Catching a bus before sunrise, we were excited that our journey might reveal some breathtaking sights across the Andes, given that the last time we crossed the skies were full of mist and rain!
Leaving San Pedro de Atacama, we passed towering volcanoes and reflective lakes.
Vicuñas scattered into the horizon as our bus sped past.
At 4,200m, we reached the Chilean-Argentinian border, Paso de Jama.
Brrrr it was cold as we negotiated Chilean and Argentine border controls!
As our bus descended into the mountainous northwest of Argentina, we couldn’t believe our luck as Salinas Grandes, at an altitude of 3450m above sea level, dramatically came into view. This giant salt lake blinded us with its dazzling white surface that stretched for miles (in fact, the area it covers is 212 km2).
Further along, we unexpectedly spied the famous ‘Seven Coloured’ mountains of Purmamarca and the varied array of mountainous colours (sorry, our photos totally don’t do justice to the magnificent array of colours!)…
Arriving into the city of Salta, we were delighted to find that our homestay was a vibrant and creative wonderland of rooms! Our host, Sophia, is a designer and this was clear to see in the way she decorated her home.
The provincial capital, Salta was founded in 1582 and is known for its beautiful Spanish colonial architecture and Andean heritage. It’s a city you could definitely linger longer in.
The city centres on Plaza 9 de Julio, an elegant, cafe-lined square bordered by sweet-smelling orange trees and neoclassical buildings.
There, we watched local school children handing out mini Argentinian flags as brooches, to celebrate the forthcoming Independence celebrations.
We loved the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (MAAM), which was founded in 1999 after the discovery of ‘The Sleeping Children from Llullaillaco’. Three Incan children, protagonists of the capacocha (a ceremony during which they were sacrificed to act as mediators between the people and the gods) were found 6,700m above sea level on the snow-capped summits of the Llullaillaco volcano. It was only as recently as 1999 that a group of American, Argentinian and Peruvian scientists made an expedition to the volcano and discovered the sanctuary. Finding out about these child mummies were the highlight for us.
It’s a captivating story – google it if you have the time or inclination. Imagining how it would feel to find this temple, untouched for over 500 years, and discovering three sleeping children inside, is mind-blowing.
Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photos of the exhibits. Photos can be viewed on the museum’s website though, if you’re interested.
Let’s finish this post and whet your appetite for Argentina! The local food – see empanadas and locro (stew) below – are just two of the dishes we’ve been enjoying!
Next stop, we’re off to stay on a Finca (farm), see you then!