Salta… a jewel-box-sized-getaway?

After a day of tasting wine in the Uco Valley, it was pretty much straight to the bus station to catch the 9pm bus. I had booked a suite for the 13 hour journey to Tucuman. I thought it would be a place to stop and see stuff rather than doing 18 straight hours on the bus, but after booking the ticket it transpired there were only 2 hostels there with really old so so ratings and I thought I would continue on with a two hour layover before embarking on the next 5 hours. An icky pasta dinner was served up which was left to one side before lights went out  at 10pm. Time to lie back and relax and be up in time to see the sunrise across the valley.

When you arrive at a hostel you never know quite what to expect even though you have read reviews, looked at ratings etc. FerienHaus was not top but the reviews have it a better vibe than the higher ones. Unfortunately this was not the case. The place was dark, the communal area was small, there was no heating in the room, the top cover you couldn’t describe as a quilt, the foam was broken up and coming out of the cover. Note to self, if you don’t have to, never pay in advance for more than one night so you can always escape if need be.

Founded in 1582 by the Spanish commander Hernando de Lerma, the city has traditionally served primarily as a supply center for the Spanish mining sites located in present-day Bolivia. There has been a concerted effort to encourage new hotels, restaurants and shops  which they say is now paying off in a stream of visitors attracted to Salta’s updated colonial charm. Today, the old city center is recognized as a “jewel-box-size getaway”, perfect for exploring on foot and finally appreciated for its rich cultural offerings, grand neo-Classical buildings and thriving night life.

I joined the Salta Free Walking Tours to get to know the city and figure out what was where. Juanjo was taking its around showing us the various sights and telling us about the city. See some of them below.

One of oldest cities in northern Argentina. It is one of the key commercial centres for trade in South America. It is  close to the borders of three countries and 6 provinces and goods coming in and out usually have to go through the city.  I took the cable car up to the top of the city’s tallest peak to have a look across the landscape  which is surrounded by mountains. At the top you find an Artesian market, a playground, cafe, gym for those to complete their workout one they have run up the steps…

There is a 3 day race called Raid Colombia which is ran at altitude; 1500 people take part. FerienHaus hostel was full of runners and their families (which also made it a noisy place to be, kids running around). 28km the first day from Salta which is at 1,168m, 21km the second and 8km the third but it is run at an altitude of 3600m – I am getting breathless at 2,800m just walking; let alone running!

Day trip to Cafayate 

A day trip out on the road to Cafayate, brought us by many told rock formations and to the oldest winery in the region. Cafayate is know as Argentina’s second centre for quality wine production. We stopped into the Vasija Secreta winery which was created back in 1806, they produce mainly white wines with a little malbec and some cab sav. What they served us to taste, you certainly wouldn’t consider buying… I was spoilt from my tasting experiences in Mendoza. The town of Cafayate has a real small town feel about it and is very scenic, with a back drop of the mountains and the vineyards. Would have been nice to have spent a night there just to sit back, relax and get with the vibe

I was happy to leave Salta, fours nights there was more than enough, and longer than most do, unless you have specific hikes in mind; but Adios to a busy city where I met some good people in the second hostel who I was to bump into unexpectedly again further along the road.

 

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