About 100km down from San Salvador de Jujuy on Argentina’s map, situated in the Lerma Valley at 1152 MASL at the foothills of the Andes mountains, we enter after a 2 hours bus drive in Salta, the historic capital of one of Argentina’s biggest and most beautiful and yet less well-known provinces with the same name. Salta city is becoming a major tourist destination and is the exception in a province where the landscape and nature, rather than the towns and cities, are the main attractions. Due to its old, colonial architecture (which within Argentina is the best preserved), city museums exhibiting a wide range of artefacts and art works from the native civilizations that flourished in the area (Salta was the southernmost region in the Collasuyu area from the Inca empire), tourism friendliness, its balmy climate, the nationally famous tobacco plantations and the natural scenery of the valleys westward, the city was nicknamed ‘Salta La Linda’ (Salta The Pretty). Hidden in the south west area of Argentina far away from mass tourism, at 1500 km northwest from Buenos Aires, Salta is not yet over estimating and over prizing itself and for this, gaining points at the touristic scoreboard. Offering beautiful views such as the 18th century council house, the colourful San Francisco Church, the neo-classical style Cathedral, the Victoria theatre and the ‘9 de julio’ central square it even reminds us of some Spanish cities.
Salta is also the starting point of the famous “Train to the Clouds” (Tren a las nubes) that climbs to the village La Povorilla at 4200MASL passing through nine tunnels, precarious zigzagging the steep mountain slopes and overpassing thirteen viaducts of which some constructed over 200 meter deep ravines.
(both fotos from the internet)
We find a nice place to stay offered by a gentle man at the bus station which is not too far out of the city centre and has all the features we are looking for: kitchen, Wi-Fi, clean bathrooms and a cosy collective area with pool, billard and ping-pong, just perfect to get in contact with other travellers. We walk the streets, squares and parks during a few days and have a bizarre kind of sensation of feeling at home while we saunter the pedestrian shopping streets. Restaurants with recognizable menus, a cinema with up-to-date billboards, a casino and the fashion shops with dresses and outfits we would actually see ourselves clothed with, makes us forget for some instants that we indeed are at the other side of the globe. Luckily there are some things that are unmistakable so Argentinian that we stay aware of our geological situation. The first one are the small eateries with different kind of empanadas and other fried or oven baked eat-out-of-the-hand dainties spread all over the city. As common as the first, is ice cream as each town or city has its own ‘heladerias’(ice cream parlours), open and crowded till past midnight, which offer a wide range of varieties of creamy and water-based ice creams, including both standard and regional flavours. There are hunderds of flavours but Argentina’s most traditional and popular one is ‘dulce de leche’. Another indisputable sign is the Friday evening cue at the butcher where meat is sold by kilos and half carcases to prepare the typical weekend barbeques as in Argentina the ‘asado’ is a serious issue and a cultural culinary statement of friendship and pleasure. Although founded in 1582, garbed colonial Salta fizzes of juvenility and makes it imposible for the traveller not to reside for some days.
- January and February are the months with greatest rainfall. During the spring, Salta is occasionally plagued by severe, week-long dust storms.
- We paid around 80 pesos a night a person at Hostal Palo Santo and enjoyed very much the ambient as well as the helpful staff.
- Lots of different tourist friendly agencies offer all kind of services and activities and are happy on helping you out with any questions or information. Comparing prices will take some time but will be worth the effort.