Days spent: 1+1/2
Days recommended: 2
What we ate: Argentinian empanadas, tamales (steamed dough in a corn husk), humitas (boiled corn, onions and spices with occasional cheese, wrapped in a corn husk) , pollo asado con cerveza (grilled beer marinated chicken), llama steak @ Mikunayok in Humahuaca.
What we drank: Salta beer (Rubia y Negra) and s*** loads of water.
How we travelled: by car. We left Cafayate in the AM and drove through the Quebrada de las Conchas, where we picked up Axel and Jose, two young Argentinian hitchhikers who taught us some basic Spanish grammar and disclosed the secrets of a state of the art mate. We drove past Salta and Jujuy and finally reached the mountain region of Quebrada de Humauaca.
How many km we walked: 20
How Quebrada de Humahuaca affected our wallets: quite significantly. Apart from the expenses of the car rental, board and lodging turned out to be very pricey. The gasoline was on Iceland’s standards!
Issues we encountered: the main issue was related to the car rental. Unfortunately we were not given the option to drop the car in Humahuaca or Jujuy, which were both very close to our next destination, the Bolivian border, and we had to drove all the way back to Salta to then catch a bus and travel all the way back North. Quite silly and a bit of a waste of time.
Bring both light and warm clothes, it gets very chilly at night and incredibly hot during the day.
Finding a hostel was also another major issue. Unorganised as always, we reached the Quebrada without making any reservations and oh man, we did struggle A LOT to find an accommodation (precisely 3 hours on our second evening). If you are on a low budget, maybe make some planning this time around.
AND don’t forget to have cash with you! Nobody seems to accept credit cards in Argentina and the commissions at the ATMs are nuts.
Would we recommend it? Yes, even though the above mentioned issues pained us quite a lot. We blamed ourselves for not having made different arrangements. However, while we were there, we also noticed that the Quebrada de Humahuaca is not the easiest place to visit without a car. Matter of fact is the UNESCO heritage ravine you drive through and its barren, cacti-inhabited surroundings, are utterly breathtaking.
Analogue tips: low ISO films to compensate the bright light and a polariser to make the most of the cotton candy clouds. A wide angle lens won’t hurt either.
What to do:
- Purmamarca. A small village set at the base of a multi-hued mountain, the 7 colours mountain. Dusty air, handicrafts, tourist traps and stoned backpackers around every corner, the town itself is actually nothing special but the view of it from the hill right opposite is to die for. Rumour has it, the colours of the trademark mountain are at their best at dawn, however, being there early in the AM was not an option. We gingerly climbed the slippery hill at sunset, and, to be really fair, the view was striking anyway.
- Tilcara. Right next to some pre-Hispanic remains, this vital backpacker friendly village is actually the best compromise in the whole Quebrada for lodging. The prices are still quite high but definitely not as bad as Purmamarca’s. We cluelessly witnessed the opening of enero tilcareño, a traditional folk festival, prequel to Huamahuaca’s big carnival, from our car, which got embarassingly stuck in the middle of a triumphant parade…
- Uquía and Quebrada de las Señoritas. A timeless, quiet village, overlooked by a small white church. We walked uphill through the empty narrow alleys of Uquía and we reached its cemetery, which immediately caught our eyes. The landscape is too barren here to allow any flora to grow, and posy flowers won’t last more than few minutes. Therefore bountiful bunches of tacky plastic flowers and religious decorations are taking over the whole graveyard creating, with the Quebrada’s peculiar red mountains in the background, a quite unique sight. We walked under a midday burning sun along the Quebrada de las Señoritas, an empty riverbed which leads, after almost one hour trek, beads of sweat and countless swearings and afterthoughts, to a long gnarled path carved inside the red rocks. It’s just you, the sun, the cacti and the canyon. None else to be seen around. A must do experience in my opinion. [don’t you even dare trying without big supplies of water]
- Humahuaca. The biggest village of the Quebrada, in typical Argentine North-West style. Nothing to die for if no events are scheduled or if you won’t make it to Serrania del Hornocal.
Things we missed: Serrania del Hornocal, a mountain range at more than 4500 m above sea level, famous because of its out of this world colourful rock formations. Sadly enough didn’t have enough time for it and, on top of this, the way up there has a bit of a bad reputation for non 4WD cars. Daily tours are arranged everyday from Humahuaca.
Canon EOS 300, Kodak Pro Image 100/Agfa CT Precisa 100 (35)
Olympus OM-10, Lomochrome Purple 100-400 (35)
LC-A+, Fuji Superia 200 (35)
Olympus OM-1, Agfa Scala 200 (35, expired)
3-4/01/2017, Quebrada de Humahuaca (Argentina)