Moving back south towards Mendoza we decided to take a different route from which we came up north. Our next destination was Cafayate the famous wine city. And the road went by the scenic Quebrada de las Conchas.
It’s close to the end of our Argentina road trip. So if you are interested what we did earlier then check it out:
- San Agustin de Valle Fertil
- San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca (with Ischigualasto Provinical Park)
- San Salvador de Jujuy
- San Salvador de Jujuy (with Hornocal Humahuaca and Purmamarca)
- Salta (with Salinas Grandes)
- Belen (with Cafayate)
- Famatina (with Fiambala)
Quebrada de las Conchas
When choosing which route to take our main plan was just to get to Cafayate. So after some discussions we took the Ruta 68 from Salta. And I’m glad we did. We had no idea that the route we chose will be one of the most scenic we had driven in Argentina. The distance of the road is about 200 km and Google estimates about 3 hours for this but I can assure you should at least double it. Just there are so many amazing sceneries that it would be a sin not to stop for a moment to enjoy the view.
While the area is not officially a national park it surely deserves this title. The second part of the road is also known as Quebrada de las Conchas or Broken Shells. The name comes from the seashells and other fossils that were found in the rocks. So probably the mountains used to be under water and came up when the Andes were formed.
The landscape by the road is nicely decorated with mainly reddish and greenish colors. And while the whole road is stunning there are several more popular landmarks as you get closer to Cafayate. Not sure if they all are worth stopping but we visited a few of them.
Garganta del Diablo which in translation means Devil’s Throat is a spot where you can get little active and climb inside the canyon. It’s not as easy as it looks but still doable. Of course there’s a sign that says you can do it at your own risk.
A little bit further is a place called Anfiteatro that obviously got its name from the ability to amplify sounds. There are also few musicians kindly showcasing it. From them you can buy their music and outside the Amphitheater it’s possible to buy other local products like souvenirs and wines (the first signs of approaching a wine region). Since the wine is pretty cheap in the area then we also bought a bottle.
Cafayate is not very highly populated town with its only ~12 000 inhabitants but it surely is one of the most popular among the wine lovers. It is also one of the main stopping points for the tourists that are exploring nearby Valles Calchaquíes. The area’s dry and mild climate is the reason why so many wines are produced there.
Like in Mendoza it is possible to take tours in the local wine-cellars (bodegas). Some of them are free and some might cost a little money. Because we got there in a midday then most of the places were closed as usually (remember I told you about Argentinian customs to eat very late). Still we were able to find two bodegas that were able to provide us a wine tasting and a tour. The first one cost 40 ARS (tasting four local wines) and the second was for free. In addition many eating places offer wine ice creams (helados de vino). I must admit it’s a pretty good idea and the taste is also not bad at all.
Airbnb – We had a little hard time finding the right location due to limited free Wi-Fi possibilities (in the whole town). But when we finally got there we were nicely welcomed. The hosts speak many languages: Spanish, French and even a little bit English. According to the booklets and other informative materials found in the hallway the nearby areas seem to be pretty interesting and definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately we were there only for a night to keep moving south in the morning.
The next morning we were pleasantly surprised by the host Laetitia’s homemade bread. It was really good for a breakfast and worked perfectly as my birthday cake, haha. The whole place actually had a little rural flavor in it. For example heating the water for shower was done with wood. That wasn’t a problem though and we never run out of hot water. Only issue was that the rooms/bedspreads were kinda dusty. The hosts say it is usual in that region and is caused by the windy weather at that time of year.