Friday, July 8, 2016

The trail of the Tren de los Nubes to the Salinas Grandes

The view from the train - well, the road next to the tracks

From Humahuaca I returned to Salta to catch the bus to San Pedro in Chile, but unfortunately the bus only leaves on Thursdays so I had a day or two in Salta. From Salta there is a famous tourist train - Tren de los Nubes which I wanted to experience but sadly the train was not operating but there was a tour that followed the tracks and went further to the Salinas Grandes Argentinian salt flats.

The train was a feat of engineering for its time - needing to haul goods through the Andes.

Rail bridge

The track consists of many rail bridges and a huge number of shallow switchbacks to enable the train to haul more goods due to the lower gradient if the tracks.

Multiple low gradient switchbacks

The train winds its way through the mountains through spectacular scenery.
Coloured hills
Cactus 
More coloured hills 
The road alongside the tracks
More cactus

And local wildlife:
Llamas

Vicuñas

Until it reaches the copper mining town of San Antonio de los Cobres.

San Antonio de los Cobres

From here the tour headed to Las Salinas Grandes - the Argentinian salt flats.

The salt flats are still used to mine salt - as can be seen by the huge pile of salt that greets you at the entrance.

The salt flats

And the salt pools:

salt pools


more pools

salt crystals in the pools

And because the salt pan is so flat

Looking towards the horizon

You can have some fun with perspective:

Yes, I am *that* flexible

From the salt flats the bus climbed further into the mountains 

Very high

Before heading down towards Purmamarca and then returning to Salta.

The road down the mountain