Wednesday, February 3, 2010

San Antonio De Los Cobres- Cafayate, Argentina

At 4900 meters on Ruta 40
An easy small crossing where I scouted the crossing before going back through to gather up Julie and re-cross again.

Our llama like friends

A phenomenon of crystal rainbow sky ...52 degree angle of light in the cirrus clouds

Medusa the cloud formation

The Llama hotel treated us well and we stayed until 10:30am to enjoy the lush hospitality. The road went from pretty bad to down right offroad riding but the good ole KLR handled it like it was born to eat this kinda terrain.
About 60km down the road we began ascending and were forced into 1st or 2nd gear. We were suprised by the epic views that we were treated to as we climbed the switchbacks to the summit of the mountain pass.
Along the way there were several herds of wild Alpaca like hoofed animals which we stopped to photograph. We finally crested the mountain top at 4900meters. This was the highest road that we climbed thus far and the air was thin. The views were stunning and we stopped for a while to appreciate the scenic beauty that few others travel to.
The road down the other side of the mountain was steep as well and we were forced to descend in the first 3 gears to control speed along the one lane dirt road. I was wondering how the heck someone would deal with two vehicles traveling in opposite directions as we passed an oncoming vehicle with only inches to spare.
As we got deeper into the valley and further from the snow capped peaks at 6000 meters the run off from the rains took their toll on the road. We were forced to cross several swift flowing rivers that were more that a foot deep. Julie was super stressed out about getting wet and pleaded to walk through them and get wet to the waist rather than ride through on the back of the bike and risk getting her feet wet. Like as if I'd dump the bike!
After all was said and done with the wash outs and river crossings we came to asphalt for the first time in 700km. We stopped in a town called Cachi for lunch and topped up with gasolina. There was a tour bus in town with all kinds of Euro's walking around who congregated around my bike to take pictures. Some of them stopped to talk but most got their shot and walked off.
From Cachi the environment became desert and sandstone sculptures carved by wind sand and water. The mountains were beautiful rugged desert mountains unlike anything I've ever seen. We encountered a German couple in their 60's bicycling along this same route in the 3 inch deep sand. We stopped to talk and appreciate just how tough they were. The German guy told me that the road kept getting more exciting the further we went south on ruta 40. I was hoping he was right and to our delight he was.
We called it a night in the Town of Cafayate, a major wine producing area of Argentina. We'll hike to a small river in the area tomorrow and stroll through the desert terrain to soak up the rays of the sun.


  1. love, love love this set of pics! Argentina is now on my list of places to go.

  2. These pictures are beautiful! Just saw the video & it is awsome!!!