On leaving Mendoza, there were two more stops on our itinery. Cafayate and somewhere of insiginificance. Spur of the moment on behalf of Jono our driver a question was raised. Would we prefer to go directly to Salta or do the other two stops? Salta it was and a 15 hour drive day commenced. There were a good number of excursions to do and with some of them coming very highly recommended, this turned out to be one of the more expensive stops so far. Horseback riding with asado (BBQ) one day with massive party in town that evening. White water rafting followed by zip lining the following day. City tours. Oh, and some of the “best steak in South America”. We were all kept rather busy but had a great time.
Day one was spent walking around the city taking in the various sights and attractions on offer. These included some of the churches and the cathedral with their beautiful architecture to the main market streets filled with artesans and street vendors. Finally found myself a maté which I have been looking for since Bariloche :-) A couple of us also took a gondola (cable car) ride up Cerro San Bernado for great views of the city. With all this trekking about, its obvious that hunger would creep in. To cure this affliction, we feasted on empanadas from the “worlds best empanada shop” situated on the central plaza. I really like how Argentina and Chile spend a lot of effort ensuring their plazas and gardens are well maintained and beautiful. Statues, parks, water features and gardens make them all very beautiful and popular hangout spots for the locals.
Since day one, Mike has been raving about Enrico’s Ranch and how its one of his favourite activities in South America. It was then quite obvious that we all had to go and see what this was all about (which we did). 5 or so of us chose not to do the horse riding for an extra 100 pesos but I did it with the rest. A 3 hour circuit with little gallop section inbetween ensued. Obviously for safety reasons, most horseriding companies prevent you from putting the horse into a gallop. These guys were cool though. Afterwards we joined Enrico back at his ranch for wine and lunch (and lots of it!). The wine was bottomless and the asado never ending. Tonnes of vegetables ranging from pumpkin mash, lentals and fried vegetables to a variety of salads. Enrico is a fantastic character and everyone naturally feels welcome at his ranch and one of his best friends within 10 minutes. Us manly men took Enrico on a challenge he set us. He pulled out 3 varieties of chilli and dared us to eat them. I eat raw chillies all the time in Kenya so figured this wouldnt be too bad since I enjoy my spice. For lack of a better word, %@#&!! Death by chilli! A fantastic days excursion.
White Water Rafting
There has been many opportunities to go white water rafting so far during this tour but I have not taken advantage of any of them. I decided that before I leave Argentina I should do it at least once and the rafting offered by the Salta Rafting company looked very good. It was a long drive out to the rafting basecamp but on arrival we were greated by a friendly woman who, after the pleasantries, handed us none-disclaimer forms :-P After the mandatory paperwork, off to go get kitted up in full wet suite gear with helmets. All the gear including the boats were in very good condition (one should expect that regardless considering the cost of the excursion) and not before to long, we were headed to the river. The rest is wet, wild and adrenaline pumping history. No one fell out of the raft but the grade 3 rapids did challenge our balance and grip strength. A great way to spend the morning and quick way to sober up for some of us!
I’ve been on a foofie slide before but zip lining is a whole different story. Situated at the same place as the rafting, a quick hike up a hill on one side led us to the start of the zip line cables. Approximately 200m off the ground and 600m long cable, what a fantastic rush. Nothing like the Durban stadium swing I did last year which put your heart into your chest though. This was a much more relaxed rush. The view was amazing and zipping along at around 50km/h was awesome. There were 4 zip lines in total and the final one took us back into the center of basecamp. A cold coke was definitely in order after that.
Good Bye Argentina
Salta was a great way to end our visit to Argentina. The excursions were amazing, the town interesting and the nightlife happening. It’s now on to Bolivia for us and I am expecting a massive change in everything. The environment, people and culture. We will be stopping overnight at a little town called Tupizo on our way to Uyuni where we will get to visit the world famous salt flats! Really looking forward to that. But until then, Chao Argentina! See you again soon!