Days: 362 (22 June 2015)
Total distance travelled: 80,323.76 kilometres (49,890.53 miles)
Another early morning, another group tour.
Collected again for the second morning running, it was amusing to see a handful of familiar faces from the previous days northern excursion to Quebrada de Humahuaca (where we’d originally been told we’d be visiting today).
Thankfully today was not to be a double up, and pretty soon we were hurtling south… okay, possibly not so fast, but at least headed in the right direction for the Quebrada de Cafayate.
It wasn’t long before this sun filled morning was presenting us with a rugged red landscape, certainly more scenic than the previous days, albeit lacking in the vast array of mineral colour within the mountainous terrain.
It felt like we’d barely settled into our small seats, when our bus ground to a halt and we were all piling out.
We in fact had two stops here along the side of the road, seriously within walking distance of each other (yet for some reason we had to board the bus again to reach the other).
Both were essentially natural chimneys carved by water and wind out of the solid rock, the first the Garganta del Diablo (Devils Throat), the second known only as the Amphitheatre (fitting, with a local busker inside showing off its natural acoustics).
They were both pretty impressive, but signs advising visitors to climb no further up the potentially unstable rock face did little to deter some dickheads who proceeded to do just that!
Still shaking our heads in wonder, we were soon back aboard and trundling down another short stretch of road.
Our destination, a small roadside lookout known as Tres Cruces.
A second seriously brief roadside stop allowed us to take in the beautiful surrounding views, before we were again to be found winding our way deeper into, and ever closer to the floor of this picturesque valley.
Our next stop was by a shack I can only liken to a tacky souvenir hut, but with a little charm.
A cracked and now disused former highway sat across the way like something out of a George Miller Mad Max scene, which in our barren, red earth surrounds was very believable.
Some unshorn Llama wandered about, which for a fee you could feed by hand, their mouths eager to lap the corn kernels off tourists palms… or if your own mouth was in need of action, you could purchase some of their local whisky.
We were interested in neither, so instead took some time out to admire some of the colourful landscape and an inquisitive Llama before we continued along to a winery just outside of the Cafayate town itself.
Here, a staff member was cleverly selling empanadas (we indulged in some) as by now stomachs were rumbling.
There was also the small matter of sampling some of their product, which proved to be a not bad Torrontes (white) and a rather delicious Malbec (red).
Delicious enough in fact that we grabbed ourselves a bottle… surely we’d find a use for it somewhere in the future!
Soon we found ourselves in the town proper, where the ‘recommended’ restaurant turned out to be an overpriced tourist den, so we opted for cheese and biscuits in the park.
Now Cafayate is well known, if not completely well regarded for taking its fine wines in another direction.
That is, using them as flavours for local ice cream!
That’s correct, to follow on from our Chachapoyas (a small city in Peru) beer ice cream experience, we were now about to indulge in a Malbec version.
Now what could be better than just wine? Why wine with chocolate of course, so we paired our Malbec with an Italian Chocolate.
The chocolate flavour was pretty delicious… the wine flavour.
I’d like to say it just wasn’t my thing (which it wasn’t), but instead I’m going to say it was a little bit shit…
Still, at least we can say we tried it!
We thought we’d kill some time checking out a local wine museum, however after learning the entrance fee, we promptly dismissed that plan, and simply wandered the streets, taking in small snippets of funky, artistic work.
Quebrada de Cafayate was stunning.
The town of Cafayate and indeed the local wines we sampled, were impressive.
Malbec ice cream however… it was pretty shit!
* We booked a combined Cafayate/Humahuaca tour (over 2 days) with Turismo de la Posada for $570.00 pesos per person. www.turismolaposada.com