Friday, February 24, 2012

The many colors of Northern Argentina - Jujuy

One of the most interesting places on my trip was the Jujuy region in the Northern Argentina. I was recommended to go there by a Porteño friend of mine Maria so I had put it on my long list. Jujuy or more specifically San Salvador de Jujuy is 90km north of “the capital of the Northern Argentina” Salta and wanted to make a visit there before Salta. I left Mendoza Saturday at noon and arrived to Jujuy at 8 am the next morning. I woke up a bit before we arrived so I got to “enjoy” the breakfast they served in the bus (tea or coffee, alfajor-cookie, bisquits and jam) and enjoy the views as we passed between green fields, forest covered hills and mountains.

I was fairly tired and moreover tired of travelling, packing, unpacking, walking, carrying my backpack… So doing nothing special for one day sounded like a good idea. I was relaxing in the hostel, playing with the kittens that lived in hostel roof, walked a bit around the town. I had a super heavy steak dinner in a nice restaurant (and it was cheap there!) and was ready sleep quite soon after that.

Lots of beautiful churches... 
The empty streets of Jujuy on Sunday

I had heard great things about the Quebrada de Huamamaca and the villages in the mountains in the Jujuy area. The next morning I took the early bus (oh my god I hate these early mornings by now!) to the village of Purmamarca. It was a 1h 15min ride from Jujuy, 60km. Except I had boarded “the slowest bus on earth”, so I think it took 2 hours. I swear we were going about 40 km/h on the highway – I was sitting in front so could have seen exactly how fast we are going on the speed dial but it was broke and stuck on 0 km/h. I’m just happy the old thing didn’t fall apart… The views were great but I was anxious to get to Purmamarca.

On the world's slowest bus
Purmamarca is small dusty village set at 2100m altitude, in the foot of the gorgeous Cerro de los Seite Colores – the mountain of seven colours. I think I saw more than seven colours when I climbed on top of the hill in the edge of the village. Beautiful! I keep being surprised how wonderful the nature is!

I could have sat there looking at the hills for hours... There's a little path that goes behind one hill (starts at the left on the picture above) so I went to take a walk behind the hill and found more of these colourful hills! And some funny cactuses.

From Purmamarca it’s only 45km to Salinas Grandes, salt plains. I had been told you can easily find a ride from Purmamarca to the Salinas and it was true. I had just bought my lunch for 5 pesos (less than 1€), three delicious empanadas and started to look for the cars – and immediately found one. The ride to Salinas took 1h 15mins for the mere 45km but we first had to drive up a serpent road to 4170m – the highest point I’ve been so far! 

From there we descended to 3450m, to the Salinas. The Salinas were now covered in water – I think it just made it look more beautiful: like a huge mirror. It was a gorgeous day there and the hour we had to walk around went surprisingly fast. The water was about 5cm deep – and my toes got a nice salt bath in the hour I spent walking around. I’m happy we had our own driver (in stead of being in a big tour bus) since I had time to take tons of pics :D I had imagined it to be warm or even hot there but you can really feel the altitude. Even on a sunny day long sleeves were quite nice.

On the left side (south?) of the road that crosses the Salinas
On the right side (north?) of the road
On the way back to Purmamarca - I'm not making this up, it actually looks like this!!
The entire trip there and back with three Argentinians sharing the ride with me – and offering nice mate as well – cost only 60 pesos (around 10 euros). And the bus ride between Jujuy and Purmamarca was 15 pesos so it was a cheap day trip! I came back to the dusty Purmamarca, had a nice homemade burger, got on a bus to Jujuy and in Jujuy got on a bus to Salta… A long day but the sights were so amazing I was full of energy! So full that I got lost on the way to the hostel when I arrived to Salta but luckily the taxi ride there was cheap!

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