Embalse de Calamuchita, on the way to Córdoba

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Travellers warned us that, if going more eastwards, hitchhiking will get more difficult.  So we try from Mendoza to Córdoba and get as far as San Luis.  A rather dark city where “hotels” charge you by the hour, taking for grant the fact that people here are looking for some kincky sex with one of the many prostitutes we have seen along the highway.  But as Giorgia doesn’t have me on her pay check, that’s not our case so we decide to spend the night on the ground in the bus terminal together with some other travellers.

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Next day we make a big step towards Córdoba, in the car of a nice couple, and call it the day as we reach Embalse de Calamuchita, a small town at the side of the lake.  Long recognized as one of Córdoba Province’s main holiday destinations, and where the urban tribe have holiday homes, the shamrock green Calamuchita Valley originates under Córdoba city at the town of Alta Gracia –see future posts- and goes for over 100km, between the rising and falling Sierra Chica to the east and the vertical Sierra de Comechingones to the west.  The wide-ranging foliage that covers the valley flanks makes available a impeccable environment for hundreds of species of birds and other fauna.

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Two large and uncontaminated reservoirs, Embalse Los Molinos in the north and Embalse Rio Tercero in the south, both dammed in the first half of the twentieth century for water provisions, energy and recreational fishing, contributes to the valley alternative name: Valle Azul de los Grandes Lagos meaning ‘Blue Valley of the Big Lakes’.  The two, after a long ride, are friendly enough to bring us till a nice camping ground just at the shore of the lake and our tent… at 2meter from the water.

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This stunning place almost secreted in surroundings of incredible natural beauty is rising on our appreciation-scale as we walk the path that follows the contours of the lake.  Vegetables, wine and half a chicken get paid at the local shop to prepare an ‘asadero’.  This is how good it can get: daydreaming with a glass of wine at the shore of what seems to be our lake… our secret place in the world, starring at the vast water surface that sparkles like a thousand diamonds under the afternoon sun.  Later on the day, with the wood red glowing awaiting some food to roast, the last wind breeze departs the valley leaving behind an absolutely flat surface.  The spectacle begins just after we filled the grill with our grocery shopping.  A stunning sunset reflects on the mirror that the lake has become.   Colours are fading into others as seconds tick away and the sun falls down.  The chicken gets turned as the sun hits the horizon at the other side of the lake.  The blue tints orange and orange turns into red a red sky while pink turns into light brown and light brown into crunchy dark brown on our grill.  By the time the sun hides her very upper bit, the violet and red sky fills with the unmistakable aroma of dinnertime.  We eat, we drink, we laugh, we love and we sleep… because tomorrow we have a long day towards Córdoba.

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Embalse is quite and honest, does not pretend to be what it isn’t and therefore becomes one of our better memories of a whole year of traveling.

Recommendations:

  • Don’t get fooled by this quite settlement… with about 8000 hotel beds, tourism is the principal economic activity of this  city (at the time of Argentinian holidays). But out of the hysteric-summer-mass-tourism-season, the camping ground gets quite, costs 50 Pesos Argentino each and has the basics (toilet, showers, electricity,…) still running.
  • Multiple encounters for various nautical competitions as well as rally, MTB, athletics, etc places Embalse as one of the most sportive spots of Córdoba. In 2012 officially named ‘Capital of Nautical Sports of Córdoba’
  • One of the yearly events with the highest convocation of the whole province is held from the 18th till 22nd of September. About 100.000 persons (mostly aged between 15 and 30) come for an unforgettable 5 days of national and international recognized musicians with their bands.  Four massive tents are transformed into mega-disco and host more than 30DJ’s equally well-known. For more info about activities click here.
  • On the way to Córdoba Capital, we manage to hitch-hike till a town named: Villa General Belgrano. It’s a Tirol-ish resort with for the most part Germanic residents.  Therefore, its traditional festivals, its art, folklore and its particular architecture style amaze visitors.  Here October is a substitute for noble and abundant beer.  Thousands of people participate on a pilgrimage to this place each year to take part in one of the supreme longed-for happening in Villa General Belgrano: the National Beer Festival!!! Villa General Belgrano also holds two more national festivals: The Alpine Chocolate Festival (July) and the Fiesta Nacional De La Masa Vienesa (April).
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