We left steamy Salta and headed along Route 68 towards the wine region of Cafayate, a route that we have heard is amazing. It did not fail to disappoint, and after we had gone through a number of smallish towns we entered into the phenomenal Quebrada de Cafayate. It is hard to describe just how beautiful the land formations are along this route not to mention confusing that there could be so many different colours of soil and geologic layering. It is quite possible that when we head back to Chile we will come through Argentina again to see this valley once more!
|Quebrada de Cafayate|
The number of wineries (Bodegas) increased the closer we got to Cafayate which is set in a luscious valley surrounded by mountains. We booked into a campsite (which oddly charges per person, per tent and per vehicle – actually pretty common we have come to learn in Argentina) just in time before the afternoon shower and relaxed the rest of the afternoon watching the storm pass over and locals enjoying family time in the campground
|Future wine !|
|Pyramid of house wine|
Our friend, Sebastian (Argentinian fellow biker), had asked us in the morning if we would like to have a braai (asado) with him that evening. Assuming the more the merrier, we invited Heather and Oliver to join us! Little did we know that when we told Sebastian that 2 more people would be joining the braai he would head out and buy 3kgs of meat for all of us! Goodness what a fantastic evening of local wines and mass meat feast! Argentinians could definitely teach South Africans a few things when it comes to braaing, they have it down to an art and boy do they love their meat!!
|Sebastian and 3kg of meat yummi !!|
Ruinas de Quilmes is the site where the over 5000 strong Quilmes tribe used to live. This tribe was known for its strength and struggle to defend their home against the attacking Inca’s and Spaniards. It was only in 1650’s that they were defeated after the Spaniards cut off their water supply forcing them to surrender. They were then made to walk to Buenos Aires where a camp was set up for them outside of town. Rumour has it that this was an arduous walk and many did not survive. Today there are a few descendants of this tribe in the area, and we met a man who told us he was Quilmes and the site is ‘muy significado’ for him and the area.
|Ruinas de Quilmes|
|Our new home !!!|
After the amazing landscape we had seen, the monotonous agricultural fields and flat, straight roads were not all together exciting. We figured that this would probably continue until we reached the big rivers in the north east province of Argentina, so decided to push 2 long days of riding. During the drive we did see some great birdlife but also a lot of dead animals: dogs, cats, ferrets, ant-eater and thick, pretty scaring looking dead snake. It was very hot, and at times felt again like someone was opening the oven door in front of us!
Arriving in Resistencia we found the municipal camp ground, and suddenly wished we had researched a little before we arrived. It was not a particularly pleasant spot, and the next morning we crossed over the bridge to Corrientes which was much nicer town along the river Parana. We booked in the Beinvenida Golondrina Hostel (definitely recommended) and wandered the town, ending the day watching a fantastic sunset together with the locals who sipped their mate (very popular herbal tea drink) and nibbled on Chipa (corn bread with cheese).
|Queue for petrol|
|Bridge over to Corrientes|
We arrived in San Miguel and it was a scorcher of a day, so we stopped in at the tourist information centre and got a few details, and after the lady saw how hot we were she told us to follow her on her motorbike…. She led us through the sand roads of the town to the dam which is the local swimming pool. Well it took us about 5 seconds to change and run into the refreshing water. We ended up camping at the dam for the night in amongst the pine trees.
Next morning it was overcast and we left midday for San Nicolas, we had heard many different stories of what this road was like, from yes there is a little bit of sand, to it is a very bad road. Well it was A LOT of sand and clay which made it a very interesting ride for sure !! 5 Km`s in Teeny had a little woops and got a little battle scar from the exhaust ! Half way through the heavens opened and a much welcomed down pour helped cool us down for the rest of the ride into San Nicolas.
|Local swimming pool|
|Battle wound !|
|Scene of the crime !|
That evening we did the short walk down to the marsh lands and saw many different birds and sat and enjoyed the sounds of nature with no traffic or loud tourists around. The walk back was stepped up to a slow jog when we noticed a huge storm coming in straight towards us. We only just made it back in time as it hit. We made some dinner and sat and watched a spectacular lightning storm that evening and fell asleep to the pitter patter of rain on our tent !
Up early the next morning to try avoid the midday heat we set out on the 7 km walk to the port, lucky us it became overcast again that day so it was a rather comfortable walk to the port. We sat at the port, which is just a small jetty with a few canoes and boats for people coming there from the other lodges around the reserve, and had some lunch on the river bank with some crocodiles watching us !!
Another thunderstorm hit us on our walk back which left us a little drenched and concerned about the road conditions for when we leave the next day. However due to the rains the sand had become a lot more denser and made the 30 km ride out from San Nicolas rather pleasant just having to avoid a few small dams that had formed in the roads !!
They recommended El Mirador camping grounds outside of town for the night. A little disappointing and very expensive after being spoilt at San Nicolas.
Trying to avoid some of the crowds we were up early and on our way to the falls, WOW can’t really put words to describe it all and hope some of the pictures do it justice, can only imagine what it would have been like for the person to stumble across this little piece of heaven. The next days we spent admiring the falls and doing some hikes searching for toucans, coatis and capuchin monkeys.
We received a message from Tineke and Sam, who we spent new years with in Vaparaiso, saying they were also in Iguazu, so met up with them for a buffet dinner in the evening and a few drinks.
|Sam and Tineke|