Stunning.  Jaw-dropping beautiful. Amazing.  Awe-inspiring. There’s something quite spectacular about the varied landscapes of Northern Argentina that words can’t quite capture.

Arid and peaceful at times, brooding and pensive when a storm rolls across the Andes.  These is a world of weathered-landscapes, gentle valleys and windy mountaintops.

Photo 1: Adobe Dwellings

Simple adobe dwellings dot the countryside. In many ways this part of Argentina is more similar to Bolivia than the rest of the country.

Photo 2:  Ghost Town

Photo 2:  A simple Gomeria (tire repair shop) was one of the only buildings still standing in this small village north of Cafayate.
Photo 2: A simple Gomeria (tire repair shop) was one of the only buildings still standing in this small village north of Cafayate.

Photo 3: Slow Descent

A slow and easy ride through the Calchaqui Valley.

Photo 4:  Heavenly Peaks

The distant Andes look as if they're floating high above in the heavens.

Photo 5:  Empty Road

The intense mid-day sun beats down unrelentingly. Sparse landscape means there's seldom a comfortable spot to stop for a rest.

Photo 6:  A reprive from the sun

In the shade of a roadside chapel we stop for a break and snack on local cheese and some surpisingly tasty bread.

Photo 7:  Difunta Correa

Folklore is alive and well in Northern Argentina. These offerings of bottled water are for Difunta Correa who apparently died of thirst in the desert.

 

Photo 8: Another kind of cowboy

Cowboys on bikes are just as common as those on horses. Locals are reserved in this part of Argentina but will go out of their way to help in any way possible.

 

Photo 9:  Into emptiness

Between Cafayate and Cachi, Ruta 40 passes through surreal landscapes in a peaceful and arid region of Argentina.

Photo 10: Sculpted by nature

The ride may look easy here, but there are many steep, sandy sections where one must ocassionaly hop off and push.
The ride may look easy here, but there are many steep, sandy sections where one must ocassionaly hop off and push.

 

Photo 11:  Just enjoy

Photo 12:  Rio Molinos

After a night spent camping at the charming town of Molinos, we get an early start for the ride north to Cachi.

Photo 13:  Dawn breaks over the Andes

We set off just after daybreak for a ride up the Cuesta del Obispo pass on our way to Salta via the old highway. Thankfully, the ride to the top is a relatively gentle incline and entirely paved.

 

Photo 14:  Eeking out a living

Although sparsely populated, there are scattered homes along the way. I often wonder how the locals eek out a living in such an unforgiving environment.

Photo 15:  Surviving by the tourist trade

This family makes and sells handicrafts to the passing tourists who can be seen whizzing by in crowded mini-vans. The views are so much better on a bicycle.

 

Photo 16:  disappointment at the top

Our hard slog up the pass is hardly compensated by a stunning view. Heavy fog and drizzle set in at around 3,000 meters making cycling quite precarious

Photo 17:  Cheated!

Time to bundle up for the ride down the other side. Several cyclists cite this stretch of road from the pass and on to Salta as one of the most beautiful in Argentina. Stormy weather cheated us out of the vistas.

Photo 18:  Cloud cover

After waiting out the storm over night, the clouds finally clear a bit.
After waiting out the storm over night, the clouds finally clear a bit.

Photo 19: Stream crossing

The ride down the mountain is only partly paved. The heavy rains have led to flooding and we get our feet wet more than once.

Photo 20: Slippin’ away

The road hangs on to the mountainside, parts of it crumbling into the valley below. It takes some keen manoeuvering when two trucks meet.

Photo 21: Marks of colonialism

Colonial churches like this one can be found in even the smallest of villages.
Photo Essay: Northern Argentina
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One thought on “Photo Essay: Northern Argentina

  • Nicolai Bangsgaard
    March 21, 2011 at 1:17 PM
    Permalink

    Absolutely stunning! Wow, is all I can say. These photos bring back so many memories. Thanks!

    // Nicolai (Denmark)

    Reply

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