Río Arenales

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7 travelers at this place

  • Day44

    The First Stagecoach from Purmamarca

    June 10, 2018 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    It was not an encouraging sight. After the numerous attempts to restart the ancient generator, the hotel owner had obviously given up. The motley handful of hotel guests were left sitting in the foyer in darkness. The few sad remnants of the would be breakfast sat forlornly on the table. Outside the wind was kicking up the first of many dust devils. Hundreds of large cacti looked on malevolently from the surrounding hillsides. We certainly did not want to miss our first (and only chance) to leave this place.

    Our instructions said that we would be collected by some form of transport at 10 am. We did not exactly know what form the transport would take - minibus, horse, stagecoach, etc. We weren't really all that concerned. We were more than ready to leave.

    Right on time at 10 am, a mean looking hombre pushed in through the door, looked around the foyer and then said he was looking for "Dawson". I wondered for a minute if I had offended someone and this guy was looking for a shootout in the main square. Fortunately he broke into a half smile, introduced himself as Raoul, and told us to grab our bags. We didn't waste any time. Soon we were were squeezed into a Toyota Hilux 4WD, along with another couple. And you guessed it, they didn't speak a word of English. Not a single word. We were learning that no one speaks English in these badlands of northern Argentina.

    Overhead the sky was completely clear and the warm dusty wind foreshadowed a hot day. We bounced our way out of Purmamarca and soon the view from the rear window was completely obscured by a huge cloud of dust. It had been a surreal experience, but one they we will never forget.

    We were soon back on the highway. Not just any highway but the famous Pan American Highway. This incredible sequence of roads stretches for around 30,000 km, all the way from Ushuaia in southern Patagonia to Alaska. Apart from a small gap in central America you could drive, pedal or walk the entire length of two continents.

    Our initial route took us north along the famous highway, towards Bolivia. In this section the highway follows the path of the Rio Grande River Valley. Since we were going upstream, the elevation steadily increased. My ears popped several times. My drink bottle expanded. We were getting used to these manifestations of rapid changes in elevation, although I am not sure if my lungs will ever really adapt.

    The drive would have been relaxing if Raoul did not have the somewhat disconcerting habit of taking his hands from the wheel and turning around to talk to his rear seat passengers. I am not sure what the official speed limit was, but Raoul seemed to think that 140 kph was a reasonable speed in these conditions. The incredible scenery flashed past our windows. This region really is breathtaking, and not just because of the altitude.

    By midday we reached the comparatively civilised town of Humahuaca. This marked the northernmost part of our journey in Argentina. Somewhere in the morning we had crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, officially placing us in the tropics. No wonder it was so warm.

    Paul and I, along with our new (non English speaking) amigos found a likely looking restaurant for lunch. Soon we were enjoying a plate of delicious empanadas . These are like small pasties, filled with hot meat or cheese. They are a staple food item in this region, and they really are quite delicious.

    After wondering the plaza and examining some of the "maybe alpaca" handicrafts that were on sale, it was time to climb aboard the Toyota for the return trip down the valley. We had a long way to go before reaching our destination for the evening in Salta. Once again Raoul revved the engine and wound up the speed. The car wandered over the road. Numerous passing manoeuvres were executed right over the continuous double lines. Sometimes his hands were on the wheel and other times they weren't.

    One common sight along this highway were motorcycle riders without helmets. Sometimes whole families were on a single motorbike, with the smallest sitting astride the handlebars.

    "Are helmets compulsory in Argentina ?", I asked. "Of course", Raoul replied, "but this is Argentina". That explained everything.

    Another interesting sight we observed was several heavily laden cyclists making their way slowly north along the highway. I wondered if they had ridden from Ushuaia. I also wondered how far they would go north before common sense finally dawned on them.

    Very late in the afternoon we finally arrived back in Salta. According to my GPS we had travelled almost 400 km during the day. It was a wonderful feeling to be back in familiar territory. By now we had both developed a warm affection for this lovely city.

    After checking into our hotel we walked back to the plaza. The night was uncharacteristically warm. Young lovers sat in the park. The city dogs wandered about, proudly wearing their free jerseys. Music wafted through the streets. Unlike Purmamarca, we would both be sorry to leave this place.

    Early tomorrow morning we catch the first flight back to Buenos Aires. This adventure is drawing to a close.
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  • Day118

    Day 112: Retreat!

    May 4, 2016 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    We decided to go back down to Salta to recover. A shitty decision because the 3000 meters that we climbed to get here were for nothing. But on the upside we could go down 3000 meters. So we did. 164 km in one day. Now we rest for 3 days in Salta before we try to tackle the Andes the other way.Read more

  • Day729

    No Salt in Salta (Argentina)

    May 15, 2018 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    After short hop to the boarder and minimal fuss we were in Argentina, country number 13. Almost immediately you feel like you are back in the modern world, with good roads and clear signage its a big change from the past 18 months - you could even be driving in America.

    We found an entry on the iOverlander app claiming to have the best empanadas (mini cornish pasties) in the country, so obviously we had to stop and we weren't disappointed. A few hours later we were in the city of Salta, staying at a municipal country on the edge of town. It's a bit of a revelation to have multiple camp sites to choose from, let alone municipal ones.

    We spent a few days enjoying the town and its wonderful restaurants. The highlight was definitely Viejo (Old) Jack's for Sam's birthday where the waiter cut our steak with a spoon!! Honourable mention goes to the real ale house where happy hour ran from 7 until 9pm so a decent american style IPA only cost 2 bucks, and they served incredible loaded chips. We even visited Barny Gómez, a legendary bar we got drunk at 13 years ago although frustratingly I couldn't replace my long since disintegrated t-shirt.

    At this point I should probably explain the Argentinan schedule, as its quite unlike anything we've come across. The day starts at 9am as usual, but runs until 12 when everything bar the restaurants shut down. The siesta time lasts until 4 or 5 when the day resumes and continues until 7, 8 or 9. Prime eating time is around 10pm and some bars don't even open until midnight. It's all very strange and we become slightly nocturnal (this is helped by the fact we're on a Buenos Aires timezone so it doesn't get light until 8am) but it's actually a bit of nightmare for overlanding life when you lose the afternoon and it's chilly in the morning so you stay in bed until the sun warms things up. Still Argentina has a lot of things going for it so I think we're going to enjoy our time here.

    Unfortunately I came down with a bad bout of man flu, which laid me low for a few days. When we came to leave Jo even drove for the first time since America, and it was one of the nicest drives we've ever done!
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  • Day29


    October 30, 2014 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    So jetzt habe ich endlich mal wieder Zugriff zu einem Computer...auf die Dauer wird es echt anstrengend alles mit dem iPhone zu tippen! Wie vielleicht einige von euch gemerkt haben bin ich mittlerweile auch schon auf Sprachnachrichten umgestiegen, um das laestige Tippen zu umgehen ;)

    Obwohl ich noch immer in Buenos Aires bin und fleissig an meinem Spanisch arbeite, habe ich doch einiges gesehen in den letzten Wochen!

    Nach El Calafate ging mein naechster Wochenendtrip in den Nordwesten Argentiniens, nach Salta. Nach meinem vorherigen Flugdebakel und dem gecancellten Flug dachte ich mir ich gehe das ganze mal etwas ruhiger an, plane weniger vorweg und buche keine Trips im Voraus, sondern schaue einfach was sich ergibt. Grosser Fehler wie sich herausstellte, denn mal wieder machte mir Aerolineas Argentinas einen Strich durch die Rechnung.
    Statt um 7Uhr abends erreichte ich Salta erst gegen Mitternacht.

    Dort musste ich dann feststellen, dass Argentinien meine neugewonnene Sponrtanitaet leider nicht unterstuetzen moechte. Nach 8 Uhr abends ist es unmoeglich eine Tour fuer den Folgetag zu buchen, absolut alle Trips verlassen die Stadt um 7 Uhr morgens, noch bevor irgendeine Reiseagentur erreichbar ist.

    Dank der wirklich wirklich netten Hostelmitarbeiter habe ich es schliesslich aber doch geschafft einen Tourbus zu finden, der mich in die entlegeneren wunderschoenen Ecken der Provinz Salta bringt. Allerdings waren meine Mitreisenden nicht ganz so wie ich sie mir vorgestellt hatte.....ich fand mich unverhofft auf einer Kaffeefahrt mit 20 Argenitiniern wieder, die alle ihr Rentnerleben genossen und kein Wort Englisch verstanden, ihr koennt euch also meine Begeisterung vorstellen! Im Endeffekt war es dann aber doch ein schoener Trip!

    Auf staubigen, unbefestigten Wegen folgten wir zunaechst der Route des "Trend de los Nubes" (Train to the Clouds), der dritt-hoechsten Zugstrecke der Welt, bis zu ueber 4,000m Hoehe. Auf dem Weg gab es Viadukte, irre Bruecken, Inka Ruinen, kleine Doerfer und eine unglaubliche Landschaft zu sehen, die sich alle paar Kilometer komplett veraendert: Inmitten der Anden findet man von trockenen Wuestengegenden voller Kakteen, ueber riesige Weiden bis hinzu Berglandschaften in unterschiedlichsten Farben, wirklich atemberaubend!! Auch wenn meine Bilder das ganze nicht annaehernd einfangen konnten, die Anden strahlen tatsaechlich in allen erdenklichen Farben von gruen, ueber unterschiedlichste brauntoene, bis hin zu violett!

    Die Verstaendigung mit meiner Rentnercrew war auch definitiv eine Herausforderung! Nach nur 3 Wochen Spanischunterricht war ich zwar in der Lage essen zu bestellen oder Taxi zu fahren, aber fuer eine wirkliche Unterhaltung hat es damals nicht ansatzweise gereicht! Meine Oldies fanden mich trotzdem super, speziell ein Ehepaar aus Buenos Aires war wahnsinnig suess und wollte mich direkt mit ihrem Enkel verkuppeln :P
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Río Arenales, Rio Arenales

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