Family Vacation: Salta Style
I’m a true mountain lover at heart (being a Colorado native, that isn’t too hard to believe). While everyone in Buenos Aires may be saying, “this place would be perfect if only it had a beach!”…I’m on the other side dreaming of vast mountain landscapes. Maybe it’s the fresh, high-altitude air blowing in and out of my lungs that I miss so much, or the overwhelming sensation of feeling small amongst unfathomably, grandiose mountains that have been around before dinosaurs! Who knows what it is, but my heart constantly yearns for the mountains.
When my family decided to take their first trip to visit me in Buenos Aires, Salta immediately jumped to the top of my list. While you may be wondering while a mountain climbing, white-water rafting, horseback-riding, adventure seeking, Colorado-based family wouldn’t automatically choose Patagonia…here’s why!
Salta is set in the northeastern part of Argentina. It’s landscape is arid, similar to the southernmost parts of Bolivia sharing in some of the same natural landscapes such as the Salt Flats. It’s colonial culture is most heavily influenced by the Andes – shared with neighboring country Peru. Much of current Saltense culture is still impacted by the traditions of the indigenous communities that once lived amongst and with the Andes – not to mention, Saltenos are extremely proud of their heritage. When travelling in and around Salta to well-known locations such as those in the north like Jujuy or Humahuaca, or driving the scenic route all the way down to Cafayate passing through Cachi and other historic towns, you’ll encounter a western-vibe with landscapes that appear untouched by man.
Our time was spent simultaneously comparing the red-layered mountains to those of neighboring states in the U.S such as Utah and New Mexico, to feeling like we were climbing on the moon. It was familiar, yet different. The closest I had felt to home since moving to Argentina one year prior, yet completely foreign to my curious eyes.
We rented an Airbnb in Salta which was a perfect home-base to seeing all in and around the region. With only 4 days to explore, we decided to take the scenic route through Quebrada de Cafayate passing through colonial towns such as Cachi, finally ending in picturesque mountain town, Cafayate. We hired a private driver at a reasonable price and were given the flexibility to jump in and out of the car as we pleased. We made it a 2-day trip and spent the night in Cafayate. Christian was our brave tour guide, and clearly a race car driver in another life. A Salteno native, he knew the mountains better than he knew his 5 children’s names. He smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, was constantly chewing coca leaves, cursed like a sailor, and had stories to tell for miles. We sped through the route (or more like flew), stopping at various scenic landmarks along the way. With only one flat tire, we made our way across the Quebrada de Cafayate nearly unscathed, our hearts full of some of the most beautiful scenery I had seen in awhile. We traveled and ate like true Saltenos with Christian munching on coca leaves, eating some of the best empanadas I’ve had in Argentina, and dining on a range of meats including goat meat! We sipped on wine harvested in Cafayate, and picked up enough trinkets and handmade goods that my mom will have Christmas presents for years. We gawked at mountains, made llama friends, and learned about a region so distinct yet important to Argentine culture.
Take the road less traveled and travel to Salta! Witness the awe-inspiring formations that fill up this beautiful region of Argentina, and indulge yourself is some one of the richest cultures of the country.