From Bariloche, we continued our exploration of South America in Northern Argentina and flew to Salta. The Salta region was one we added to our itinerary late in the game after hearing others tell us it was a place we had to visit. As amazing as Patagonia was to visit, we were truly amazed with all that Northern Argentina has to offer. Of all the stops we made in Argentina, the small towns in the north were the most unique and felt the least “touristy”. Cites like Ushuaia we enjoyed and felt are worth it to spend an extra day or two before or after a cruise. The region around Salta was so impressive, it is worth making a trip to experience on it’s own.
We moved around quite a bit while exploring the Salta and Jujuy provinces of Argentina. After arriving in Salta and picking up our rental car, we spent one night in the Hotel Alejandro °1 before hitting the road the following morning. From Salta, Tilcara, our first stop was about a three hour drive.
Tilcara is a little town about 20 minuets north of the more well known and more touristy Pumamarca, home to the Hill of Seven colors. While we are sure we would have also enjoyed a stay in the more touristy town of Pumamarca, we really were happy we chose to stay in the slightly less traveled Tilcara. There were plenty of hotels, inns, bars & restaurants, but the town had a bit more of an authentic feel without being visited by several day tour busses. We found a small inn, located a couple cobblestone blocks away from the town’s main square. Being a bit more remote, our Inn was another “cash only” establishment, but after our previous three weeks in Argentina, we’d become a little more used to the Argentinian way of life… The whole area has a very southwestern feel, and the winding trip up over the mountain pass to the salt flats (3450 meters above sea level) were definitely worth the trip.
Tilcara to Cafayate would have been a six to seven hour drive, so we opted to break up the travel with another night at the Alejandro Hotel on the way. Three hours in the car with the girls can be quite manageable, six or seven tends to get a little long and is almost asking for battles.
The drive to Cafayate from Salta is one of the favorites we’ve ever made. The first two hours were nothing special, winding along the highway and through a few nondescript small towns. The final hour of the drive felt like we had been transported into another place altogether, and offered some of the most amazing rock formations we’ve ever seen. The scenery seemed straight out of a movie set, or even another planet – a mix of desert and mountains and so many colorful rocks. After our one or maybe even two hours winding our way along the impressive rocks, pulling over for each viewpoint, we found ourselves in the middle of Wine country, complete with vineyards, restaurants, and small hotels and resorts. We spent three nights at the Patios del Cafayate hotel.
Before arriving, we had visions of visiting the regions vineyards and organizing a few day tours while in the area. However, after we arrived, spent a morning by the pool where the girls made friends with another year long traveling family, we barely left the resort for three days. The menu while a little limited, was full of tasty well prepared options at very reasonable prices. The wines offered in the restaurant are those prepared from the grapes grown onsite and were all very tasty. Outside of a guided one hour horseback ride one afternoon, we basically relaxed and enjoyed the winery’s amenities. The pool was just the right temperature to cool off on a hot day, and the girls really loved swimming and playing with their new friend.
After a very enjoyable stay in the region of Salta, we once again boarded a plane and flew east. Next stop: the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls. The impressive falls divide Argentina & Brazil, and there are opportunities to view them from both countries. Being so hot, we chose to visit the falls on just one day while in the region and spent the rest of our time resting and relaxing around the Iguazu Grand Resort.
There are several paths available on the Argentinian side to walk and view the falls, and over the course of three or four hours, we walked about one and a half of the designated trials. We first rode the train to the end of the line and walked the platforms that look out across the top of the falls. We then rode the train back to mid station and walked about halfway through a second circuit before deciding to make our way back to our hotel for a dip in the pool and one more steak dinner. The falls are definitely impressive and the water was racing.
Upon Emily’s request, we selected the Iguazu Grand Resort as our location to celebrate her birthday. The hotel was kind enough to upgrade us to a family suite complete with two bathrooms and two bedrooms, and we all really enjoyed the extra space.
The birthday girl had a great birthday weekend, complete with a visit to the spa with mom for a pedicure, some time in the pool, a walk along the boardwalks above the falls, tasty meals in the hotels various restaurants and a tango show. While it wasn’t a birthday party with friends at home, she definitely was excited with all of the experiences. The hotel did a really nice job recognizing her day, complete with a birthday cake delivered to our table at breakfast, and then a second cake at dinner, delivered by Moana herself.
After a couple of travel days, we drove two and a half hours to the salt flats. We took ten thousand pictures with my stuffed animals on the ground. One picture was with us coming out of the chip bag, another out of daddy’s backpack. then Angela and I mined. Angela found water more than once under the salt, she was good at that. We had so much fun once we stopped taking pictures. Went back to town and Daddy got me a big piece of Dulce de leche cake from the market in town. The next day, we drove back to Salta again.
At dinner that night, we at ate a Patagonian grill restaurant. We were eating dinner and all of a sudden, a guitar was playing. the next second people were dancing all over the place. It was amazing – an awesome day for us.
On Monday, we drove three and a half hours. Some mountains looked like dinosaurs or dragons. We made this one stop called the devils’s throat. There was a sign that said don’t go up. Teenagers thought, “I’ve lived long enough,” and went up anyway. A tour guide said, Don’t go – it’s dangerous. They were lucky they didn’t die or did they, no one knows. Amazing day – we’ll stop again at the Devil’s Throat.
On Tuesday, we were checked into our room and swimming in the pool when we met a girl named Violet. We went tot he playground and pretended we were forest girls. We had a wolf named Trixy. We ran back and forth from the playground to the pool all morning. At lunch. Theodore,(Violet’s little brother) first drank part of Angela’s water. Then double dipped his french fries in Angela’s sauce. Angela gave him the sauce than he decided he didn’t’ want it. Instead, he ate the French fires down to the last bite and threw the last bite. One piece bounced off the concrete and into the pool. We then put on our jeans and went to ride horses through the venyardo [vineyard] A little colt followed us the whole way. That night we had dinner with Violet and her family, it was another amazing day.
On Wednesday, Violet had to go so we had a quiet day at the pool. In the afternoon, we went to the most boring yoga class ever. Angela and i decided we would just go back to the room. The day would have been much more fun if Violet was still with us.
After a couple of travel days, we arrived in Iguazu Falls. The day after we got there was MY BIRTHDAY! The second I woke up, Angela said Happy Birthday Emily! She gave me a really squishy ball with stuff all over it. When I pressed on it, it lit up. Mommy gave me a panypedy (Manicur, pedicur) First we went to the pool and met a girl named Amber. She had a big sister named Roseba. She spoke English really well and we had lots of fun together. My maniped was fun, but not waht I expected. That night at dinner, Mulan came!and a guy with a harp came and played happy birthday and all the servers of course sang and brought a cake. It was orieo ice cream cake! After dinner, we went to a wait for it… TANGO SHOW! It was so cool People acted out stories while dancing the tango. It was an amazing awesome day all day.
On Saturday, we wen to the falls. We had a thirty minute walk in each directions and saw the biggest of the falls. If you fell off, the second you hit the water, you’d be daed. It was fun til I got wet, cold and itchy. On the way back we saw a family of animals. They had babies and everything and they were all walking on the same walkways we were to view the falls.
We spent one night in the city of Salta and something very bad happened. We got in late at the Alejandro Hotel and ate a heavy dinner. In fact, it was too heavy – We had so much, so late, that the next morning at 4:00 AM, I… thew up.
The next day, we drove to a little town and found a nice restaurant for dinner. After breakfast the next morning, we drove to the salt flats, and saw a seven colored mountain. We took hundreds of funny pictures. in some we were running or cowering from a giant penquin, when actually the “giant penguin” was Emily’s stuffed animal. We took one coming out of the potato chip bag, and one with Emmie holding me holding mommy. Overall, it was a lot of fun, but it dit get kind of boring/annoying when we kept hearing: 20 steps back, wait no ten steps forward, now three steps to the side, alright, now pretend to run… On the way back we drove past the seven colored mountain, but the salt flats were much more cool.
After one more night in Salta, we drove to Cafayate and stayed in a hotel called, “Patios de Cafayate” On our first day, we went for a short swim and met a reaally nice girl who was eight.. Her name is Violet. We’d swim together until we got cold, then play on the playground until we got hot and then dunk in the pool again to cool off, over and over. When lunch came, we set up a table for the kids. Violet’s little brother didn’t have what I like to call “Table Manners” He double dipped his french fry in my sauce, drank from my water, and played with the stick that came with my burger. I didn’t really care about the stick, but I didn’t’ really like him stabbing holes with it in my food over and over. He also would eat down to the last bite of fry and then chuck it away. One even landed in the pool.
Later that afternoon, we took a horseback ride through the vineyard. Mommy’s horse was also a mommy, and the colt followed us through the whole ride. Towards the end, we even got to taste some of the grapes that were growing on property. That night, we had dinner with Violet and her family. I sat and talked with the adults about yearlong trip they were taking through South America while Emily and Violet talked about movies. It was a great end to a fantastic day. In the morning, they showed us the cool camper they were traveling in. It had a kitchen, a bedroom and when they were stopped the roof could fold out to create a dining room. I sure am going to miss Violet!
Our first full day in Iguazu was Emily’s birthday. It was all I could think about when I woke up, and I waited forever for her to actually wake up. At breakfast, the servers sang Happy Birthday, and brought her a cake. A cake at breakfast! Whoa! Then Emmie and Mommy went to get the manny-pettie and daddy and I played giant chess before swimming in the pool. I met a nine year old girl and her fifteen year old sister in the pool and we had fun together. Then Emily joined us and she made everything more fun as usual. We went to a fancy dinner that night, and after dinner, they brought out an Oreo Ice Cream cake with Mulan’s face on it and Mulan even came to say happy birthday! Finally, we watched an amazing tango show.
The next day, we took a cab to teh falls. Once there, we took a train to the place with a bunch of different trails to see the falls, and picked the bule trail to the fall called teh Devil’s throat. We walked for quite a hiel before we came to the falls, but those falls were worth it! This was the water fall version of the Devil’s throat. It was at least a mile down and a quarter of a mile across – it was amazing. Later, we had ice cream and saw las hermanas with in English is “the sisters” The sisters were two twin falls, side by side. By the end of the day, I slept very well
Many of our cruise partners sail along the coast of Argentina, around the southern tip and up through the Chilean Fjords.
While a cruise is a great way to see several areas and decide which you’d like to return to, land based tours will offer opportunities to get even deeper into the country.