ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Day 41 to 50

DAY 50 (1 OF 4) – GEYSER DEL TATIO, ATACAMA DESERT, CHILE

At 4:00am, the tour bus arrived at our hotel.  Unlike the Southwest Circuit tour in Bolivia when we traveled in a group of 4, this time we were traveling in a minibus in a group of 24.  El Tatio Geysers is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Atacama Desert.  Not as high as the geyser field we visited in the Bolivian Altiplano, El Tatio is situated at about 4,320m above sea level and it is the third largest geyser field in the world.  We arrived at Geyser del Tatio before sunrise.  As we entered the field, we saw the sun slowly lit up the surrounding mountains.  Like little kids, many visitors ran and jumped and did all kinds of funny posts in the geyser steam.  Formed by condensation in the cold morning air (at night the temperature here can fall to -20 degrees Celsius), the geyser steam columns looked quite dramatic.  Towards the end of the visit, we had a simple breakfast at the geyser field.  In a small pool of thermal spring, our guide steamed eggs, chocolate milk and milk.  It felt so good with a hot drink in hand after spending an hour in the freezing cold temperature.  After breakfast, some decided to take a dip in the hot spring nearby.  Before we left the geyser field, we saw a group of vicunas.
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Read more on San Pedro de Atacama, 2013 South America
Day 49 – Arrival, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 50.1 – Geyser del Tatio, Atacama Dessert
Day 50.2 – Altiplano Wetland, near El Tatio
Day 50.3 – Machuca Village, Atacama
Day 50.4 – Stargazing, Atacama Dessert
Day 51.1 – Town, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 51.2 – Valle de la Muerte & Cordillera de la Sal, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 51.3 – Valle de la Luna, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 52.1 – Laguna Chaxa, Atacama
Day 52.2 – Lagunas Altiplanicas, Atacama
Day 52.3 – Tropic de Capricorn, Atacama
Day 53.1 – Pacific Ocean, Antofagasta
Day 53.2 – Nan King Restaurant, Antofagasta
Day 54.1 – On the Road, Atacama Desert
Day 54.2 – Paranal Observatory, Atacama Desert

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 49 (1 OF 1) – ARRIVAL, SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA, CHILE

A 9-hour bus ride from Salta took us back to the Hills of Seven Colours in Purmamarca, passed by Salina Grande (salt flat), crossed the Argentine/ Chilean border at Jama Pass (4,200m above sea level), and reached San Pedro de Atacama (SPA), our first destination in Chile, in mid-afternoon.  As we approached SPA, we were surprised to see trees in this desert town.  We soon realized that SPA is indeed belonged to a series of oases in Atacama inhabited by humans for over 10,000 years. In recent years, SPA has been developed into a popular base for miners and tourists to explore the Atacama Desert.  The town itself is well established with grocery shops, souvenir shops, restaurants, ATM machines, boutique hotels, hostels, and many tour agencies.  Looking east from SPA, we could see Volcano Licancabur, other volcanoes, and distant mountain peaks forming the eastern boundary of Atacama. Beyond Volcano Licancabur would be Laguna Verde in Bolivia, where we had a picnic lunch and enjoyed the dramatic scenery of the Bolivian Altiplano 10 days ago.
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Previous Destination – Northwest Argentina, reading from post Day 43.1

Read more on San Pedro de Atacama, 2013 South America
Day 49 – Arrival, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 50.1 – Geyser del Tatio, Atacama Dessert
Day 50.2 – Altiplano Wetland, near El Tatio
Day 50.3 – Machuca Village, Atacama
Day 50.4 – Stargazing, Atacama Dessert
Day 51.1 – Town, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 51.2 – Valle de la Muerte & Cordillera de la Sal, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 51.3 – Valle de la Luna, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 52.1 – Laguna Chaxa, Atacama
Day 52.2 – Lagunas Altiplanicas, Atacama
Day 52.3 – Tropic de Capricorn, Atacama
Day 53.1 – Pacific Ocean, Antofagasta
Day 53.2 – Nan King Restaurant, Antofagasta
Day 54.1 – On the Road, Atacama Desert
Day 54.2 – Paranal Observatory, Atacama Desert

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 48 (3 OF 3) – GOODBYE NORTHERN ARGENTINA, SALTA, ARGENTINA

We left Cafayate in the afternoon and returned to Salta.  Salta was particularly beautiful at night when locals and tourists took to the main plaza for dinner and music.  Tomorrow, we would be leaving Argentina, crossing the border into Chile and spent the next few days in one of the driest places on Earth, the Atacama Desert.

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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

Next Destination – San Pedro de Atacama
Continuing on our journey from post Day 49.1

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 48 (2 OF 3) – EL HORNITO, CAFAYATE, ARGENTINA

Finding a place to eat everyday during a long travel journey can be brain racking, especially in places with numerous tourist traps. During our stay in Cafayate, we found El Hornito, a local restaurant away from the tourist crowds, that we could consider as our “dining hall”. El Hornito is very popular among the locals, especially during weekends. Nothing fancy and pretentious, this little restaurant satisfied our appetite each day with grilled steaks and freshly baked empanadas.
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 48 (1 OF 3) – MUSEO DE VINO, CAFAYATE, ARGENTINA

In the morning, we concluded our visit of Cafayate by visiting the Museo de Vino (Wine Museum).  Partially located in an historic winery house, the Museo de Vino is a small museum telling the story of Cafayate’s wines with artefacts and a series of interactive interpretations with multi-media devices.  Described by the owner of Casa Arbol as “romantic”, the museum also tells the wine story with poems about the climate, landscape, mountains, and water of Cafayate.  With a high altitude environment and a desert-like climate, the wines of Cafayate are quite unique in the wine-making world.  Originally came from Spain, Torrontes is particular suitable to do well in Cafayate’s climate and soil composition.

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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 47 (2 OF 2) – QUEBRADA LAS CONCHAS, CAFAYATE, ARGENTINA

After Bodega Domingo Molina, we spent the afternoon visiting the Quebrada las Conchas. Cafayate, located in the Valles Calchaquíes, is renowned for its surrounding rock formations, especially in Quebrada las Conchas.  During the tour, we enjoyed some short hikes at Los Castillos, La Yesera, El Anfiteatro and Garganta del Diablo.  At La Yesera, we were led by our guide up to a lookout above the valley of colourful rocks. At El Anfiteatro, where the canyon offered some excellent acoustics, we were treated with soothing music by a local music performer. At Garganta del Diablo, we did a bit of climbing to reach the elevated canyon just before sunset.ImageImageImage
La Yesera (following 3 images)ImageImageImage
El Anfiteatro (following 2 images)ImageImage
Garganta del Diablo (following 2 images)
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 47 (1 OF 2) – BODEGA DOMINGO MOLINA, CAFAYATE, ARGENTINA

Recommended by the owner of Casa Arbol, we had our second wine tasting at Bodega Domingo Molina, a family run winery located on the hillside of Yamachuyo, a few kilometers from Cafayate.  The visit, which consisted of a thorough tour and a pleasant tasting session at an outdoor patio overlooking the vineyard and mountains beyond, was definitely worth the extra effort to venture out of Cafayate.  The friendly lady guided us through the facility, and explained the process of local winemaking from grapes picking to bottling.  At the outdoor patio, we were served with local cheese and dried fruit for the tasting.
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 46 (3 OF 3) – BODEGA EL PORVENIR, CAFAYATE, ARGENTINA

After the bus passed through the dramatic rock canyons of Quebrada las Conchas, vineyards began to dominate the landscape as we approached Cafayate.  It is hard not to visit a vineyard when one stays at this sleepy oasis town.  After the wine sorbet, we decided to go for some real wine.  We picked Bodega El Porvenir, one of the few wineries that are located within the town.  For those who are looking for a informative tour or a pleasant atmosphere for tasting, El Povenir may not be the right place to go.  However, we were told that El Porvenir makes quality wine.  Before dinner, we decided to go for a quick tour and tasting at El Porvenir.  Only a small section of El Porvenir’s facility is located in town.  As expected, the tour was brief but still served as a good introduction to the wines in Cafayate.  At the end of the tour, we tried five different wines, including Torrontes, the famous white wine from this region.
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 46 (2 OF 3) – HELADOS MIRANDA, CAFAYATE, ARGENTINA

After breakfast at Carpe Diem, we took a bus for Cafayate, a small town about 190km south of Salta. Located in the Valles Calchaquies, Cafayate is a famous wine region in Argentina. The 3-hour bus ride was pleasant. The scenery at the last hour when the bus drove through Valles Calchaquies was particularly good. Once arrived in Cafayate, one of the first things we did was to try out the wine sorbet at Helados Miranda. Recommended by a number of guidebooks, Helados Miranda offers two wine sorbet: the torrontes (white) and cabernet (red). The kind lady at the ice-cream shop also let us try a scoop of helado de tuna (cactus fruit).
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 46 (1 OF 3) – CARPE DIEM, SALTA, ARGENTINA

With mild weather, fabulous sunshine, and lovely colonial architecture, Salta is pleasing to both locals and foreign visitors.  Some decide to stay, including the Italian/ German couple who own Carpe Diem Bed and Breakfast.  Neat and airy with an European touch, Carpe Diem suited us well for our brief stay in the city. We had one of the best homemade breakfast there!
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 45 (2 OF 2) – MUSEUMS AND PLAZA, SALTA, ARGENTINA

Leaving Tilcara and the Quebrada de Humahuaca behind, we headed south to Salta, one of the most visited cities in Northern Argentina.  Renowned for its beautiful plaza and churches, Salta has in fact quite a small town feeling.  After a quick lunch, we made our way to the main plaza to visit the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (MAAM).  Small in scale, the MAAM is dedicated entirely to the three child mummies (aged from 6 to 15) found on the summit of Volcán Llullaillaco in 1999.  At over 6,700m, the burial site of the mummies is considered to be one of the highest archaeological sites in the world.  Although small, the collection, which includes the treasure trove of each mummy and the three mummies themselves, was quite impressive.  Due to conservation, only one of the three mummies would be on display at a time.  During our visit, we saw the “Lightening Girl”.  Aged about 6 years old when buried, the “Lightening Girl” was stuck by lightening sometime in the past centuries, leaving a burnt mark on her face and clothing.  From the English descriptions, we were able to obtain a brief understanding of the traditions of human sacrifices during the Inca period at about 500 years ago.
After MAAM, we decided to visit Pajcha Museo de Arte Etnico Americano, a small museum described by the Lonely Planet as “an eye-opening private museum” and “a must-see if you’re interested in indigenous art and culture”.   The small collection of masks, textiles, artifacts, and garments from a number of Latin American countries was interesting, especially the way how artifacts were being displayed along with contemporary art and crafts to provide a sense of cultural continuity, but the mandatory guide tour was a little pushy at times.  In the evening, we headed back to the plaza and ended up having fast food for dinner.
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 45 (1 OF 2) – ANTIGUA GUESTHOUSE, TILCARA, ARGENTINA

Over the past two days, Antigua Guesthouse was our base in Tilcara.  The staff was friendly and knowledgeable.  We also loved the view from the dining hall.  Seeing the dog of Grandma Rose staying at Antigua during our last night there was a pleasant surprise. 

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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 44 (2 OF 2) – CEMETERY, PURMAMARCA, ARGENTINA

Hillside cemeteries with a picturesque setting are not uncommon in the Quebrada de Humahuaca. When we came to Purmamarca by bus, we passed by one at the village of Maimara. In Purmamarca, we also walked past its beautiful cemetery at the end of our hour-long hike.
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 44 (1 OF 2) – HILLS OF SEVEN COLOURS, PURMAMARCA, ARGENTINA

The Quebrada de Humahuaca is renowned for its colourful hills.  Nowhere is more visible for this than the village of Purmamarca.  Defying the negative forecast on the Internet, today’s weather was sunny and clear.  From Tilcara, a 30-minute bus ride took us to Purmamarca.  As we walked into the town square, local vendors were busy setting up their souvenir stalls.  The market of Purmamarca is colourful but a little touristy.  We obtained a map from the tourist office and started our morning with a short walk up to a viewpoint that offered a good panorama of the  Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hills of Seven Colours) right behind the village.  Varied by the composition of minerals, the hills of Purmamarca really appeared to be distinct in colours under the morning sun, from dark green, orange, purple, to even pink.  Climbing back down from the lookout, we then embarked on an easy trail called Paseo de los Colorados.  The hour-long hike wrapped around the closest hill, passed through a crimson canyon, and returned to the village.  It allowed us to appreciate the colours of the hills as well as their interesting rock formations in a close distance.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADSC_1429DSC_1446DSC_1489DSC_1547OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 43 (2 OF 2) – PUCARA, TILCARA, ARGENTINA

From Garganta del Diablo, the hike back to Tilcara was a pleasant downhill walk.  At the edge of Tilcara, instead of returning to the town centre, we crossed a bridge that led us to Pucara, the pre-Inca ruins overlooking the town on a hilltop.  Near the entrance of the ruins, we stopped by a café for lunch.  Recommended by Felipe, Grandma Rose at the café made some of the best vegetarian food in Tilcara.  Her dog at the café was really playful. He sat beside us and watched us eating, always looking for food under the table.  After the delicious meal, we made our way up to the ruins of Pucara, a partially reconstructed fortress.  From Pucara, the panoramic view of the surrounding mountains was gorgeous.  The wind was strong and the clouds were low.  The field of giant cacti in the middle of Pucara was interesting to stroll around, despite most cacti did not look too healthy.  Some of the taller cacti looked a little scary as they swayed in the strong wind, as if they could fall any moment.
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 43 (1 OF 2) – GARGANTA DEL DIABLO, TILCARA, ARGENTINA

Located in the middle of Quebrada de Humahuaca, Tilcara is a popular base for foreign and local visitors to explore the UNESCO World Heritage listed valley.  We specifically chose Tilcara as our base to visit Quebrada de Humahuaca because of its better selection of accommodation and the town’s less touristy atmosphere.  Instructed by Felipe, one of the owners of Antigua Guesthouse, we decided to go for a half-day hike near Tilcara.  The entire hike took us about 5 hours including return, taking us to a canyon and a waterfall at a site called Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat).  As we walked uphill to the trailhead, we could see the colourful hills at both sides of the valley.  The clouds were low, covering much of the distant mountains in shade.
The walk uphill to the entrance of Garganta del Diablo was pleasant, but could get quite windy at times.  It was quite a popular hike as we shared the route with dozens or so of Argentine tourists along the way.  Giant cacti dotted on layers of rocky slopes.  There were some similarities to the landscape of Tupiza in Bolivia, only we could see more greenery here than in Tupiza.  At Garganta del Diablo, we paid the entrance fee before descending down to the canyon.  At the bottom of the canyon, we followed the stream for about 20 minutes until we arrived at the waterfall, where local visitors enjoyed a dip in the water or a sandwich lunch.  Some kind locals offered us two cups of Argentine wine while we all took a good rest before the return journey.
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Previous Destination: Southwest Circuit, Bolivia, reading from post Day 36.2

Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 42 (1 OF 1) – BORDER CROSSING, VILLAZON, BOLIVIA / LA QUIACA, ARGENTINA

At home, we read from other travel blogs that border crossing at Villazon/ La Quiaca could be a frustrating, chaotic and time consuming experience (waiting in line for up to 8 hours and so on).  Therefore, we decided to start early hoping to beat the crowd.  From Tupiza, we took a shared taxi at the bus terminal heading to Villazon, the border town on the Bolivian side.  The ride was pleasant on a paved road, and it gave us one last opportunity to admire the landscape outside Tupiza.  The ride to Villazon took only a little over an hour.  After we arrived in town, we then switched to a local taxi to the international bridge separating Bolivia to the north and Argentina to the south.  When we got to the bridge just before 9am, we saw a huge crowd gathered in front of the bridge, and the bridge seemed to be closed.  We used our limited Spanish trying to find our way to the Bolivian immigration and the crowd kept on saying “No Paso”.  They waved us to turn around to the next street.  On the next street, a local man asked us to follow him.  He led us down the street to the riverbank under the international bridge, where many locals were crossing the shallow river from both directions.  Since the bridge was blocked, we thought we could first cross the river to reach the immigration offices, which apparently were located at the Argentine side of the bridge.

After some sweat and hassle we finally crossed the river with our backpacks and made it to the immigration office at the Argentine side.  There we were told that we had to get an exit stamp from the Bolivian immigration at the window adjacent to the Argentine immigration office.  We were relieved before finding out that the Bolivian window was shut with no one inside.  We were told to carry our backpacks and return to Bolivia.  Didn’t have a clue what to do next, we walked across the empty international bridge with our backpacks (wouldn’t want to cross the river again) to the Bolivia side, where there was a Bolivian police office.  The protesting crowd was still yelling with banners in hands and occasionally igniting fireworks to gather attention.  The bridge was closed and no Bolivian immigration officers could be seen anywhere.  We asked the Bolivian police when the border would be reopened.  We were told by 6pm perhaps, and it was only 9am!  We were already tired and a little anxious about getting the Bolivian exit stamp.  Looking at the crowd blocking the Bolivian side of the bridge, and the Argentine immigration office at the other end, we were the only two people stuck in the transitional zone between the two countries.  We could see other tourists at either the Argentine or Bolivian side of the bridge, anxiously waiting for the reopening of the border.

We kept on bugging the police and anyone we came across on the bridge.  Just after noontime, a man without uniform emerged from nowhere who seemed to know everyone at the border.  We stood up and asked him when the border would be reopened.  He asked us to wait for a moment.  About half an hour later, he told us to follow him into an immigration office at the Bolivian police control, where he checked our passports and asked us a few questions.  He then led us to cross the bridge again to the Argentine side.  He took our passports and went over to the Argentine officers.  They shock hands, chatted a bit, and looked at our passports.  At last, he returned to us, summoned us to the Bolivian immigration window, and told the two officers inside to stamp our passports.  After 3 hours of frustration, we finally got our Bolivian exit stamp!  We thought the man who helped us must be a high rank Bolivian immigration officer.

We quickly went over to the Argentine immigrations with our stamped passports.  At first, the officers in the office refused to accept our passports, saying the border was still technically closed.  We were dumbfounded for about 30 seconds before a female officer came out and agreed to help us with the Argentine entry stamp.  She took our passports to a tall and thin Argentine officer whom the Bolivian officer chatted and shock hands with 10 minutes earlier.  From a distance, we could see the tall and thin Argentine officer nodded to the female officer.  What a sign of relief!  Two minutes after the nod, we got our Argentine entry stamps, got our backpacks through the “x-ray machine/ truck”, and were on our way by taxi to the bus terminal of La Quiaca (the border town on the Argentine side).  Looking at the queue of people at either end of the bridge, it seemed that we were the first tourists of the day to cross the international bridge at Villazon/ La Quiaca!

At La Quiaca’s bus terminal, we hopped onto the first bus leaving for Jujuy.  After a 3.5 hour bus ride and a backpack search at an intermediate checkpoint along the highway, we finally arrived at Tilcara, our destination of the day where we would stay for the coming three nights.  By the time we stepped into the nicely decorated bedroom at Antigua Guesthouse, we immediately dropped to the bed and felt extremely grateful and relieved about the remarkable experience at the border.
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streetscape of Villazon, Bolivia

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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

Next Destination – Northwest Argentina
Continuing on our journey from post Day 43.1

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 41 (5 OF 5) – TRAIN CEMETERY, UYUNI, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 4, BOLIVIA

Before we had our farewell lunch, we stopped at the last attraction of the tour, the Train Cemetery in Uyuni.  Before the mining industry collapsed in 1940s, Uyuni was a major railway hub from the mines of the interior to the Pacific coast in Chile.  After the collapse, the cargo trains and locomotives (mainly from Britain in late 19th century) were abandoned.  Today it is one of the major tourist attractions in Uyuni.

After the Train Cemetery, our group had our farewell lunch at a hotel in Uyuni.  We were the only two in the group returning to Tupiza.  The rest of the group would depart from Uyuni for La Paz.  The end of the Southwest Circuit also marks the end of our journey in Bolivia.  Tomorrow, we would head south to Argentina.

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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 41 (4 OF 5) – SALAR DE UYUNI, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 4, BOLIVIA

The Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Flat) is one of the most well known geographic feature in Bolivia. About 40,000 years ago, the salt flat was part of the prehistoric Lake Minchin.  When Lake Minchin dried up, it left behind two lakes and two major salt flats, with the biggest being Salar de Uyuni.  Today, Salar de Uyuni is the biggest salt flat in the world, and is visible even  from the space.  The Salar de Uyuni stays dry for most of the year, except for the wet season when it would be flooded by water.  Every year during wet season, incoming water would bring salt from the surrounding area.  When the water evaporates, a new layer of salt would be formed.  The annual layering of salt deposit is clearly visible from the salt blocks that the locals sometimes use as building materials.  Apart from tourism, salt and rare earth extraction are some of the major industries here.  In the near future, the government is planning to expand the mining of lithium (vital component for electronic batteries) at the salt flat.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 41 (3 OF 5) – ISLA INCAHUASI AT UYUNI SALT FLAT, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 4, BOLIVIA

It was such strange beauty when we first saw Isla Incahuasi (Inca House Island).  Located in the middle of Uyuni Salt Flat, the unique island is full of giant cacti.  Many rocks on this former volcano are actually fossilized corals, reminding us that 40,000 years ago the salt flat was once Lake Minchin, a prehistoric lake that has since dried up.  On Isla Incahuasi, the tallest cactus is about 9m tall.  At the top, Isla Incahuasi offers a good views of the salt flat and distant mountains.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 41 (2 OF 5) – SUNRISE AT UYUNI SALT FLAT, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 4, BOLIVIA

Finally we were on our way out to the Uyuni Salt Falt. The sky was already pretty bright as our 4×4 rushed out to the open whiteness looking for the perfect spot to see the sunrise. The moon was getting lower and lower on our left, and gradually disappeared under the horizon. After half an hour, the driver stopped our 4×4. We opened the door and made our first steps onto the famous Uyuni Salt Flat just after dawn. The view to the distant mountains under the early morning sunlight was sublime.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 41 (1 OF 5) – SALT HOTEL, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 4, BOLIVIA

Today was the last day of our Southwest Circuit tour. Finally it’s time for the Uyuni Salt Flat! We got up at around 4:30am to prepare for our early departure to see the sunrise at the salt flat.
Compared to the last two accommodations, this last guesthouse was quite unique. It’s a large complex built with salt blocks located near the salt flat. The facilities were still quite basic, but at least there were hot showers for sell.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought