Since we had more time then we had anticipated in the Salta area because of a massive landslide, we decided to rent a car and follow the circular route from Salta to Cachi to Cafayate and back to Salta. If time permits this is a route that definitely should not be missed, the scenery along the entire drive is incredible!
On the first day we drove from Salta to the village of Cachi. The road took us through the high mountain area of Cuesta del Obispo to an altitude of 3,457 meters. Here we spotted condors flying high above us but it was a little stormy so the views were clouded in and it was quite chilly.
As we descended from the Piedra del Molino the landscape changed and became more arid. This area is known as The Tin Tin Straight Line. It’s a perfectly straight line that crosses Los Cardones National Park. Here we saw Guanacos or Vicunas (I don’t know how to tell the difference) and an area where the desert flowers were blooming.
We arrived in Cachi and absolutely loved this little town. Cachi is what I imagined an Argentinian town would look like. We drove around, found a cute hotel, and spent the night. We enjoyed walking around the town and sampling the food – the street empanadas were delicious.
The next morning after breakfast we hit the road to Cafayate. We knew the road wasn’t paved on this stretch but we had no idea how rough it was from the washboards and we had to drive ridiculously slow. The scenery certainly made up for the slow driving! The drive took us through the Calchaqui Valleys and Quebrada de los Flechas with multicoloured geographical formations.
It was so hot and our car was over heating so we pulled in to a winery to take a break. Unfortunately they were closed but we stayed for a while, walked around a bit, and then continued on.
Finally we arrived in Cafayate and we spent a few nights here so that we could explore the surrounding area. The town is pretty and it’s easy to walk everywhere.
The following morning we drove to the ruins of Quilmes and passed by many wineries, we both agreed that we would stop for wine after the hike around the ruins. This archaeological site was the largest pre-columbian settlement in Argentina dating back to 850 AD. It’s best to visit early because it gets very hot and there’s little to no shade here.
Cafayate is well renowed for producing some great wines, so on our way back from the ruins we visited the Finca Quara Winery for a tour and some tastings. Fun!
Cafayate also makes incredible wine icecream, yes that’s right icecream made with WINE! I loved it!!
After a few lovely days in Cafayate we made the scenic drive back to Salta. We had a map detailing all the scenic stops along the way and they were all awesome.
My favourite stop was a hike we did to Los Estratos. This was absolutely incredible, it was like hiking in a painting.
Sometimes being delayed isn’t a bad thing, we loved this little side trip!
Where we stayed in Cachi: Casablanca Cachi Hosteria 👍
Where we stayed in Cafayate: Hotel Killa Cafayate 👍