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Posted 19 Mar, 2017 | 5 Comments
Posted in: Argentina, Our Story, Travel Blogs

Having your own wheels to explore is the ultimate in travel freedom, and the region around Salta is the best place to hit the road! We travelled for 8 days and 7 nights around the province of Salta and Jujuy in our little silver Chevy Classic, and have nothing but amazing things to say about this journey. What did we get up to? Read on to find out…

road trip from salta to cafayate argentina
Any route that is “wine” related is a good one to take 😉

Day 1: Salta to Cafayate

  • Distance: 191 kilometers from rental office to Cafayate
  • Route: Highway 68
  • Duration: 11:00am depart, 4:00pm arrive (5 hours including stopping)
  • Road Conditions: Good. Tarmac.
  • Highlights: Farmland, Sandstone Formations, Quebradas de las Conchas National Park

After filling out the final rental documents and doing a once-over of our vehicle, we were off.

Armed with a picnic lunch, a paper roadmap (which wasn’t very detailed), and our Google Maps app on our smart phone, we navigated our way out of the city.

Driving out of Salta was a dusty, busy experience, and it didn’t become “nice” scenery for about an hour or so.

But, once we were out of the hustle and bustle, the natural beauty of the area was revealed.

road trip from salta to cafayate argentina
The one tiny bit of shade we found, a great spot for a side-of-the-road picnic

We drove alongside lush green farmland and towering trees, before the topography morphed into desert landscapes complete with tall cactus and jagged mountains. We were in awe and we hadn’t even arrived at the good stuff yet! Once we hit the entrance to the Quebradas de las Conchas National Park, we were constantly pulling the car over to take photos.

travelling by car from salta to cafayate argentina road trip
With views like this, we couldn’t help ourselves from pulling over to take photos

The entire area was breathtakingly scenic.

After driving for 141 kilometers, we arrived at the most popular site in the Quebradas de las Conchas. There are a few main sandstone formations that are signposted for tourists, but even though we were looking, we almost missed the main formation, the Devil’s Throat (la Garganta del Diablo). We pulled over to check out the gaping hole in the ancient stone, it was massive!

Other notable sites were the Obleisk, Amphitheatre, Castle, Toad and Friar.

travel from salta to cafayate rent a car to see the devil's throat
The Devil’s Throat formation

For us, it wasn’t so much about the main rock formations, it was about the surroundings.

The entire trip through the national park was an otherworldly experience. We were completely engulfed by pink, red, purple, rust, and grey coloured rocky mountains. The sandstone slopes seemed like they would crumble if we looked at them the wrong way, while the shape and texture of the mountains was unlike any we had seen before.

road trip from salta to cafayate rent a car
The road trip was filled with beautiful landscapes

With about 20 kilometers left in our drive from Salta to Cafayate, we came across some massive oak barrels on the side of the road. Upon further inspection, we realized that there was a woman standing in one of them and that it was actually a little side-of-the-road wine bar!

We were given some goat cheese (very popular in this region), and a tasting glass of wine from the Finca La Punilla for 50 pesos each ($3.25). This was our first introduction to the wine region of Cafayate, which is surrounded by numerous vineyards and wineries and dotted with wine bars.

road trip from salta to cafayate side of the road bodega
There’s a woman in the barrel! This made for a nice pitstop about 20 minutes from Cafayate

Cafayate may not be a well-known wine destination like Mendoza to the south, but this northwestern town has rich soil and produces high quality grapes.

We had a feeling we were going to love this area, and had booked ourselves 4 nights in Cafayate to visit wineries in town, and the surrounding vineyards as well.

Our first night’s stay was at the stunning Patios de Cafayate boutique hotel. Turning off of the asphalt highway and down a dirt road lined with white grapes ready for harvest, was something out of dream. The blindingly white Bodega El Esteco was directly in front of us, while walking under an arched entranceway brought us to the hotel itself.

travel from salta to cafayate argentina stay at patios de cafayate
The blindingly white Bodega El Esteco greeted us as we arrived at Patios de Cafayate

We were told we had been upgraded to the “suite” room. Upgrades are never a bad thing, and as we walked up the stairs, we were grinning from ear to ear.

Opening the door to our suite we put down our backpacks and couldn’t believe our eyes. The room was massive! The beautiful bathroom had a jacuzzi tub that could easily fit 2 people, there was a living room area and a comfy king-sized bed.

travel from salta to cafayate argentina stay at patios de cafayate hotel
Our gorgeous suite room at Patios de Cafayate – we didn’t want to leave!

But, best of all was the view from the double-doors leading to our little balcony. The views of the pool down below and across to the vineyards and mountains made it difficult to leave the room. Beautiful little antique touches filled the suite, which were very fitting considering the original farmstead is from 1892.

where to stay in cafayate argentina patios de cafayate hotel
The view from our room was fantastic!

The character and decor of this boutique hotel was lovely. The only problem was that we could only stay for 1 night as they were fully booked this time of year! Elated with the hotel and how gorgeous the setting was, we made our way downstairs for dinner.

We were greeted with a glass of sparkling white wine.

An upgrade, friendly staff and now a complimentary glass of wine? It couldn’t get any better! Or so we thought.

road trip from salta to cafayate stay at patios de cafayate
This is the gorgeous setting of Patios de Cafayate and the Bodega El Esteco – amazing!

That night at the on site La Rosa restaurant I had the best steak I’ve ever had in my entire life. Chef Martín served up a rib eye that was marinated in a Red Wine Malbec sauce. It was juicy, oh so tender, and seasoned to perfection. On top of the slab of meat sat a little piece of herbed butter.

travel from salta to cafayate argentina stay at patios de cafayate hotel and restaurant
OK, so this photo is a tad bit blurry, but I was just so excited about this steak that I couldn’t keep my hand steady! haha

This night was also the first time that Nick had ever tried sweetbreads, which he actually really enjoyed. The chef constantly came around to check on everyone’s meals and the servers were very attentive.

travel from salta to cafayate argentina eat at patios de cafayate restaurant
Sweetbreads and tempura shrimp – an interesting and delicious combination!

With bellies full from our three course meal, we rounded off the incredible day with a relaxing jacuzzi before promptly passing out on the fluffy bed. Day 1 of our road trip was going to be hard to top.

Check out our video!

 

Travel Tips:

  • We booked our car with Cactus rental in Salta, and at $51.25 / day, it was quite expensive, but a normal price for Argentina. And, having the freedom to travel independently was worth every penny!
  • Even if we weren’t working with Destino Argentina, we would have stayed longer at Patios de Cafayate. Room prices start at $136 / night for 2 people including a buffet breakfast, and considering we’ve spent around $100 / night for a very basic room, this is excellent value.
  • If you don’t stay at Patios de Cafayate, make sure to at least visit their restaurant. The food is so good and at around $15 / main course, it’s very affordable.
  • Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the way to Cafayate, and make sure to have enough drinking water – it’s the desert after all.
  • It’s best to set off from Salta in the morning (but not too early), because in the late afternoon, the winds really pick up in the Quebradas.

A huge thank-you to Destino Argentina for arranging our night’s stay at Patios de Cafayate. And of course, a massive thanks to the staff of Patios de Cafayate for hosting us at the hotel and restaurant, and for making our stay a very memorable one.

Although we were working with the Argentinian Tourism Board as bloggers, we were in no way influenced or told we had to write in a positive way.

Like it? Pin it! 🙂



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Written by

Dariece is a co-founder of Goats On The Road, and together with her best friend, travel partner and love of her life, Nick, she’s been travelling the world since 2008…experiencing some of the least visited corners of our planet. She loves meeting new people and learning about the unique cultures of our world. Her advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider and Forbes.

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5 thoughts on “Road Trip in Northwestern Argentina: Salta to Cafayate

  1. Your video brought back wonderful memories of the trip we did last July. One spot near (in a South American sense) to Cafayate that we enjoyed was the vineyards of Colome. The drive was stunning and the vineyard and art museum were worth the time and effort.

  2. Love to see quirky things like that woman in a barrel, what spectacular countryside.I would love to do a road trip like this some day.

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