Argentina: Jujuy, Purmamarca + Humahuaca *Final Hurrah*

On April 24 we took a short two hour bus ride north from Salta to Jujuy (hoo-hooey). While we really looked forward to visiting Salta, we honestly didn’t know anything about Jujuy before our arrival. Located in the upper northwest corner of Argentina, Jujuy turned out to be a lovely surprise. Besides being along the direct route to Bolivia, Jujuy is also the start of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, which is a 90 mile-long gorge dotted with indigenous communities living among beautifully colored rock formations. Plus, saying the name “Jujuy” is just so much fun!


Purmamurca: Field Trip

While very touristy, this little village in the gorge is home to the Hill of Seven Colors. We took a local bus on a sunny day to explore Purmamurca and hike in the colored mountains surrounding the area.


As we walked through town to begin our hike we saw a woman struggling to push a heavy cart up a big hill on a dirt road. Harry offered to help her and without hesitation she accepted. Together they grunted their way up the dusty hill.

IMG_7483 We had an incredible hike in the colored hills.


Humahuaca: Final Stop in Argentina

The last town in the gorge, we found Humahuaca to be the most authentically indigenous community that we visited in Argentina. We enjoyed hanging out in the main plaza watching the world go by. On our last day in Argentina we made friends with a women from Buenos Aires, which seemed like an appropriate ending to our first three months.



Bolivia Bound  

We had an incredible time in Argentina and feel grateful for all that we were able to experience. Onward to Bolivia!


Argentina: Salta *Musica Folklorica*

We arrived in Salta on April 18th after surviving our pretty relaxed 18-hour first-class bus journey from Mendoza. Salta, the biggest city in northwest Argentina, is known for its dramatic landscapes, laid-back lifestyle, and folk music. Salta is also home to a multitude of peñas, which are local gathering places for music and socializing. We first heard about Salta while we were in Buenos Aires and we’d been looking forward to visiting this lively city ever since.

Musica Folklorica

The first thing we noticed upon our arrival was that folk music was playing everywhere: inside restaurants, bars and shops as well as outside in public spaces. The music of the Andes features the sounds of flutes, string instruments and percussion. Passionate people by nature, Argentinians love their folk music and peñas are a part of everyday life for Salteños (folks from Salta).

We couldn’t resist the pull of the peñas and went out on three different nights to experience musica folklorica with the locals. Of course this meant catching a cab at 10:30 PM, eating a late dinner, and enjoying a bottle of Malbec while the musicians played their music. Look at us, acting like real Argentinians! I loved how the music took shape each night. Locals brought their guitars and flutes and took turns playing traditional folk songs while the crowd rhythmically clapped along. It was a special moment for us when the older man (pictured below) asked where we where from. Everyone clapped in our honor and then laughed good-naturedly as he sang Frank Sinatra’s classic hit, “New York, New York”. I belted out the lyrics the best I could while Harry clapped along. It was magic, pure peña magic.


Incan Ice Children 

Northwestern Argentina is the southern most region of the Inca Empire. Incan influences are visually tangible in Salta, creating a multicolored fabric blending old with new. The indigenous culture is ever present and the overall feel of the area is less European than the rest of Argentina.

The Museum of High Altitude Archaeology showcases a fascinating discovery. In 1999 a crew of archaeologists unearthed the bodies of three Incan children buried 500 years ago at 22,000 feet on top of the Andean Mount Llullaillaco. The children were killed in a ritual sacrifice and buried with youthful artifacts from their tribe. The cold and dry air preserved them and today they look eerily lifelike. One of the bodies is always on exhibit and it was pretty mind blowing to see the little girl dressed in the clothing she was wearing 500 years ago. It was a lot to wrap our minds around.

Salta: Around Town

We stayed in Salta for five days and kept ourselves busy exploring the city from top to bottom. We took the lazy way up to a fantastic vista by riding a cable car, but don’t worry, we walked the 1,000 steps back down. We happily found vendors making fresh fruit smoothies which reminded us of our stay in Santiago, Chile. I proudly sported my newish khaki travel pants with the zip-off legs all over town, looking more like a tourist than ever before. The tree-lined Plaza de 9 Julio was incredibly welcoming with its Spanish colonial architecture, grand churches and cobblestone streets.



Stunning Landscape

The landscape around Salta is truly phenomenal. One can experience high-altitude mountain peaks, deep gorges, valleys, wineries, and rainforests all in a day’s drive. We went on a fantastic day trip to Cachi, a village in the Andes. The views on this special day were spectacular.


Jujuy (hoo-hooey), Here We Come! 

We left Salta on April 23rd knowing that we only had one more week in Argentina, which was both exciting and a little sad. We never planned on spending three months exploring the country, but we sure had a great time doing so! We were very curious to see what Bolivia had in store for us. But first, we continued our journey north up to Jujuy for another few days of exploration and adventure. Yes, we agree — Jujuy is a really fun name to say!

Argentina: Cachi *Village in the Andes*

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.

Calchaqui Valley

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.


Mountain High

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.