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Review: Salta

City/Town/Region/Island

Salta, Argentina

Salta and the Andean Northwest

  • By SilverTraveller ChrissyN

    31 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon

  • Apr 2010
  • Husband

55 people found this review helpful

It’s now possible to fly from Buenos Aires to Salta in around 1½ hours making it much easier to explore the Andean Northwest area of Argentina. With the low foothills of the Andes as a backdrop, the city itself has a lovely main square, Plaza 9 de Julio, with a few well-preserved colonial buildings and a wonderful neo-classical cathedral. There are also a surprising number of museums and galleries and of particular note is the Archeological Museum which houses the mummified bodies of three children whose bodies were found in 1999 having been buried since the 1400s which were perfectly preserved in ice.

Apart from the above and a few interesting streets running directly off the main square the rest of Salta is very much a working town with an abundance of low quality shopping. Tourism is still relatively new to this area and service in restaurants etc., although friendly was very slow with no English spoken, so a Spanish phrase book essential. However, the local speciality snack of Empanadas (little pies filled with meat or cheese) and the excellent Salta white wine, Torrontes, more than made up for any shortfall in service as we spent several hours watching the world go by on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

There are a number of small boutique hotels springing up in and around the town, including the sister hotel to the one we stayed at in Buenos Aires, Legado Mitico Salta, which gets booked up very quickly so recommend booking early for good accommodation. We stayed just outside Salta at the House of Jasmines, a small old country house which was perfect and with its own excellent spa was very relaxing – www.houseofjasmines.com (for more details see separate review under hotels).

The main reason for coming to Salta is to use it as a base for exploring the area. However, it is also a great place for hiking, horse trekking with the local gouchos and the starting point for the Train to the Clouds which is a 15 hour round trip over bridges and viaducts with the highest being 13,850 ft, into Chile. Sadly it only goes once a week and did not coincide with our 4 day stay in Salta – but it looks amazing and if you go to this area and have the time the views of the Andes and heart stopping moments are reputedly breathtaking (Salta Tren de las Nubes).

We hired a car and drove down Route 69 running south to Cafayate which took approximately 3 1/2 hours through breathtaking changing scenery, an almost desert like valley with giant cacti, unforgettable red-rock ravines and surreal rock formations which have been created by erosion. The colours and shapes of the rock weathered over many years stretching for mile after mile as far as the eye could see was extremely impressive and not to be missed. As we neared Cafayate the terrain changed again as this is a famous wine growing area with stunning Bodegas (estates) around the town.

Cafayate itself is a wonderful small town with some good quality shops and a couple of excellent restaurants around the main square and where we had one of the best meals in the area and the Malbec was exceptional. We would happily have stayed in Cafayate for much longer sampling a few more glasses of the Malbec…

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