Saturday 4 August 2018

North West Argentina

We finished our last post saying that we would be very sad to say good bye to Chile and its wonderful people. Well we have said goodbye and are currently in Bolivia at the Salar de Uyuni. This is an amazing place and I will add more detail about it  in a later post.

So how did we get here.

We left San Pedro and climbed up to nearly 5000 meters up the  toward the Border with Bolivia.

Our aim was the "Eduardo Avaroa" National park which is only about 20 km inside Bolivia.

Most of this park is between 4500 meters and 5000 meters in altitude. We really didn't know how the truck would perform at this level. Anything that requires combustion is really affected up there.

We needn't of worried the truck and its appliances worked well although with diminished power. However, we felt like we were wearing lead boots and breathing through a straw. Just a short walk and were were puffed out.

The park has three main lakes. Laguna Blanca, Laguna Verde and Laguna Colorado. We spent the first night on the shore of Laguna Verde trying to aclimatise.

The next day we drove the 60km off road track to Colorado. This was a tough drive and I actually didn't relish the idea of the return trip .

It was however, worth every lump, bump and swear word. Both lakes were amazing.

We checked out of Bolivia the way we came in, back into Chile , and set of towards Argentina over the Jama Pass . We were lucky the pass was clear as it had been close due to snow just a few days before. 

After a quick stop for a leg stretch in the very pretty tourist town of Purmamarca we settled for the night in the town of Tilcara.

From the main road the town looked almost unremarkable but once inside it was a very pretty centre with a night market and many great restaurants and bars.  We opted for the restaurant "El Nuevo Progreso "

We were a bit shocked when we got the bill, it was a bit bigger than we expected . It was a peice of A3 paper .

You can clearly see that I had the Llama, Pat had the lamb and the coke was diet coke, obviously.

Probably the best meal we have had in South America so far.  We enjoyed it so much that we altered our future plans to ensure we got another go a few weeks later.

A few days later we found ourselves in the city of Salta. 

We had learnt that the road to Salta from Lago Cienaga was very narrow and at most just one vehicle width wide . Research told us that you should never do this journey at the weekend as meeting oncoming cars is a problem. So we waited until Monday. 
Little did we know that it was in fact a Holiday Monday and that every day tripper in Argentina was heading our way. Pat did not enjoy this trip.

Now we are not really city people but we did like Salta as it was small enough to walk comfortably , and it was very clean, tidy and friendly.

Ruta 40 from Cachi to Cafayate was blessed us with some amazing scenery.

On this route we made a stop at the Colome Winery and did the tour . Neither of us  really drink wine but you have probably realised that we seem to be attracted to Wineries like moths to a lantern. The tour was fantastic, a great meal and the bonus was that the owner had created a museum of light, dedicated to the art work of the famous American "James Turrell" . 

Its ok we hadn't heard of him either.

Who would have thought there would be a modern fully climate controlled Art Gallery in the middle of the desert. 

Anyway, back to James Turrell. I know some of you are about to throw your ipads down in disgust shouting neanderthal , but it was all a bit modern for me.

The exhibits were all rooms with coloured light projected onto the walls. Some were very clever giving a false sense of depth and perspective. 

I am just not sure when fairground type illusions becomes art. Either way it was a great experience and  I dutifully nodded at all the right time giving the impression I understood it like everyone else. The Emperors new clothes comes to mind.

I think Pat got it.

That night we parked in a nearby dry river bed and met a wonderful Brazillian couple called Romulo and Aline. 

We travelled with them to Cafayate .

Cafayete was a nice town but in our usual style we hit the local winery . El Porvenir Winery  is a much smaller family affair but still a great tour .

The Brazillians appear to have a very accurate way of measuring things 

The question is will our truck fit between those trees 

Not entirely sure what Aline is measuring here

Ruta 68 back towards Salta should have taken about 4 hours but actually took a day and a half.

We stopped for lunch in a dry river bed about 40 minutes out of Cafayate and in our common style we just could be bothered to carry on . It was a beautiful spot so we decided to stay the night . 

The next day we discovered two geological features known as the "Amphitheatre"and the "Garganta del Diablo"

After a quick stop back in Salta and then back to Tilcara for another great meal, we set of for Bolivia.

Hasta Luego