To be honest, the only reason we stopped in Salta was to break up the long journey from the Bolivian border to our next stop in Mendoza. However, Salta and the surrounding area proved to be one of our favorite spots so far.
The downtown plaza area is just beautiful and extremely reminiscent of Europe – sidewalk cafes, museums, theaters, fountains – it has it all. Not only is the architecture of European influence, so is the gene pool. We were now in a country with other people with blond hair and fair skin where it was not immediately obvious who was a local and who was an international visitor. Definitely a difference from the Northern Andean countries that we had visited so far where our height and hair color gave us away.
Through Ted’s tourism connections, we met up with a lovely local Argentine woman who gave us a great overview of the country, from the current governmental and political situation, to the state of the nation’s tourism industry, as well as some great recommendations for what to do around the area. Not only did we learn that you say ‘Argentine’ (as opposed to Argentinian) when talking about people or things, we were told that we should rent a car to cruise a popular driving loop and over night in a nearby wine region.
So, that’s what we did. It was our first time driving on our trip and we had a blast getting to move at our own pace. We stopped when we wanted to – to take pictures, to have lunch, or just because. We had our first of many steaks, which Argentina is famous for, and we were blown away by the ever-changing scenery and historic villages out our window.
The nearby wine region, Cafayate, is the most famous in Argentina (after Menoza) and we drove ourselves to a couple of the recommended wineries in and just outside of town as well as to a creamery where they do goat cheese tastings. Mmm!
The drive back to the city was on a section called Quebrada de Cafayate. The red rocks, the rock formations and the vistas for the first 50km of the return are said to be some of Argentina’s most beautiful landscapes – which is saying quite a bit.
We are happy we gave this area the time it deserved and we got ourselves back to Salta in plenty of time for our overnight bus trip to Mendoza where the wine drinking and delicious eating would continue!