Home > Argentina > Desert to Jungle in 3 hours

Desert to Jungle in 3 hours

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

On our last marathon car hire day, we took a short detour to see the traditional route people take to Cafayete from Salta (i.e. not the 250 km dirst track we had taken the day before). The valley has a famous reputation, and to be fair, it is pretty, and there are a couple of stunning sights, but you have to share it with other tourists!

 

 

a tale of 2 climates - we were not expecting cacti in vineyards

We were most bemused in one place, where initially we were on our own, to be joined by 2 bus loads of tours, as if by magic, some panpipes and guiters started up (the buskers are on some sort of PIR sensor), and before we knew it there was a throng of dancing, clapping stomping touring Argentines around us. I am glad they knew how to enjoy themselves, but for us shy and retiring Brits, it was an awful display of exuberance!
Getting back on the main road, counting our lucky blessings that we had taken the harder route the previous day, we crossed the deserted landscape, stopped for a quick tour of the pre-Incan ruins of Quilmes, and headed over the valley to the road that was going up over the pass towards our destination – Tucuman.

Quilmes named after the local beer

The road was steep and windy, and a couple of hours in we approached the level of the clouds, within minutes we were in the thickest fog imaginable, the rain started and the visibility dropped to 10 metres or so. We progressed on up, eventually reaching the top of the hill in a white out and started to drop down the other side.
The road deteriorated, but the most remarkable thing was not the sheer drops to the side of the muddy, hairpin laden road, but the change from dry dusty cacti land, to a lush dense rainforest! The route wound its way down for about an hour, dropping several thousand feet, before levelling off at a high altitude basin popular with local portenos, something more akin to an alpine scene with picturesque chalets, before dropping again along rutted, wet, slippery, muddy roads into the valley below to meet up with the main highway into Tucuman.
I met up with the car hire man on Platform 10 of the bus station, he kindly took the car, and our epic 4 day drive was over.

after the previous arid days where it rains only 5 days per year, this side of the hill was unbelievable

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