ARGENTINA, PART III – APRIL 17 TO MAY 2, 2017
BARILOCHE >> MENDOZA >> SALTA >> JUJUY >> TILCARA >> PURMAMARCA
Starting the long journey north from Patagonia, I took a bus from El Chalten to Bariloche, which ended up being about a 25 hour ride! Bariloche is known for it’s beautiful nature, skiing, chocolate and Swiss/German style architecture. I only did a couple basic hikes while I was here, as I was a little worn out from Patagonia. You can see a few of the beautiful lakes that surround this area in this picture.
This area was truly fantastic. I spent the next few days mostly relaxing. My first day there had the best weather, so in part due to the poor weather and in part due to more complicated bus schedules in the off season, I didn’t explore the surrounding cities quite as much as I had hoped to. But that just gives me a reason to come back!
The architecture (enhanced by the nature) did make this one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever been to in Latin America. You can see the strong European influence in every aspect of this city. Great and safe place to relax, get in some good hikes (or skiing in the right season), enjoy some world class chocolate and decompress. It worked well for me before I headed up to Mendoza to experience one of South America’s wine capitals more properly.
After another long bus ride (17 hours), I arrived back in Mendoza with a few more days to enjoy the city the way it was meant to be enjoyed. I had met a fun German guy on the bus, so we decided to tour the city together. We started our first day by going on a wine tour to the Maipu region, where we stopped by an olive oil factory, 2 vineyards and finished the day by having a nice Asado lunch.
The following day we both wanted to check out the Lujan wine region we didn’t get to see the day before, but rather than pay for a tour, we just took a public bus to a random vineyard that had some good reviews on Google. Sometimes this is the best way to do things! We ended up going to the first winery, partially because it was also a restaurant, and didn’t end up leaving. It was a little pricey, but the food was some of the best food I’ve had on my entire trip! The wine was quite amazing, too. Plus, after the 3 course meal (with wine) we had a private tour of the winery with a private wine tasting. My favorite tour and tasting I did my entire time in Mendoza!
Ok, another 17 hour bus ride north later, I arrive in Salta. Finally, the obnoxiously long bus rides are over. About time! I had finally arrived in northern Argentina. The places up here I had never even heard of until I came to Argentina. But meeting people around the country, it became apparent this was a part of the country I could not miss! The people up here were a lot more indigenous (and with that came the amazing and bright colors everyone wore), and Salta is supposedly the birthplace of empanadas. I won’t lie, the empanadas here were incredible, and I don’t think you could find a bad one!
I’ll touch on this more, but the culture in the northern part of Argentina was my favorite in the country. It was bolder and more pronounced, the people seemed nicer and more open, and it was certainly much different (and not European) than the rest of the country.
Upon arriving in Salta, there’s a famous valley to the south with lots of incredible rock formations. Naturally, this valley is on the way to another one of Argentina’s wine regions, so a stop there was also mandatory.
The wine region in Cafayate was nothing like what was in Mendoza, but it was still good and the ride there was spectacular.
Salta was also much greener than I expected. I expected more of a desert, but the city itself was surround by a relatively dense forest!
state of Jujuy (City of jujuy, tilcara and purmamarca)
Finally, shorter bus rides have arrived. I went from Salta to Jujuy (city). The landscape of Jujuy was quite similar to that of Salta (green forest surrounded by desert). I spent a couple relaxing days here, wandering around the city, getting transportation lined up to San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) and going to a hot springs. The hot springs felt great on my body after all the hiking and bus transportation, but it wasn’t the most interesting one I’ve ever been to. Not something I’d highly recommend, but it was cheap, so not a big deal. Below was a nice scene from a park with lots of families relaxing and kids playing.
I wanted to see some of the famous nature around the city, though. That’s what took me to Tilcara and Purmamarca for a day each. There is a beautiful salt flats here, but I decided to skip that as I’d be doing the Uyuni salt flats (largest in the world) in about a week.
So, after Jujuy, I took a short bus up to Tilcara. This was a beautiful little town where the native influence was quite strong. This city is best known for some pre-Spanish ruins right outside the city (still walking distance). They were nice, but not anything crazy special. The best part about it was that everything wasn’t roped off like it would be in the states. I could actually walk between all the ruins and into the houses and along the paths.
Later that evening, I found a nice little bar with some live music. To my (extremely happy) surprise, there was an older Argentinian man in there, dressed in authentic garb, playing lots of different ethnic instruments (see him on the left). He said the painting on the wall to the right was of his grandfather! Musically this has been one of the highlights of the trip! I love hearing all the different instruments, plus the musician kept everyone engaged, talking to people, etc. I do have some videos of this uploaded to my Facebook, too.
From here, I went to Purmamarca where I would be catching my bus to San Pedro de Atacama at 3:40 am (ugh) that night. This town had lots of shops with lots of colorful native things to buy. But, the best reason to visit is the colorful mountains that this town sits at the foot of. Quite spectacular!
Next stop, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. Coming soon!