Days: 361 (21 June 2015)
Total distance travelled: 79,925.76 kilometres (49,643.33 miles)
It was before the sun had risen that we sat ready, awaiting our collection for that mornings excursion to the Quebrada de Cafayate…
Our van arrived to collect us and suddenly, just like that, we weren’t headed south anymore.
Instead our schedule had been altered and we were now headed north to that other, UNESCO World Heritage listed valley, the Quebrada de Humahuaca.
As the landscape was slowly illuminated, the brightening daylight gave colour to our surrounds and we were presented with what appeared a pretty arid environment.
This dry scrubby valley, hemmed in on either side by rocky crags, allowed us passage to wind our way ever closer to the Bolivian border (although we’d not get all that close to it), eventually pausing at the small town of Purmamarca.
The town was a cute affair, something more akin to what we’d already visited in rural Peru or Bolivia.
A colourful market (geared towards the tourists) was in full swing, although except for a few delicious empanadas, there was little to interest us primarily as we’d only brought a token amount of money, thinking this tour was not until the morrow.
Still, the reason this village has a profile is above and around it, the Seven Colour Hill.
Look to the hills, and amazing colour you shall see…
Although in truth, with the Suns position at the time, and the high walls and narrow streets inhibiting our view, we got better views from just outside the town.
It was a thing of beauty, and thankfully for us, it was just a fraction of the colour that could be spied in the hills that line the Quebrada de Humahuaca.
Before we were to enjoy that however, there was another scheduled stop at the ‘ruins’ of Pucara de Tilcara.
I used the term ruins in inverted commas here, as in truth, there was little that was actual ruin… in fact the entire site appears to be a rebuild/reconstruction and would have been a complete disappointment, but for one ridiculously cute puppy we encountered whilst there.
So after in our opinion wasting our entrance fee, we continued on up the colourful valley towards the actual town of Humahuaca.
Here there was a scheduled lunch stop, and despite originally being advised we’d be close enough to town to find several lunch options, the reality saw us dumped within the grounds of a hotel establishment that was possibly at the height of its grandeur during the Cuban Missile Crisis… certainly the sterile, austere feel of the place matched that period!
With insufficient funds on our person, we settled for a few empanadas and shared a beer before we were eventually guided into the town proper.
The place was cute enough, and we were given some free time to wander, time that proved more than sufficient (that said, the town did appear cute enough that it wouldn’t have been a horrible place to spend a night).
That was to prove the most northerly point of our excursion, yet despite having passed it earlier, it was here on the return leg that we were allowed a few moments to check out the Tropic of Capricorn, the second of the five major circles of latitude we’d straddled on this trip (the other being the Equator).
More colourful hills were spied, with allowances made for photo opportunities along the way.
By now, one would have thought we’d have had enough of staring at colourful rocks, but it obviously wasn’t the case.
In truth, we probably didn’t need as long as we had at some of the roadside stops, but we had to appeal to all amongst our group, and in reality we didn’t tarry long enough that we were left frustrated (often group tours can be painfully slow).
There was a final stop again in Purmamarca, where two others who’d parted company with us in the morning we’re re-collected (it had gone unnoticed by me, but apparently they’d gone on a salt flats tour instead), then it was back to Salta where we just had sufficient time to race to the supermarket for groceries before closing time!
* We booked a combined Cafayate/Humahuaca tour (over 2 days) with Turismo de la Posada for $570.00 pesos per person. www.turismolaposada.com
* Entrance into the archaeological site at Pucara de Tilcara cost us $50.00 pesos per person.