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.


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

Saturday, June 25, 2016

San Salvador De Jujuy, Purmamarca and the Cerro de Siete Colores

Cerro de Siete Colores and Purmamarca 

Purmamarca is a small town about an hour's bus ride from the capital, San Salvador de Jujuy.

San Salvador de Jujuy is not much of a town despite being the capital of Jujuy province - the Cathedral is about the only thing that is remotely interesting.

The Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

The main plaza

It is good that just outside of the city are the much more interesting Northern towns of Purmamarca, Tilcara and Humuaca.

Purmamarca is known for its multi coloured hill that is just outside of the town.

The 7 coloured hill

The hill is easily accessible from a road leading from the town centre .

Looking towards the town centre

The road leads up to a small lookout (entry $ARS5 - about $AUD0.5) from which you can observe the hill and the town.

The hill

Purmamarca from the lookout

From the bottom of the lookout is a trail that leads around the hill, exposing a range of coloured landscapes.
The mountain range that joins with the Cerro de Siete Colores 

Another photo of the mountain range
The trail behind the hill
More coloured hills
Looking down the valley

The trail leads back to the main road and (across the road) another (very steep)trail to another lookout which gives great views of the town.

The town from the second lookout

Panoramic view of Purmamarca

Monday, June 20, 2016

Salta - A European city in the North

The main square in Salta

The capital of Salta province is a beautiful European style city surrounded by hills. Sitting in the central plaza you could easily imagine yourself in Madrid or some other Spanish city.

Colonial style buildings around the main square

The plaza is a central meeting point for the locals and is always vibrant and busy with locals and tourists alike enjoying the outdoor dining and pleasant park.

Plaza 9 de Julio

On one side if the square is the historic town hall, now a museum.

Museum of the North

The museum tells the history of the North and it is worth a visit both for the historic content and to admire the colonial architecture of the building.

Inside the museum

And the views of the Plaza.

Plaza 9 de Julio from the museum

The other side of the Plaza is dominated by the cathedral, one of many impressive churches in the city.

Salta Cathedral

Iglesia de Viña

The other side of Iglesia de Viña

Including several historic 17th century convents.

San Bernardo convent

San Francisco convent

Just outside of the centre of the city is a teleferico which takes you to the top of Cerro San Bernardo for spectacular views of the city.

The city from Cerro San Bernardo

The surrounding hills from Cerro San Bernardo

The hill itself has pleasant gardens which make for a relaxing afternoon.

The gardens

Salta is one of the most beautiful and vibrant South American cities that I have visited so far. It has a cool, laid back vibe but is still vibrant and fun. It has been one if my favourite cities so far.

Plaza 9 de Julio