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Salta - Quebrada de la Conchas - Cafayate

A spectacular day

View High Altitude Landscapes Tour - Bolivia, Chile & Argentina 2023 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Last night was the first decent night's sleep I have had since falling ill. The hotel has a pretty good breakfast buffet, but I am somewhat surprised that the cakes, butter, jam etc are all behind the counter and we have to ask for them. I guess people have been taking them to make packed lunches (something I strongly disapprove of).

We are now back on the last few days of the original itinerary but in reverse order. We drive out of Salta on a smooth tarmacked road with beautiful yellow flowers on either side. The flowers, while they are really pretty and brighten the countryside, are apparently a much-hated weed. Known as Cuban Grass, it came over with imported coffee and now has become an invasive species that they are unable to get rid of.


While it is nice to be driving on a smooth surface with no dust, I do miss the wilderness, the remoteness, and the sense of adventure.

This gaucho seems to have swapped his horse for a motorbike.


Parador Postas de la Cabras

We stop to use the toilets and have a cup of coffee, while Gastón treats David to a slice of apple cake. This place is well known for its delicious homemade cakes.



Gaucho Gil

During the 19th century, Gauchos were not just 'mere cowboys', they were heavily involved in fighting in the war for independence from the Spanish.

Antonio Gil was one of those soldiers, and very much a local hero. He's a Robin Hood-like character who’s said to have stolen from the rich and given the spoils to the poor — and is also said to have performed healing miracles.

All along the road, we see several shrines dedicated to Gil, recognised by their red flags and various offerings.


Quebrada de la Conchas (The Gorge of Shells)

Today is a day of scenic drives with spectacular views. The area has revealed a number of fossilised shells, fish, and other palaeontological findings from the Cretaceous period, proving that this area was once under the sea.

The 75 km long canyon contains incredible geographical formations created by tectonic shifts, volcanic activity, erosion, and earthquakes over millions of years. It is said to be one of the most iconic drives in Argentina, and Gastón stops the car at every viewpoint for me to take pictures. Where there is nowhere for Gastöon to pull in, I engage in frequent drive-by-shootings (taking pictures through the window of the moving car). The scenery is beyond spectacular, so I make no apologies for the number of photos of the incredible rock formations, with a selection of the various named sites.





Amphitheatre - El Anfiteatro
It's an easy walk into the depths of the narrow gorge, in which I feel like I am part of an Indiana Jones film (if it wasn't for all the other people here). It is certainly impressive, and the acoustics are great.




We even have a chance to send up the drone.



Three Crosses – Tres Cruces
There is a hill with three crosses on it that you can climb, but we both decline and take photos of the view instead.


The Toad – El Sapo
This one is fairly obvious from this angle.


The Friar - El Fraile
This one requires a little bit of imagination in order to see a friar dressed in his robes.


Gypsom Pit - La Yesera
Multicolored layers of deposits from 100 to 66 million years ago.


The Obelisk - El Obelisco
While it is known as The Obelisk, we agree with Gastón that this 26m high rock formation, made up of sedimentary layers of sandstone and clay, looks more like a Toblerone. I now want chocolate!


The Windows - Las Ventanas
Holes in the side of the mountain shaped like a window give this rock formation its name.



The Castles - Los Castillos
Erosion has carved impressive columns and towers, giving the impression of a giant rock castle.


Brea, an evergreen tree that is unusual in that it its trunk and branches are green, which is said to help with photosynthesis.

La Carreta de Don Olegario

Once we reach Cafayate, we stop for lunch in a restaurant that seems to be overrun with unruly children running amok, standing on chairs, banging tables, and throwing things on the floor. The food isn't all that brilliant either, the chicken with ham and cheese is not a patch on the one Gastón had the other day.


Wine Resort, Cafayate

We check into the lovely lodge where we have a room with a patio overlooking the Amalaya vineyard.


The accommodation is set around a central courtyard and features colonial-style single-story buildings in a beautiful setting




The complimentary starter is some sort of confit beef on a bruschetta.


I order a filet steak - I have been looking forward to a good Argentinian steak, and this one does not disappoint. I know it will be enormous when I see the large solid steak knife.


This is not a steak, this is half a cow! Look at that slab of meat!


In many places, when I order my steak rare, it still comes as medium-well done, but the chef here has cooked it just how I like it.


I make a brave attempt, but the cow has me beat!


David, who is still not feeling at all well tonight after last night's sickness and diarrheoa, and initially doesn't want to come to dinner as he has no appetite, chooses teriyaki salmon as it seems to be the lightest dish on the menu, and he enjoys it more than he thought he would.


When we ordered the wine – from the local Amalaya vineyard, of course – we didn't realise that we had picked a rosé wine. I am pleasantly surprised at how well it actually goes with a hearty steak. It is light, fruity, and tasty.


As I make notes of the dishes and photograph my food, the waiter asks if I am writing a blog. “In Spanish?” he asks, hopefully. He seems surprised when I tell him that it will be in English only. Perhaps this is why I was given a Spanish menu this evening and David got one in English?

Neither of us has room for puddings, unfortunately, so we stroll back to the room for an early night. My steroids have finished now, so hopefully the bleeding will too (I have been suffering from postmenstrual bleeding ever since starting the steroids, something that is apparently a known side effect).

Thank you Undiscovered Destinations for yet another day on this amazing trip.


Posted by Grete Howard 10:18 Archived in Argentina Tagged canyon cake lodge argentina wine salta winery obelisk vinyards toad cafayate amphitheatre toblerone private_tour drone bruschetta undiscovered_destinations apple_cake bespoke_tour cabrada_de_la_conchas parador_postas_de-la-cabras goucho_gil gouchos antonio_gil scenic_drive guachipas viewpoints drone_shots three_crosses tres_cruces the_toad el-sapo la-yesera the_window the_castle la_carreta_de_don_olegario wine_resort amalaya amalaya_wines fillet_steak rare_steak

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seeing the pictures, I definitely have to consider to go to this part of the country.

by Ils1976

Wow, what a landscape! I love the drama of the rock formations 😮 And that hotel looks lovely too.

by ToonSarah

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