Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Trekking around Tilcara

The hills behind Tilcara - the stones spell out "Bienvenidos a Tilcara"

Tilcara is a small town about an hour North from Purmamarca. It is the site of a large pre-hispanic village called Pucará.

The ruins are about 2 km from the town centre on top of a hill overlooking the river valley.

The view from Pucará

Many of the ruins have been rebuilt for the tourists but on the lower part of the hill the ruins are original, including a graveyard 

The circular graves where mummies were buried

And the foundations and walls of houses.

A part of the ruins

The structure in the centre of the ruins looks like it is some sort of religious temple - but is in fact merely a monument to the archaeologists who first excavated the site.

The monument

On the other side of Tilcara is another pleasant 2 km walk to the Laguna de los Patos. The lagoon itself is not all that impressive

The lagoon

But the walk takes you through some of the farming communities around Tilcara.

A herd of donkeys

Further afield from Tilcara is the little town of Maimara.

Maimara

The town can be reached by following the river valley - however there has been a lot of construction along the river which obscures the road and makes it easy to get very lost (like I did) and there are few "bridges" (ie. Logs and boards) across the river.

The river road

However, the scenery through the farms along the walk is quite pretty.

Farmland with coloured mountains

Farmland by the river

Back in Tilcara, I went to one of the peñas in a bar across from my hostel. Unlike the peñas in Salta which were mainly for the tourists, the ones in Tilcara are very local affairs with much music and dancing.

The whole bar was dancing (yes, including me - considering the band made an effort to call out the only Australian in the bar)

And even the local kids get involved jamming with the band.

This kid really shredded the pan pipes

The peña went well into the night which made the next day's trekking to the Gargantua del Diablo harder than it should've been.

The start of the trail

This steep 8km trek leads to a big canyon that was formed by tectonic plate movement rather than water. The trail leads through desert past countless giant cacti.

The trail through the desert

And eventually leads to the canyon.

The canyon

It's hard to capture how deep the canyon is through photos, but this sign may give an indication.

It's very high

At the bottom of the canyon there is a short 1km trek up the canyon floor to a waterfall.

The canyon floor

The waterfall

The total round trip is about 18km, and after the peña the night before, I was ready to relax with some local food before heading to the next Northern town: Humahuaca.

Llama capaccio

Llama steak