Touring Calchaquíes Valleys
The first journey begins in Salta at 8:30. At the beginning, we will drive towards the west on a paved road, but after a few kilometers when we start to ascend, the conditions change. We will drive up the famous Cuesta del Obispo, which has an altitude difference of 1100m in 20 kms, reaching 3348m above sea level in Piedra del Molino into Los Cardones National Park.
Once there, we will descend to Valle Encantado (Enchanted Valley), a small valley that marks the transition between two eco regions: Monte and Pre-puna.
If the weather conditions allow us, we might be gifted with the majestic flight of a condor over us. After Valle Encantado, around 40 kms away, we will visit Valle de Tonco, which is a place unknown by most of the people and whose entrance is restricted only to tourist operators and with a special permission given by Administracion de Parques Nacionales (National Parks Administration).
There we will see a geological formation called Yacoraite in its greatest expression, the same formation that you can see in the famous Seven Colors hill. Continuing with our trip, after we leave Los Cardones National Park, we will come across Payogasta village and few minutes later we will arrive in Cachi where we will have lunch and visit its picturesque chapel and archeological museum.
We will check in at the hotel where we will be spending the night and the rest of the day is up to you, you can enjoy the historical village and the silence of the nature. The dinner and the hotel are not included in the price.
Early in the morning, around 9:00 AM, we will drive south on the famous Route 40 through other small villages such as: San José, Seclantás and finally Molinos, which is also known as 'the poncho capital'.
In Molinos, there is a historical chapel that was built on the 17th century and a vicunas breeding place that belongs to a local artisanal cooperative. After visiting Molinos, we will take an internal route up to the west for just half an hour in order to get to Estancia Colomé.
We have two interesting places to see in this site: first; a winery where you will try the products/have a lunch (not included in the price) and then, believe it or not, there is the Museum of Modern Art James Turrell. It is incredible to see this in the middle of nowhere! It is amazing.
Alter leaving Colomé, we will keep driving to the south, crossing small villages on the way such as Angataco, Santa Rosa, the beauty of Quebrada de Las Flechas (Arrows Gorge), San Carlos and finally, we will get to Cafayate city just on time to check in at the hotel and for the rest of the day, you are free to walk around the town and have dinner on your own.
After breakfast, around 9:00 AM, the first activity of the journey is visiting the new Museum of Grape and Wine, where we can see and learn a lot about the region and its history, from the origin of the geology to actual days, focusing, of course, on the wine industry and the process of wine making.
After this, it will be a good time to visit one of the wineries in Cafayate countryside where we can try their products and then have a lunch (not included in the trip.)
After lunch, we will return to Salta on a nice paved route with many places to pull over and take pictures of strange rock formations that were sculpted by the wind and water erosion many thousand years ago. The name of the canyon is Quebrada del Rio Las Conchas and will connect us with Lerma Valley again where Salta city is over the southern part. Estimated arrival time in Salta: around 6:00 PM.