Nature, customs and history combine in the 530 kms round ‘Valles Calchaquíes' in Salta province… This traditional tourist circuit offers multiple attractions, not only because of its different landscapes but also because of its architecture and culture reflected in their traditional celebrations and the kindness of its people. Departing from Salta city, southwards 68 NR and going through Valle de Lerma we can see different places with their own characteristics. Then on 33 NR the ride to Valle Calchaquí starts.
Cachi is located at the back of Valle Calchaquí 2,280 mts above sea level, 165 km away from Cafayate and 157 km away from Salta . Chiconas used to inhabit this place before the Spanish conquest. The settlement is located where Cachi and Calchaquí rivers meet. It keeps old houses along the narrow roads. You can see a XVIII C Parish Church and an Anthropological Museum and places of amazing beauty such as: Las Pailas, El Algarrobal, Cachi Adentro, 6 km away, where there are beautiful streams. Las Pailas and La Paya spots, where you can see the remains of pre-Columbian civilizations, Cerro de la Virgen, Ascent to Nevado de Cachi with a guide from the place, La Poma, Brealito Lagoon, Seclantás, Quebrada del Colte (artisans' way). You can also do horseback ridings, hire bikes, visit Pío Pablo Díaz Archaeology Museum and the Artisan market. The Festivals celebrated are Festival de la Tradición Calchaquí (Calchaquí Tradition Festival) and Song Festival, San José en Cachi ceremony with the thistle firing and Cerro de la Virgen Queen of the skies pilgrimage; Valle Calchaquí artisans' meeting and Vallista meal contest.
Los Molinos (the mills)
Located 116 km away from Cafayate and 92 km away from San Carlos , Los Molinos is a hill settlement in Valles Calchaquíes, it was founded by the middle of XVII C, where Human and Luracatao rivers meet and make up a mill. The geography of the place is irregular, with houses made of sun-dried brick and roofs made of soil. With galleries and arcades. The parish church built in 1639 stands out, where the mummified rests of the last royal governor, D. Nicolás Severo de Isasmendi, are found. Opposite the church we find the Treasury Department, which today is Hostal de Molinos (hotel)
Cafayate is located flanked by rivers and inside a belt of vineyards and wineries that can be visited. Artisan exhibitions are usually organised. There are ‘peñas' and ‘boliches' (folk enjoyment usually at night) bike and horse renting. Visits to Bravo Archeological Museum and crafts workshops. In February ‘Serenata' is celebrated, it is one of the most crowded folk festivals. 5 km upwards towards San Isidro , you can see caves with ancient cave paintings. You can also go for walks to Colorado river, do bike ridings, visit the artisans' path or the wineries, where you will be able to taste wines of international level like the ‘torrontes' or ‘varietal', unique in the world. As from Cafayate you can go on guided excursions to Yacochuya (place of vineyards and a lake with lush vegetation); La Cascada; La Cueva del Suri and the Molino de Piedra, you can also go horseback riding to Santa Teresita, do trekking and go in the dunes.
Dique Cabra Corral (Dyke)
A water mirror of 127 square kms located 65 km away from Salta city, taking provincial route 68 at Coronel Moldes and you reach El Préstamo Spot. It is the second biggest dam in Argentina and the main hydroelectric reservoir in the Argentinian Northwest. Cabra Corral, also offers an ideal place for sports and recreation. Around the lake you can do trekking, rides, mountaineering, climbing, mountain bike, horseback ridings, photo safaris, bird watching, agro tourism, among others. In the lake you can go fishing, sailing, rafting, among others.
Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds)
The Train to the Clouds makes up one of the most important attractions in the regions, because of its distinct characteristics: building, nature and cultural identity.
It is world famous not only because of its unique beauty and landscapes the rails go through but also because of its building and engineering. Touching the clouds is the last experience in this trip full of feelings and amazements.
The whole landscape is made up by the harmony of its colours that nature has placed in the hills, mountain range, tablelands and snowy mountains in the impressive Puna, and the magnificent railway engineering work, unique, due to its characteristics. The train circuit, form Salta city, covers: 11 viaducts, 2 zigzags, 2 curls and 9 tunnels, crossing a landscape of amazing beauty, with a total coverage of 434 km.
During a trip of around 15 hours, you cover little Andean towns and ancient civilization ruins that have mysteriously disappeared, until you reach ‘ Viaducto de la Povorilla' 5220 mts above sea level, in San Antonio de los Cobres.
QUEBRADA DEL TORO
Only 24 km away from Salta city, towards the west, national route 54 and built in the base of the mountain range, you have access to Campo Quijano, a town that combines natural and cultural attractions that represent Salta 's feeling. They invite you to enjoy the natural beauty of its different spots.
The picturesque gaucho town La Silleta, anticipates the beauty of the place together with its farms to spend a country day and rest; you can also enjoy the unique green of Cámara and the freshness of Las Lomitas water mirror, where not only can you practise water sports but also enjoy its facilities and spend a day with your family trying the typical meals of the region. There is a path with many ‘ceibales' and lowlands that take you to Rio Blanco summer village, of colonial architecture from 1914 and at one side there is the railway building of spectacular size on which the Train to the clouds runs on week after week.
In April La Pachamama Celebration is organised and in November ‘Tradición' day is celebrated with Gaucho skills and the selling of regional meals and crafts.
SANTA ROSA DE TASTIL
Going past Campo Quijano, also known as El Portal de los Andes , which precedes the impressive Quebrada del Toro, the route leads us to Santa Rosa de Tastil, one of the most important pre-Inca sites in the region, which has more than 2000 inhabitants, ruins and museums for archaeology lovers. You can also visit a field with cave paintings with representations of pre-Columbian life and the solar, lunar and Venus calendars from the Andean communities. Santa Rosa de Tastil celebrates Santa Rosa de Lima's Day, a religious ceremony with ‘misachicos' and where “Baile Ritual del Suri” (a dance) is performed.
SAN ANTONIO DE LOS COBRES
San Antonio de los Cobres is located in La Puna, with its church, its brand-new school and hotel and the mine workshops, gas pipelines and some other industry in the region. The Train to the Clouds stops at San Antonio and there are land excursions. The artisans sell their regional products. Fabric is the main work source for the women in the region. It is an ancient custom that is transmitted from generation to generation. The legendary ‘barracán' is knitted here, it is a thick fabric made of llama or sheep wool and it is characterised by the natural colours framework where white, black and brown stand out.
‘barracán' is used to prepare garments, coats and ‘ruanas' (a kind of shawl) and overcoats. In the last years, some local, regional, national and international designers have used it to prepare their garments and they have introduced them in fashion shows.
In San Antonio , the majority of women knit pullovers, waistcoats, socks, gloves, caps, ruanas, and blankets, among others, with sheep or llama wool.
To prepare this clothes, they use, in general three types of techniques: wool loom for ruanas and blankets, two knitting needles for pullovers and waistcoats and fine knitting needles for gloves and socks.
Many of them have ‘old looms' made of ‘cardón (typical wood in the region) and others have learned more modern techniques that reduce time and effort, but none wants to abandon the custom of knitting with ‘tola' (bush that is used as fuel) wood needles because they do not make the hands ache due to their flexibility.
Colonial and modern, always warm and safe, Salta city is attractive all year round. Its peacefulness and warmth, the attractive Hispanic appearance of its streets and the green of its surrounding hills and the goodness of its mild weather, frame the most varied activities.
Salta at night has new profiles, where not only are ‘peñas' night lovers' attraction but also pubs, casinos and clubs, tango places with amazing live shows, jazz and rock bars, cinemas and theatres.