Northern Argentina , south along the Andes

End of January 2016

The eastern slope of the Argentinian Andes is drier than we had expected. However, sophisticated watering systems, some dating back to the indigenous people, allow for irrigating and agriculture.

Slowly we worked our way south. We wanted to visit Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America at 6,961 metres (22,838 ft), and the highest point in the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.

In Cafayate we stocked up one more time, coffee had been hard to come by and we love our two cups every morning. Time and again we bought beans or ground coffee that did not make us happy. It tasted weird, we couldn’t figure out why, maybe they were just cheap beans (robusta) usually roasted with sugar. The cup of coffee in the coffee shops tasted great though. Still, mate is what many people drink and coffee is not that important.

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Finally, some decent coffee beans.

 

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Molinos, south of Cachi.

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The countryside on the way to Cafayate is amazing.

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Red pepper tree near Molinos

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Torrontés is a white Argentine wine grape variety, producing fresh, aromatic wines.

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After a long drive from Cafayate we headed up into the mountains and settled down at Los Nascimentos Hot Springs.

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The road ends at the hot springs. We were alone there for three days.

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Bye bye Nascimentos, it was great.

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Not a bad view from this camp site at La Cienaga.

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Here comes the sun na na na

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Heave rain fall in the mountains made for some crazy “baden” crossings.

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Uspallata Pass, 4000 m (13 000 ft)

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“Christ the Redeemer” The 7m-high bronze statue was commissioned from sculptor Mateo Alonso of Buenos Aires and erected here in 1904. There are two plaques at its base. One reads “He is our peace who hath made us one.” The other, placed there in 1937, declares: “Sooner shall these mountains crumble into dust than Argentines and Chileans break the peace sworn at the feet of Christ the Redeemer.”

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Wildflowers at the base of the mountains near Aconcagua

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Aconcagua

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Aconcagua again

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Uspallata Pass, border to Chile.

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Hot sulphur springs at the Inca Bridge. There was a hotel-spa here years ago, now all you see are the remnants.

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Leoncito National Park has several observatories.

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The only living thing we saw in the pampa were horses.

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Tocota pampa, not a good place to cross after rain storms in the mountains.

 

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CHRISTO DE TOCOTA: This Jesus statue stood there all by itself in the middle of nowhere, we camped at the base and felt protected.

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Books we liked: Nicaragua

“The Jaguar Smile”  by Salman Rushdie

“The country under my skin”  by Gioconda Belli

“Blood of brothers”  by Stephen Kinzer

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Books we liked: Ecuador

“Measuring the World” by Daniel Kehlmann (German: “Die Vermessung der Welt”)

“The Queen of Water” Laura Resau

“The Mapmakers Wife” by Robert Whitaker (German: “Die Frau des Kartographen”)

Galapagos:

“My Fathers Island” by Johanna Angermeyer

“Floreana” Margret Wittmer (German: “Postlagernd Floreana”)

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Books we liked: Colombia

“The sound of things falling”  (Juan Gabriel Vasquez) tags: Cocaine, Peace Corps, Love

La otra raya del tigre ,  Pedro Gómez Valderrama,  tags: Geo von Lengerke

(Spanish only)

and of course the books by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Books we liked: Peru

“Death in the Andes”  by Mario Vargas Llosa

“Turn right at Machu Picchu” by Mark Adams

“The Last Days of the Incas” by Kim Macquarrie

 

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Books we liked: Bolivia

“Marching powder” by Rusty Young, Thomas McFadden

True story about Thomas McFadden, a convicted English drug trafficker who ran tours inside Bolivia’s notorious San Pedro prison.

“Valley of the Spirits: A Journey Into the Lost Realm of the Aymara”

by Author: Alan L. Kolata

“Mask of the Andes” by John Cleary

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Northern Argentina

In San Pedro de Atacama (Chile)  we said good-bye to our friends and took off for Argentinian border. A new country again, how different they have all been, and how interesting. The border was the usual “gong show” and again, we had to pay $ 160 each to be able to enter the country. Fruits and veggies, dry beans, fresh eggs and such all are “verboten”. We knew that this time, boiled the eggs and had a big cook off before hitting the border. The drive was beautiful, more canyons and desert. We were dying for some green and drove to Salta. Argentinians love car camping and there are many camp grounds to choose from. Some nice and clean, some not so, some with wifi (usually bad) some with pools (usually empty). We wanted to visit the town of Salta and the Dodge dealer. The truck has been running really well, but an oil change was due. So we headed for the Salta municipal campground and got a good dose of Argentinian campground life.

It was summer vacation time (mid Dec to mid Feb) and the camp ground was full, the pool was huge but empty. A big part of their camping experience is grilling and consuming lots of meat, listening to music from the car stereos, drinking mate and socializing. One has to get used to their timing, the afternoons can be quiet when everybody is napping. They come back to life in the evening, start their fires around 10 pm, cook and eat around midnight and sometimes you can hear them and the music until the wee hours in the morning. We found out the hard way and were laughing when we woke up in the middle of the night and were both groping around the camper trying to find our ear plugs.

In Cachi, a little town in the hills we decided to stay for a while. The climate was mild, the air clean and the sleepy town nice. To get there we drove to through more desert, there had been one of those E Nino downpours a few days before and the desert was blooming, covered in yellow Hieronymiellas that grew between large cardon cactuses. We kept going south, headed for wine country (Mendoza area) and to the high mountains again.

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Lise and Sissi, Cathedral of Salta

 

 

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Salta: Basilica San Francisco

 

 

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Cachi

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Andean Flicker

 

 

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Günter testing the waters

 

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Hieronymiella Aurea

 

 

 

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