

Trip Start Mar 18, 2008
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Argentina  , Northern Argentina,
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

San Pedro de Atacama is a small adobe (mud brick) village on the edge of the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world due to its proximity to the Andes. It wasnīt entirely unexpected that the whole town was without water for two of the three days that we stayed there, but nonetheless it was a fun place to hang out. We rented some bikes and headed out into the canyons surrounding town and came to a narrow singletrack through Death Canyon, a tunnel-like path winding through tight turns and caves. We never found the other end of the canyon and headed back to town before we got lost in the maze of pathways. That afternoon, we visited an area known as the Valley of the Moon - the name perfectly reflecting the landscape. We were amazed at the different rock formations and the change in the colour of the rocks as the sun goes down.

The Atacama Desert has a reputation as a great place for star-gazing so we signed up to spend an evening with an eccentric French astronomer, who shares his six huge telescopes to allow you to see Jupiter, galaxies that the naked eye canīt see and a host of other wonders of the sky. Really interesting stuff and who knows, we might start looking up more at night time as a result.

After just three days in Chile, we ventured into Northern Argentina to a town called Salta. We arrived on the bus around 10pm and promptly were told that Argentina would be playing Nigeria for the soccer gold medal in the Olympics. So our first experience in a new country was cheering on the local team in a pub until 3am in the morning. Late start the next morning. Salta has a very European feel and we spent much of the day at cafes on the plaza and in a park overlooking the town, which we accessed via a cable car.

A long day trip from Salta took us into the surrounding mountains, which are full of minerals which īstainī the hills in the most impressive array of colour. We visited a town called Pumamarca, at the base of the īmountain of seven coloursī, each representing a different type of mineral. There were also salt flats (nothing as impressive as Uyuni) and small villages with handicraft markets.

Our next stop was Cafayate, the centre of Northern Argentinaīs wine country. The town is small and tranquil, which means there isnīt much to do except sample the local wine and cheese. We did this every day, without fail, although we justified the quantity of wine we drank by walking to the local vineyards (some as much as 3km from town!!!) and also taking a hike one afternoon into a canyon full of cactii and goats. After three days of wine tasting at bodegas (cellars), eating too much and generally being lazy, we are moving on.

Having now spent a week and a half in Argentina, thereīs some things which have become evident and which we really like - the steaks are enormous and must be the best tasting in the world; if you donīt feel up to red meat, empanadas (little doughy things with all sorts of tasty fillings) are just as tasty; the wine is plentiful and even nice bottles are cheap ($5 for a goodie); you can eat anything you want without getting the runs (this might sound strange, but we havenīt been crook once since we left Bolivia!) and the people go out of their way to make sure you love Argentina. Canīt say a bad word about the place....
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Comments

joy44
joy44 on

Hi hearty travellers
Hi PT, have really enjoyed reading about your travels, especially the wine drinking in Argentina.
Take care and keep safe.

johnnoonan
johnnoonan on

Cheap red wine and a................
Yo!
I'ma on my way to Argentinia man, $5 plus a great steak, cheeses and cafe's & vineyards everywhere - is Arge-whatever also known as 'Utopia?'
Be good to see the 'slide-show' when you get home guys and re enact an unbelievable adventure!
On the downward slide to Down-Under now - what some 10 days to get back to the buzz(off) of Briz-Vegas/Brizneyland, betchya cant wait travellers!
John & Lizzy

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