Cafayate Wine Trails
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The main route to Cafayate, Route 68 (a very good road, easy driving 186km), has perhaps the most dramatic scenery in the entire North West of Argentina. It’s like seeing all of the dramatic scenery of the western USA crammed into one relatively short drive. Cafayate is beautiful and does show you an authentic small Argentine town, but the culture is very much”VINOcultura” — vineyards and wine, wine everywhere. Located at the central zone of the Valles Calchaquies 1,683 metres (5,522 ft) above sea level it is an important tourist centre for exploring the Calchaquíes valleys, and because of the quality and originality of the wines produced in the region.
One of the largest golf courses in South America, at 240 acres, is just outside of the city centre at La Estancia de Cafayate which is a high end gated community housing and tourist destination.
The town was founded in 1840 at the site of a mission. One should stay overnight in this quaint village and continue to Cachi the following day which is an isolated Spanish Colonial town frozen in time. From here you can discover the Incan & Colonial roots of Argentina combined with breathtaking views of Los Cardones National Park.
The road back to Salta from Cachi is incredible passing through 3,000 meters plus above sea level, although parts of the mountain road can be a little scary, with a modern car it should not be a problem.
Cachi is surrounded by imposing snow-covered mountains soaring to as much as 5,000 meters. The temperature is usually mild and the skies are almost always clear, making the region ideal for mountain climbing. In Cachi you can see some of the world’s highest vineyards. El Molino de Cachi for example is over 2,400 metres above sea level.
The architecture of the small city is of Spanish Colonial style with attractive adobe homes painted white built over a base of rock, sporting antique window grills forged from iron. In the Central Plaza is the Church of Chachi, a recognised National Historical Monument, built in the sixteenth century with an exterior from the nineteenth century. Its beams, altars and confession booths are all carved from the porous wood of the cactus Echinopsis atacamensis. The front of the plaza is the main entrance to the Pío Pablo Díaz Archaeological Museum. This museum contains more than 5,000 pieces covering a time period of 10,000 years with a majority covering the time period between 800 BC and 1600 AD. Ancient pictographs figure prominently in the museum, and the staff are extremely knowledgeable about them.
10 kilometres to the south-southwest of Cachi lies the important ruins of Puerta de La Paya which is another must see.
If you want to learn more of this amazing region here is another post.
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