Monday, 23 April 2007

Pachamama's Sunday Best

From Amaicha we took the bus to Cafayate, another great wine growing area. Cafayate is a pleasant small town well geared up for tourists, sitting in an arid valley below the high Andean peaks.

After settling into the hostal, we headed over the road for lunch. Whilst sitting there in the sun I saw a kitten fall from the hostal balcony. So it was blue light on as I rush over to see if it was alright. She shook herself and then passed out. I thought she had died. I picked her up, she was still completely out, and ran into the hostal. She twiched, and then collasped again. Putting her down she tried to stand but was unable. Others now gathered to see the drama. I heard that my lunch was ready so left the little cat to the care of others. Later I heard she just picked herself up and shot out of the door. One life down, eight to go.

On the bus from Tucuman to Tafi Del Valle I got chatting to Emma from Liverpool, and we bumped into each other again at the hostal in Cafayate. We agreed that the next morning we would hitch to Rio Colorado. We had hardly walked to the vineyards before we were in the back of a pick up, which took us most of the way. We then got a further lift with an Argentinian couple in their hire car.

In the car park a guide offered his services. Initially we thought why bother with a guide, we could just follow the river up to the waterfall. But he told us there were two waterfalls and the second one was in a secret place! So for a pound a head he led us into the gorge.

Pink granite closed in around us as we followed the river, crossing it on stepping stones frequently. Cacti dotted the canyon walls and green shrubs hugged the river. It took just an hour and a half to reach the first waterfall. The water was freezing cold yet the weather hot and sunny. No way was I going swimming in the pool below the falls as the guide book suggested. The second waterfall truly was in a secret place, for we had to crawl through a rock cave to reach the site. We would never have found this without our guide.

We got a lift back into town for a quick lunch before climbing into a mini van to head out to Cafayate's principle attraction; the Quebrada Del Cafayate. Wow. For someone who loves landscapes this was the Earth at her most colourful. Here minerals have painted sediamentary rocks every shade there is, and twisted and folded the strata into the most fantastic shapes. The photos aree below. Geology can be the most interesting and jaw dropping subject!