Quebrada de las Conchas y Más Vino – Day 209

Wed 29th Aug

This morning is an early start and get picked up about 7am. Not being prepared, after an hour we finally stop and I can get some breakfast.

From here we embark on our journey through the Quebrada de las Conchas (Shell’s Gorge)and all the wonders of this beautiful landscape. Otherwise known as Ruta 68, it is one of the most iconic drives in Argentina and is part of the Calchaquí Valley.

Wind, water and tectonic activity have transformed this landscape into unique geographical forms that, mixed with the red earth and other colours is yet another magnificent sight.

We stop at 2 of the most famous and incredible landmarks on this route. The Garganta del Diablo which was formed by a waterfall eroding away the rock but this was many many moons ago but still is quite an impressive sight.

Next is the amphitheater which feels like your in some massive cave. I’m not a fan of big tour buses but here a group of local OAPs enter and start singing the national anthem. A bit flat admittedly but the acoustics in the place are great.

La Yasera is a place full of fossils that you can take a hike throu but we didn’t have time. Looking at the landscape was beautiful enough though.

Another awesome not to miss place is the Tres Cruces Mirador with amazing views of the valley below

and the perfect location for a cheeky photo opportunity!

Some of the others are quite cool but we don’t stop….they are quick photo opportunities through the windows and include the toad, the titanic and the obelisk.

We drive past the winery that’s part of the tour to make a stop in the centre at some tacky tourist souvenir shop! A bit pointless to a few of us but others do love this kind of thing. At least it was a toilet stop. On to the winery – Vasika Secreta and nothing seems to be organised.

A tour happens to start in Spanish but seemingly nothing for the English speaking amongst us. Onto the tasting bit and it was just that – a sip of white and a sip of red with little info on the wines themselves. For the majority of the group this was it on the extent of their wine tasting in the region.

We then head back into town for a 2 hour stop in Cafayate. Lunch isn’t included but the restaurant is decided on by the tour company. Myself, Matt and Pete politely decline having already formed our own plans and with Vanessa from the States joining us, we go off in search of the 2 bodegas told to us by Cami. The first El Tránsito was shut due to siesta! The second Nanni was too but did have a beautiful garden and restaurant open for lunch. We decide to stick around here and do our own wine tasting!

The settings are perfect, the wine good and company fab. We could have stayed there all day.

As the other place opens at 3, we go back to El Tránsito for their wine tasting. It’s just over a £1 and we get to sample 4 wines. The rosé was my favourite here but again the place seemed to lack any life or structure. We were poured our tiny bit of wine, drank it then it was the next. I think the whole thing took 10 minutes! The good thing about here though was they knocked 50p off an already cheap bottle of wine and we come away with a good bottle of Tannat for just over £2! We run back to Nanni and buy another there!

We’re a bit tipsy and late heading back to the bus but it doesn’t stop us posing for photos on the way. I love this cool photo with the Coca Cola sign

and this sums up Matt’s craziness perfectly!

Sadly we have to say goodbye to Vanessa as she’s staying here for a few days then it’s a long journey back by bus again. Finally we get to the breakfast stop of this morning where we treat ourselves to a nice cold beer or 2. It always seems like a good idea at the time – until u need to pee that is! Matt does keep looking at the empty beer cans wondering if it’s possibility.

Back in Salta and we leg it off the bus into the hostel of Pete and Matt and the comfort of the WC amenities! Sat back in the garden just like yesterday, we crack open our purchases! Here we’re joined by 2 other cool Ozzie’s, another Matt and Minta. Cami joins us and we all head into town for another steak and red wine dinner!

Salta has quite a good nightlife scene and we go to a bar that sells craft beer. It’s quite pricey at 115p a beer but the place is buzzing. Whilst the others head home around 2ish Matt and I stay and head indoors to dance the night away.

It isn’t great music but it’s great to be out and with someone as equally bonkers as me! After an awesome day and night, bed finally beckons at around half 3!

The following morning I’m not feeling too fresh but do manage to head out and go for a wander. Pete and Matt are sadly leaving today so I join them for a goodbye beer. The sad thing about travelling is that u meet some great people but always have to say goodbye. Maybe see u in Oz one day guys….

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