Chimu Adventures travelers – Ben and Josie Benoit – embark on a fantastic journey around South America and the world. Below is a continuation of their adventures as they enter the land of tango – Argentina:
The next day, we reluctantly pack up and leave the Awasi (complete with gourmet picnic for the journey). After our Bolivian experience, we’re dreading this 8 hour journey to start our tour of Argentina, but things are looking up as we settle into seats 1 and 2. It’s clean, it’s big, it has a big screen for films and a fully functioning toilet, the seats are enormous and we have a spectacular view. No matter that we’re sharing our trip with 30 Dutch tourists (some of whom have lost their tickets, adding on an hour at the border) and some Chilean nuns who insist on playing a Holocaust film in Spanish on the big screen. It makes for interesting company. The journey, once on the Argentinean side, is stunning: rolling hills tinged with greens, reds, yellows and blues and incredibly steep and windy descents. Interspersed with window gazing is some avid book reading and film translating. We arrive in 7 ½ hours, find our hostel, decamp and
head out to see what Salta has to offer. Immediately, the atmosphere is completely different to our tour of Bolivia. It’s much more cosmopolitan and colourful here. We feel safe and relaxed. The main square is beautiful, a small, green park framed by various beautiful old churches and buildings, with Mediterranean-esque bars and restaurants lining the pavements. We head for the nearest tourist trap with low expectations for food, but we devour an excellent first Argentinean steak, washed down by the house Malbec.
Days 2 and 3 in Argentina are the road-trip from Salta via the wine region of Cafayate and the beautiful countryside of Cachi on our Northern Argentina tour. The red-rock mountain scenery is fantastic, studded with cacti all the way. It’s a 4-hour drive to Cafayate, by which time everything is shut up for the 6 hour siesta, but we do find a small restaurant with barrel tables on the street which will serve us the staple ham and cheese toasted sandwich. We stumble upon our hotel in the absence of a map and it’s gorgeous – a traditional old stone house converted into modern rooms, with cobbled walkways and a small pool. The hotel is extremely helpful and books us on a vineyard tour for the 5.30pm tasting. It’s 4.30pm and we have to find some bikes in a shop in the square and head off to the vineyard. However, everything is still shut up so we set off on a power walk to make the last tasting of the day. We tour the vineyard’s warehouse and machinery and then indulge in sampling the famed local Torrentes wine (lighter than a sauv. blanc., really quite refreshing) and of course, the Malbec. Sun sets over the glorious vines and we’re feeling very content as we set off for another steak feast.
Back in Salta, we finally locate Johnny after weeks of trying to synch our schedules and head out for our first parilla (every conceivable piece of BBQ’d meat – chicken, beef, pork, lamb, all offal and entrails. Sweetbreads are the best – yum!). The next day, we check out some of the local sites – a green lake which we swim in (Paul loses his travelling wedding ring during one energetic diving stunt…could this be Mark Templeman no II?) and the mirador above Salta. In the evening, we saunter back into town and find the ‘restaurant’ road behind the square, a hive of beef-eating activity, and gorge ourselves on chorizo de beef again….
Day 5 in Argentina and we make our way to BA for a quick
tour of Buenos Aires before heading on to the Igauzu waterfalls. We land in BA on schedule and take a long walk in the rain and humidity, around Palermo, a district in BA reminiscent of north-east London. The botanic gardens were nice enough and there was still lots of lovely spring blossom – powder-blue – everywhere.
The next day, we take a late flight to Iguazu and transfer to our hostel eagerly anticipating our tour to Iguazu falls the next day. The next day we get to the falls at 7.30am, so eager to leave our sweat pit, and head straight for the Devil’s Throat, the most spectacular part of, and the closest access to, the waterfalls. We’re absolutely drenched infront of these monstrous, thundering, ferocious waters. After our soaking, we head back (via hundreds of spectacularly colourful butterflies) to complete the upper and lower walkways, to get equally as fantastic (and less wet) views of the falls. After another ham and cheese baguette (really need to find something else to eat for lunch), we embark on a 3-hour nature trek, which warns of wandering pumas. However, we’re making so much noise slip-sliding through the mud (and Stu is only in flip-flops), that the only things we don’t scare away are giant lizards. We head back after an exhausting but superb day for another parilla and disco at the hostel. Next up its on to Ushuaia at the very bottom of Argentina!