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DIY in Cafayate

September 20, 2009

Cafayate is a really incredible place in Argentina, and one that I would highly recommend. I went only on a day trip from Salta, but I could definitely have justified staying a night or two in the wonderful little town.

At first, we wanted to take a tour from Salta to Cafayate for the day. Unfortunately, as it was a holiday, we were unable to get ahold of the travel agency we had received a flyer from, stating a price of about 150 pesos. At our hostel  the worker called some agency and then told us it would be more than 500 pesos each! That’s well over US$100! We were aghast at the idea, and obviously were not going to take that option.
After some consideration we decided to just go to Cafayate ourselves and try to figure it out from there. The hardest part about doing it on your own is that the biggest draw of Cafayate is actually the Quebrada de Cafayate (or de Concha), which is 20-48km outside the city. So we bought a 35 peso ticket for the bus to Cafayate the next morning (which we almost missed because my alarm didn’t go off!) and were on our way. After 3 1/2 hours we pulled up in town and were immediately met by a woman from a hostel in town, offering us a 50 peso tour starting at 2:30. We talked with her more and found that we could catch the last bus back to Salta at the end of our tour, ending at the sight of Garganta del Diablo which was 48km from Cafayate (toward Salta) for only 26 pesos for the bus back! We couldn’t believe our luck…110 pesos tour that was probably much better than the 500-some pessos tour the hostel in Salta offered!
Wine tasting with Natalie and Cris

Wine tasting with Natalie and Cris

We then had a few hours to kill, so we walked around town, grabbed some cheap empanadas, and then headed to the bodegas, or wineries. Cafayate is actually the place of the highest vineyards in the world! We did a wine tour at one place and did a couple tastings in a couple different bodegas. We tried torrontes, a fruity white wine that Cafayate is known for which was quite good, as well as some Malbecs and Cabernet Sauvignons. It was really good — and all free! Very nice indeed.

After that I bought some wine ice cream, torrontes flavored, which was quite interesting — it really was wine, in icey/ice cream form! Strange but not bad. Then we waited around on the rooftop of the hostel (very nice) for our tour.



The tour to the quebrada was absolutely amazing! I couldn’t believe how beautiful the scenery was. There were all kinds of wonderful, bright red, rock formations. We were able to just stop off and walk and climb among them, so much fun! It reminded me quite a bit of out West in the States. Our guide was also playing this fun tribal music that made us feel like we were on safari (we joked around spotting giraffes and rhinos! hehe) and also reminded me a lot of Morocco, and our trip from Marrakesh to the Sahara.

More beauty

More beauty

The tour continued on to see many different rock formations — shaped like everything from monks to frogs! — and some really incredible red, red mountains. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking! And our adventurous guide led us up to all kinds of mountain top trails we would have never found for ourselves.



Finally the tour ended at the last two and most famous sights — El Anfiteatro (the amphitheater) and La Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). Both were spectacular gorges. The first had incredible acoustics, and there were a number of people playing music (including a bunch of guys also on our tour who were in an Argentinian hippie-ish band, “El Indio”). The second was just an incredible place that we could climb up and up and up into (being swallowed by the dragon!).

After that we waited for the bus and took a three hour drive back to Salta. It was a really, really wonderful day. We had a ton of fun and were really glad that we did it all on our own.
My time in Argentina is now through and I am off to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. I will miss Argentina a lot though. I have some great memories of the country — saw some amazing places, met some very cool people, and had some really wonderful times. It is certainly a place I would like to return to someday.

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