On Tuesday the 18th, we took a tour to Cachi, southwest of Salta. The drive is through a valley and raises to about 5,000 meters (Salta is at 1200 meters). The drive is one of the most unforgettable drives in Argentina. I know that Judy and I will not forget it, with a gravel, narrow, twisting road with many switch backs. The altitude raises quite rapidly and the vegetation changed as we got into the high desert.
As the journey continued, we went through Parque Nacional Los Cardones which has huge candelabra cacti. According to our tour guide they only grow less then one centimeter per year and since they grow to about 6 meters that would make some of them about 600 years old.
Judy standing by the side of one of the many cacti in the area
We arrived at the town of Cachi, located in a wide green valley. Cachi was founded in 1694 by the conquering Spanish. Prior to that time, it had been an Indian settlement long before the conquering Incas arrived in 1450, and the irrigation channels constructed by the Incas are still in use today. They grow a lot of red peppers and after the summer they are spread on the ground in huge patches to dry. But it was only spring time now, and the wet season has not started.
It is nice place to stay for a few days, as it is very quiet, not too touristy, and very inexpensive. There is no wi-fi, not sure that there is television available, but other than that, it has all modern conveniences.
Street scene in Cachi
Our trip back down the mountain was a little hair raising and the tour group cheered the driver when we got down to the flat lands again in one piece. Luck was with us in the form of a rainbow!
John O’Dell is a licensed civil engineer, general contractor and real estate broker. Your comments are welcomed