Cachi is a small mountain village in Salta Province in northwestern Argentina. Located four hours away from where we were staying in Salta, Harry and I joined a tour (yes, we joined a tour) to experience this special place. We ended up having a truly fabulous day and here are two of the reasons why:
1. Our tour guide Eduardo was an incredibly kind and patient man. In addition to speaking both Spanish and English, he was happy to share his wealth of information with us and never tired of all our questions. He seemed truly happy to be our guide and passionate about the area we were exploring.
2. There were only 14 of us on the tour, which is a small enough number to fit into a van rather than a huge tour bus, making our group feel more intimate. The other people were from Buenos Aires so of course we liked them immediately. They were doing a 10-day tour of the area and were on full-blown vacation mode. Several of the couples took an immediate interest in both of us and made sure we were having a good time in all that we did. While they only spoke a little English, we were able to chat enough in Spanish to keep them amused. We laughed a lot in the van, especially when they blurted out random English words like “Miami Beach”, “thank you” and “one, two, three”. They took us under their wings and made sure we didn’t miss anything authentically Argentinian when we stopped along the way.
The jaw-dropping scenery never ended. We started out by driving through two gorges with thick rainforest vegetation and spectacularly colored mountains.
We drove up the windy, ribbon-like road until we reached a major view point just short of the summit. We took a welcome break to walk around and soak it all in. Harry bought llama jerky at a stand from a local man selling his wares while I befriended his pet llama.
After 80 kilometers we crossed the mountain pass and the greenery gave way to an arid environment. Cactus dotted the landscape and the colorful mountains became even more vivid.
Cachi is a picturesque village that’s tucked away in the lap of the Nevado de Cachi range in the Andes. The cobblestones streets, 18th century church, adobe houses and tranquil plaza were all very charming and make Cachi a special place. On the way into town we passed fields of red peppers drying in the sun, soon to be turned into paprika.
All-You-Can-Eat Goat Fest
Our lively new friends invited us to lunch and made room at their table before we could even think about saying no. The grill was hot, the goat was sizzling and the chef was overzealous with his cleaver. Staff came round and round with trays of freshly grilled chunks of goat until it was clear that everyone had their fill. Our friends kept Harry’s plate full, saying that he was too skinny to stop eating. I was going to try a bite, I seriously was, but then I saw a few goat hairs on the plate so I munched on my salad instead.
Los Cardones National Park
On the way home we passed through Los Cardones (cactus) National Park and had a short walk through the ancient fields of these oddly shaped desert plants. The cactus went on as far as the eye could see. I found them fascinating.
Here we are at 11,341 feet, feeling elated from such a wonderful day! When the van pulled into town and our friends from Buenos Aires got off the bus, they gave us a round of applause and big hugs for sharing the adventure with them. What a treat! I guess tours aren’t so bad, after all.