Even though it was really difficult to leave Capilla and say goodbye to our new found friends, we had to move on as the world is big and we still have plenty of places to go! As we were heading towards Salta, our last stop in Argentina, we made a few stops along the way to enjoy some more of the awe inspiring landscapes of the region.
From sunny Capilla Del Monte to the freezing Tafi del Valle
We definitely weren’t prepared for the sub-zero temperatures when we arrived in Tafi de Valle after spending a gloriously sunny week in Capilla del Monte. Duncan (our CS host in Capilla) had suggested we visit Tafi on our way up to Cafayate as one of the stops off the beaten track.
I can tell you one thing, trying to find an accommodation in the freezing cold wasn’t fun! What’s also not fun was the realization that the heater we had in the room was more of a bright orange spotlight than a heater! Not much sleep was had that night and we woke up to even more snow the next day!
Luckily though, most of the snow magically melted later in the afternoon. We were shocked and amazed by how quickly the temperature changed in one day. We decided to stay one more day to give this place a chance. We spent the next day wondering around the town and visiting the nearby town of El Mollar to have a closer look at the lake. Tafi is also famous for its handmade cheese. As cheese monsters, we bought a 1.5kg of different varieties. Greedy much?!
After hearing so much about it from fellow travellers, we wouldn’t miss a visit to this beautiful town surrounded by beautiful landscapes and some of Argentina’s best vineyards. We were told that if we can’t make it to Mendoza for a wine tasting adventure, Cafayate would be the best alternative.
Typical story here again. We came to this town for just a couple days and had to drag ourselves away after a week. So we spent most of our days indulging ourselves with trying different wines and enjoying jaw dropping landscapes. Life gets really tough sometimes!
Our hostel, Rusty-K
I normally don’t put reviews on this blog for the hostels we stayed in but Rusty-K (Rivadavia 281) is an exception and deserves its own section on this post as it was the comfiest and most pleasant place we had stayed in Argentina so far. The staff, despite not speaking a word of English, were very friendly and made our stay even more enjoyable.
When we got off the bus in Cafayate, we met an Argentinian couple from Buenos Aires who had just arrived on the same bus. Paulo & Mercedes were also looking for a place to stay so we decided to look together. After walking around for an hour in the sunshine, we came across Rusty-K. I even had a joke saying that because it has the same name as our beloved dog friend Rusty from Capilla it had to be good. We were quickly sold after seeing the sunny courtyard in the middle of a small vineyard and the luxurious, clean rooms.
We had a wonderful time at Rusty-K and enjoyed chatting and sharing our Cafayate experience with our new friends, Mercedes & Paulo.
Wine tour at Bodega Nanni
We chose this Bodega (wine factory) as we were told that it was the only one that produces completely 100% organic wines. After a quick tour around the Bodega we went on trying four different varieties. My favourite was the Tanat (red) and Ian loved the Torrontes (white).
We also went across the road to Bodega El Transito for more wine tasting but we liked the wines at Bodega Nanni the best. Thanks to a (slightly drunken) impulse we bought a few bottles of the wine and a tipsy, snoozy afternoon followed suit.
Quebrada de Las Conchas (Also known as Quebrada de Cafayate)
Dear readers, if you ever come to this part of the world, you HAVE TO visit the mountain range stretching 68km along the main highway (Route 68) between Cafayate and Salta. You can thank me later.
We toured the area with Puna Travel (San Martin 80) as they offered an option with more hiking and exploring. It’s slightly more expensive but definitely well worth it as you really get a closer look at the beautiful rock formations. Most other tours only stop by the roadside to view from afar which won’t do this place any justice. Here’s our tour in photos.
Ruinas de Quilmes (Quilmes Ruins)
We took a half day trip to this archaeological site in the Calchaquí Valley. It’s an hour bus ride from Cafayate. You get dropped off on the roadside where you still have to walk further 5km to the actual entrance to the site. Fortunately there are still indeed nice people in this world and a couple gave us a ride to the entrance in their van saving some time and energy for the rest of our journey.
Quilmes ruins are the remains of the largest pre-Hispanic settlement in Argentina. What we now refer to as ruins belonged to Calchaquí natives that settled on the hillside of Calchaquí Valley. They first resisted the Inca invasions and continued to resist to Spaniards until they were defeated in 1666. They were forced to relocate to a little reservation outside Buenos Aires and were all made to walk the entire distance (around 1500km). As a result, most of the tribe died in the process. The few who survived ultimately settled in where the city of Quilmes is now.
We hitch-hiked the journey back to Cafayate, first part was along the dirt road back to the main highway in a rusty old water truck whose cheerful driver was busy chewing coca leaves and trying to chat to him with our broken Spanish was lots of fun. For the next part we upgraded to a Merc! A lovely elderly couple from Buenos Aires who were on their way to Salta picked us up and we enjoyed a very comfy ride back to Cafayate. It was amazing to see how two people who don’t speak the same language managed to have a whole conversation talking about football!
Yummiest empanadas with plenty veggie options and wine ice cream!
La Casa de Las Empanadas (House of Empanadas) is dedicated to making the best empanadas in town and we made several visits choosing from its extensive menu.
For pudding, it was homemade wine ice cream. We tried both the white (Torrentes) and red wine (Malbec) flavours. I didn’t like it but Ian had no problems finishing it. I’ll stick to a glass of wine, thanks…