Humahuaca High

Trip Start Mar 29, 2010
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Trip End May 24, 2010


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Flag of Argentina  , Northern Argentina,
Sunday, May 16, 2010

While in Tilcara, we planned to take a day trip to see the small city Humahuaca that's tucked away 10,000 feet up in the Andes.   I wasn’t sure how I would respond to the altitude, but I was anxious to test myself now that I had been at higher altitudes and gradually ascending for nearly a week. 

We hopped on a local bus shortly after noon that made virtually every conceivable stop along the way to Humahuaca.   Normally I would be frustrated by such a turn of events, but the trip took us the "Quebrada de Humahuaca" – a large gorge that cuts through multi-colored sandstone and sedimentary rocks.  It was recently designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and again, it reminded much of the U.S. Southwest.

The first photo in this post give you a very small glimpse of what we saw.  The combination of the time of day, using a point-and-click camera, and shooting pictures while on a bouncing bus made it difficult to get a decent picture.  Nonetheless, you can see some of the colors and designs that make the Quebrada de Humahuaca.

To see better pictorial representations of the Quebrada, click here.

Upon arrival to Humahuaca, I stepped off the bus with just the customary nausea and light-headedness, and no headaches from the altitude.  Then we walked up a couple of stairs off the main plaza, and I started to suck wind worse than a defensive lineman in the home stretch of a marathon.  

No sudden or strenuous movements would be the rule of the day for me.

Humahuaca is a quaint little town with nothing to do.  It doesn’t have the charm of Purmamarca or the services of Tilcara, but abode houses, cobblestone streets, weaving shops, and one-off restaurants give the tone a pleasant feel nonetheless.   In short, it made a nice afternoon trip but I was happy with our choice to base ourselves in Tilcara.

After strolling around the plaza, a few side streets, and climbing up to see the local monument to the heroes of the wars of independence, we stopped for lunch.  Lunch was notable in that I tried llama for the first time – tastes like beef, except a little leaner and a texture somewhere between a pork chop and a lamb shank – and washed it down with some coca tea (which helped ameliorate the naseau and light-headness from the altitude) . 

After lunch, I felt surprisingly refreshed.  We walked a little more – I huffed and puffed a lot more – and we made our way to an express bus back to Tilcara.  An hour-an-half ride there took us forty-five minutes on the return.

Traveling Notes

As noted, Humahuaca is pleasant but there isn’t a whole lot to do there.  It is, however, the gateway to Iruya (which we won’t get to).  If you’re Spanish is passable – or just borderline – you can pretty easily figure the bus schedules between Tilcara and Humauca.  Even during the off-season, buses ran regularly throughout the day.  
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