The Salta Region

The second-to-last province I’m riding through in NW-Argentina is Salta. The capital Salta, a city of about 500.000 people, has a lot to offer and hence attracts a lot of tourists. During the approach from the South, after the town of Cafayate, I already experienced some great landscape at the Quebrada de Las Conchas.

Riding in the Quebrada after leaving Cafayate headed for Salta on Ruta 68

The road follows a meandering river, with beautiful red sandstone formations along the way

After 11 days of nonstop riding from Mendoza I decided to spend the weekend resting in Salta. Arriving in the province brought the first cloudy and cool weather since I left Bariloche in late February some 2 months ago. A change in weather had dropped the temperatures in Salta by 15C and signalled the arrival of fall.

After a rest-day on Saturday spent with logistics I decided to undertake a day-trip on Sunday by bus to Cachi. The very scenic road climbs 2000m over a 3400m high pass, literally above the clouds.

The road from Salta (El Carril) to Cachi climbs over a 3400m pass, top section gravel.

Once over the top the landscape and the microclimate change dramatically. Arid plains and plenty of candelabra cacti present themselves in the National Park “Los Cardones”. The view opens up of the valley with the nice little town of Cachi and the huge Nevado de Cachi (6720m) towering behind.

In the Los Cardones NP with Nevado de Cachi in the background

Back after a very long day I got to enjoy Salta by night, with sights like the splendidly illuminated Cathedral on the central Plaza 9 de Julio.

Cathedral in Salta by night

I spent an extra rest and logistics day on Monday. In the late afternoon I walked 1072 stone steps up to the Cerro San Bernardo, from where you have a great view of the city. In the fading light I took this picture of Salta:

Salta from the viewing platform on Cerro San Bernardo some 250m above the city

The next day I continued North towards the province of Jujuy. I stopped for brunch in the idyllic little town of La Caldera. A stop at the beautiful Hosteria La Caldera is a must for every cyclist (or other tourist for that matter).

Hosteria La Caldera

The road (Ruta 9) then climbs over a 1600m high saddle and descends into a lush cloud forest towards the reservoirs created by the Dique de Cienaga. This was one of the finest roads I have cycled in Argentina – no, make that “I have ever cycled on”! Just fabulous, smooth paved road, slight downhill, no traffic, extremely winding road, and lush rainforest all around!

Rainforest along Ruta 9 between La Caldera and Jujuy

I’m greatly enjoying this much green prior to heading up to the Altiplano and Bolivia in the next couple of days…

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