From South to North, Salta
From the very bottom of Argentina and one of the most Southern towns in the world we flew back to Buenos Aires for a night before jumping abroad a night bus to Salta. All in all we ended up spending eight nights in Buenos Aires so it was good to move on and spread our wings North.
Salta is quite a large city with about 14 museums to visit and a stretch of road dedicated to pubs and bars, none of which we saw open ourselves as they tend to only open their doors around the time Rob and I are taking ourselves home to bed. We are getting better though, we have started having dinner about 9:30-10pm and going to bed after midnight, however it has been a slow process.
We decided to take a tour up North to explore the Quebrada de Humahuaca region and decided to go with a company Turismo La Posada who offered a tour with pick-up at 7am and drop off at 8pm later that evening for AR$340 each. We were due to make about 7-8 stops along the way at places such as the Seven Colored hill in the village of Purnamarca, the Tropic of Capricorn, the town of Tilcara the Painters Pallet along with a promised great lunch stop to try the local cuisine.
It started off well and our first stop was made at a “Kiosco” to purchase a bag of Coca leaves to assist with the side effects of the altitude we were going to be undertaking during the tour. We then made a toilet stop at a gas station and 15 minutes later once we were ready to set off again a part fell out of the engine of the tour bus and the vehicle was dead. Quite ironic really as Rob and I were really quite chuffed with the luxury of the vehicle before-hand especially after experiencing two nasty overnight buses in Argentina so far. However we were mistaken and after 3 1/2 hours of promises that our new replacement bus would “be here in 15 minutes”, we finally took off after loosing the better part of the day. It was so frustrating as we just wanted to go back to Salta again, receive a refund and try again the following day but this was not an option. There was obviously a reason that this tour had a 13 hour duration with such an early morning pick-up but the English/Spanish speaking tour guide refused to see that and somehow thought we were stupid enough to believe we would still visit every location, with the same amount of time at each stop which would only mean we would be arriving back around an hour later than scheduled, the equation did not quite add up for us. The rest of the 22 tour goers were either Argentinean and only spoke Spanish and they seemed to be completely as ease that the tour they had paid for was being ruined and then there was a group of Chinese tourists who were more interested in playing cards and sleeping on the bus once we finally set off.
It was bizarre that nobody else seemed perturbed that we were being taken “for a ride” and that the 13 hour tour would obviously be affected by the loss of 3 1/2 hours. We kept asking the tour guide how we would still see everything and he assured us we would still see it all, then eventually he told us we would shave only 10 minutes off each visit, then he told us actually we would be getting back a little later than the original 8pm, and updated the arrival time to 9pm. Eventually we returned to our hostel after 11pm and missed out on at least two stops that we know of, the stop at Tilcara was whilst everything was closing down for the night and the lunch stop that happened at 5pm was at this old hotel that seemed to have been opened up after a few years purely to feed the 22 of us as it was too late for lunch to be served at any of the actual restaurants in the town.
Luckily the stops we did make were incredible and it was easy to push our misfortunes out of our mind and enjoy our dramatic surroundings. The tour would always be packed with not a lot of downtime with so much to see within the 13 hours. In hindsight if we had the time again perhaps an overnight stay in Humahuaca would have been better and then utilized local buses or taxi’s to visit the neighboring sights whilst working our way back down to Salta.