From Cachi to Cafayate along Route 40

The road winds around incredible rock formations and towns that seem to be slumbering but boast their own history.

Route 40 runs between Cachi and Cafayate joining these two precious districts in the Province of Salta. At the same time, it provides a dazzling scene with the unusual and colorful geographical features of the Calchaquí Valleys.

As we drove away from Cachi, we knew a stretch teeming with natural beauty was lying ahead, with some towns where time seems to have stopped. Raised as part of the settlement of the Spanish forces in northern Argentina, they were later inhabited by the Jesuit missions, which raised churches and some houses that still stand.

Seclantás, Molinos, Angastaco, San Carlos and Animaná lie on this zigzagging road that features some stretches made of gravel and others made of sand or dirt. At Seclantás, where renowned cloth-making families dwell, we saw beautiful garments and traditional red and black ponchos from Salta hung in the yards. Likewise, the loom was settled and someone was weaving as if learning from their elders.

  • 160 kilometers

    160 kilometers

  • The Calchaquí Valleys

    The Calchaquí Valleys

  • Unusual and colorful geographical features

    Unusual and colorful geographical features

  • Intimate moments

    Intimate moments

  • Cafayate with its typical colonial attire

    Cafayate with its typical colonial attire

We walked about the narrow cobbled streets of those hamlets. Little by little, we discovered architectural details from the old days, such as the roofed galleries to provide shelter from the heat. We also visited some of the local churches. We noticed a huge contrast between the plantations in the farms and an arid environment a few blocks away from the downtown. Small stores offered regional jam for sale at every corner. We bought some jars and ate them on the journey. We also bought some craft wine we took home.

Quebrada de las Flechas spans for about twenty kilometers between Angastaco and San Carlos. We observed those strange slanted rock outcrops to both sides of the road. They resulted from the movements of the ground and the erosion of the wind during thousands of years. Formed by sandstone, their colors vary from gray to reddish ocher. They create a very strong visual impact.

We were able to stop the car here and there in order to take some photographs of those natural phenomena. We got passed several gorges so narrow we could almost touch the rock walls with our hands. The almost non-existent vegetation gave evidence of a dry environment and we could see hardly any animals, except for guinea pigs that fled away from us in terror.

Cafayate opened up its gates with its typical colonial attire. As we left Route 40 behind, we remembered some stanzas from songs and poems by Armando Tejada Gómez, Cesar Isella and “Cuchi” Leguizamón inspired by this endearing area in the Province of Salta. We agreed with them on the fact that there are reasons to pay tribute to it.

Related tours:
Arrows Ravine
Thousands of rocks shaped like arrow points aiming at the sky which provide a matchless physiognomy to this scene in Salta.

The Tin Tin Straight Line
One of the most beautiful scenes in northern Argentina lies just a few minutes away from Cachi

Autor Mónica Pons Fotografo Pablo Etchevers

Bear in mindBear in mind: The stretch of National Route 40 in question has 160 kilometers. It is essential to check road conditions and to drive slowly. There are no gas stations on the way.

Location

Activities and tours in Cachi

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