Saturday, May 28, 2016

Amaicha and the Quilmes ruins

A cactus with the Quilmes ruins in the background

Over the hills from Tafí del Valle is the tiny town of Amaicha. Even though it is only a few hours bus ride away the landscape is entirely different to the lush green of Tafí.

Once the bus has driven over the high mountains (3000m) the landscape changes to an arid landscape.

The road to Amaicha

The town itself is a tiny village of dirt roads surrounding a small plaza.

The main plaza

There isn't much to see within the town itself, but close by are several treks through the arid scenery.

Around 8 km from the town is a short trek to a small waterfall. The trek brings you through a spectacular canyon formed by erosion from the river.

The canyon entrance

The trail winds down a steep path to the river that flows out of the canyon.

The river at the canyon entrance

The trail then follows the river as the canyon walls surround you.

Looking back from inside the canyon

Until it reaches a small waterfall.

The waterfalls

There is a ladder that leads to the second set of falls.

The second falls

The trail stops at this point and you have to retrace your steps to exit back into the river valley which you can then follow back to Amaicha.

The river valley

The other point of interest in Amaicha are the Quilmes ruins - the ruins of a pre-Incan town that successfully resisted Spanish control for 130 years.

The ruins are about 15km out of Amaicha and are easily reachable by taxi. They are situated on the side of a steep hill overlooking a flat plain. 

The Quilmes ruins

From the topology of the landscape, it is easy to see just how defensible this settlement was.

The plains overlooked by the ruins

From the entrance you are able to walk through the ruins and there are short free guided tours of the lower parts of the site.

The lower part of the ruins

And after you can climb the steep hills for a birds-eye view of the site. Which at one stage had more than 1000 inhabitants.

The ruins from the hills

A view from higher up

The ruins and the plains

The Quilmes people eventually succumbed to the Spanish invaders and were rounded up and forcibly marched thousands of kilometres to Buenos Aires to a settlement that still bears their name. Inevitably many died on the march and in the new settlement at Quilmes in Buenos Aires.

The descendants of the Quilmes people have now returned to the Quilmes community and have restored and protected the ruins as an important part of their history.

A geko amongst the ruins

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