30.01.2013 - 31.01.2013
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30th January – We left Iguazu Falls behind us for now to move on to our next destination. Our flight was due to leave at 11am but they changed the time at the last minute to 12.40. So we hung around the hotel relaxing for a bit longer than planned. Our flight to Salta took 2 hours. We had Martin awaiting our arrival. He is going to be our personal guide for the next 4 days around this part of Argentina. He turned up in a nice new 4 wheel drive to take us in. So we headed off for our first destination which was Cafayate. This was a 3 hour drive along Route 68 as we had stops along the way.
As we entered the last half of the journey, the terrain began to get hilly and really colourful. We could see the sedimentary layers in the rock that underlay the bushes and trees, but there had been sufficient upthrust that the layers ran at a 45 degree angle.
In several places the road had been washed away by the force of the river. They have had to make other bits of road to go around the washed out parts.
Now we entered the Quebrada de Cafayate proper, and colours became varied, with reds, browns, and off-whites visible; the rock formations became more sensational as well.
Along the way we stopped to see:
The devils throat
A view across the valley from the Three Crosses Lookout
And The Castles
We then arrived at our hotel that will be our home for the next 2 nights called the Killa Hotel. It is not far from the main square.
31st January – Today we spent the day looking around Cafayate. Cafayate is located at the central zone of the Valles Calchaquies in the province of Salta. It sits 1683 metres above sea level. The town is an important tourist centre for exploring the Calchaquíes valleys, and because of the quality and originality of the wines produced in the area. The town was founded in 1840 at the site of a mission. There is not much to see in town, but it does have a lovely square and the Iglesia Cathedral which is a slender Cathedral located opposite the main square. It was built between 1890 and 1895.
We then headed out to visit some bodegas (wineries) and a goat cheese factory. Our first stop was at the Cabras de Cafayate goat cheese factory.
When this farm was originally set up for goat farming the intention was to use the manure to fertilize the vineyards, after a while they decided to use the milk to make cheese. We had a trip through the goat farm and the cheese factory and at the end we got to taste about 10 different varieties of cheese. We bought a nice garlic and herb goat cheese and some bread to have for dinner tonight.
We then headed to our first winery Bodega Vasija Secreta where there was a little museum to go through. We could not believe the size of some of the wine barrels. We did some wine tasting and bought a lovely bottle of GataFlora Torrontes.
Our next stop was Bodega Domingo Hermanos. This family winery cultivates Torrontes and Malbec, the flagship grapes of Argentina, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay. Some of these varieties we had never heard of before. They sell the wine in 5 litre bottles. The vineyards have more than 300 sunny days a year and extremely dry weather with rainfall average of 150 millimetres a year.
We then moved on to Bodega Finca las Nubes - José Luis Mounier is one of the most respected winemakers in all of Argentina. José Luis farms his wines organically and doesn’t believe in using herbicides. Finca las Nubes means "farm of the clouds", it is located on the slopes and it is literally high enough to be in the clouds on some days. We again did some wine tasting. We decided to have lunch at the bodega as it had a lovely view of Cafayate.
Shane had some of their Rosade (Rose) with lunch. We had tamales for lunch along with a lovely platter of meats and cheeses. Tamales are a traditional dish usually made of a starchy corn based dough which is steamed in a corn leaf wrapper. The wrapping is discarded before eating. Our tamales had beef inside. They were beautiful.
After lunch we had one last stop at the Bodega Nanni, this was again a family winery, representing 4 generations dedicated to the production of organic wines.
It was a really relaxing day today. Although there was not a lot to see visiting the local wineries to see what they had to offer was really interesting.
We are now sitting outside our room eating our cheese and bread drinking our bottle of wine where we can see the top of the church with the mountains in the background. Another good day.