A Travellerspoint blog

Humahuaca, Argentina

From Salta we took a bus for 4 1/2 hours to Humahuaca. It cost $60 each and took us really close to the Bolivian border. We stayed in a really chilled and quiet hostel called Humahuacasa and it cost $45 each per night. The bus ride was amazing with huge mountains flanking us either side which were beautiful colours of reds, oranges, pinks, really cool. They are all formed in a wave like form and its actually a Unesco World Heritage listed valley. We could feel we were getting higher and higher as the bus struggled up the hills but eventually we arrive in perfect time to see a huge festival!! Its 2989m above sea level!! The highest we have ever been is 3210m so were a bit anxious to see how this would make a difference.
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In the town itself there is a lovely knobbly clock tower in the main square. You can see the bells through the not so safe looking open bell tower! Every day at noon a statue of San Fransisco Solano comes out to do a benediction then goes back in his box when the bells stop ringing!!
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The Church called Iglesia de la Candelaria was built in 1641 and houses the Patron Saint of the village Virgen de Candelaria, who, as it happens, they were celebrating the day of when we got there. Huge festivities going on with bunting and processions and music and drinking and horses. The whole place was packed but was really good to see. There were loads of people dressed in traditional clothing too which was good.
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There was a huge monument in the middle of the village which wasnt the prettiest one that we've seen but was interesting all the same.....!
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Posted by downbhoy 16:36 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Uruguay to San Ignacio, Argentina

rain

After a night near Salto at the Dayman thermal springs (Hostel Canela 900 pesos Uruguan for the night) we head across the border. The ’Lancha’ across the river from Salto to Concordia only took 15 minutes and cost only 90 pesos Uruguain. From Concordia we hop on a bus to Mecedes which took 4 ½ hours and cost 59 pesos Argentinian.

Most people use Mecedes as a base for the Reserva Provincial Esteros del Ibera, a huge wetlands with loads of wildlife including 350 species of birds. But we decided to bypass this area and head straight to San Ignacio where there are the Jesuit Missiones .

There is a famous gaucho called Antonio Gill ’Gaucho Gill’ who was born in 1847 a sort of Robin Hood figure, who was loved by most people. There are shrines everywhere with red flags and various offerings. January 8th is the anniversary of his death which is the busiest time to be visiting Mercedes. Pilgrims offer food, flowers, jewellery, photos and even 100s of wedding dresses!!!
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From Mercedes we go through Corrientes (3hrs, 51 pesos) to get a connecting bus to San Ignacio.

In San Ignacio we stayed in Adventure Hostel for 72 pesos total per night.

The hostel seemed to be pretty well equipped for travellers and holiday makers with loads of common space, ping pong, pool, good kitchen and lots of tent space. But we didn’t envy those in the tents one little bit because as we were walking to the Jesuit Missiones the heavens opened!! We had to duck into a café for about 1 ½ hours to wait the storm out.

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Eventually we get to San Ignacio Mini which was 30 pesos each. The ruins themselves were built in 1696 after the Jesuits had been forced from their original site in Brazil after repeated attacks from the Slavers. They settled in San Ignacio until 1768 when they eventually gave in to an expulsion order. The ruins laid undiscovered until 1897 and then restored in 1940s by the Guarani people who, at their peak, had a population of 4000. The ruins are spread over a really large area. All made of sandstone and very intricately carved especially thye entrance to the huge church just off the main square plaza. There are no roofs left in the ruins, just the walls of what would have been homes, churches, schools etc. The Coziguazu was the main house which was quite big with accommodation enough for widows without family and women whose husbands had gone on missions for months at a time. When we were here they seemed to be doing a lot of restoration around the grounds but not quite enough to keep us from getting soggy unfortunately!!
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Posted by downbhoy 16:36 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Salta Argentina

Salta.30/1/11

After an agonising 24 hour bus trip with Fecha bus which cost us 464 pesos each (!!!!) we arrive at Salta. The journey got a little tedious after a while as there are only a certain number of combinations of ham, cheese and bread that you can do and we had them all, twice!!!! Here’s just a few examples….!!
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In Salta we stayed in Inti Hausi hostel near the bus terminal which was 100 pesos for a double. But the first thing to do was to see how much of the airconditioning water my rucksack had soaked up during the 24 hours….. Not amused, but luckily it was just water and nothing else! I wondered why it was so heavy when I picked it up from the bus!

One of the most interesting museums we went to was the Museo de Arguelogia de Alta Montana (MAAM) whish is right off the Plaza Mayor.
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It was 30 pesos each to get in but it’s closed on Mondays. It told us so much about the Inca history and culture. The main ’attractions’ were the ’child sacrifices’ found ontop a mountain called Llullaillacu. 3 children were discovered during an expedition in 1999 which looked at this summit of 6739m. It is the highest archaeological site in the World and 2 girls and 1 boy were found here. They are said to have been offerings from wealthy families in order to secure good weather, prosperity and a bumper harvest. There would have been some sort of party heading up the mountain which included the children being drugged with coca leaves and alcohol. The children would have been told that they were being reunited with their forefathers and so didn’t see it as dying. Of course as they climbed higher and higher the altitude made the drugs and alcohol become more potent. Eventually the children would be in a coma and then they would be buried along with hundreds of grave offerings which were found with them- gold, silver, shell animals, handmade and embroidered dolls and clothing, hair braids and shawl pins all still intact when they were discovered. The colours were so vibrant as if they were made yesterday. The children were also scarily preserved too. They say that the high altitude, low oxygen and no bacteria and cold temperature was an environment perfect for preservation. So when they were brought down from the mountain and transported to Salta (a controversial decision) the conditions had to be matched. Everything was monitored from humidity to temperature and everything was in a separate glass case and couldn’t be touched. The actual temperature of the museum for us walking around was 18 degrees and we were freezing!!
There are 3 children but only 1 is on display 6 months at a time. The oldest is the ‘Maiden’ who is 15 years old and thought of as a Virgin of the sun. this was apparently a very prestigious role to have been given in an Inca society. She is sitting with her legs crossed and her hands resting on her abdomen. Her hair is plaited and she has a silver shawl pin keeping her shawl in place.
The 2nd child was a little boy who was 7 years old when he died. I think he is kneeling with his head turned to face the rising sun. he has a head dress type hat on and wears a red cloak.
The 3rd child is a girl of 6 years who sitting cross legged. Hair braided, coca leaves still around her lips and her mouth open ever so slightly and you can see her teeth. Her eyes are closed. She was the one who was on display when we visited. So perfectly preserved- except from the damage done by lightning years ago which burnt her hair and scalp.
There have been a lot of investigations done on these children since they have been brought down from the mountain, but they have been limited to 15 minutes exposure outside of the preferred environment. X rays, CT scans and others tests have shown that all their organs are still intact. The only thing which is sad is the intentional cranium damage to the 2 youngest children. This was common in children from high class families to show noble birth.
There are no photos for the museum because we werent allowed to take any inside.

After the museum we went to check out the plazas and other interesting buildings. There is a lovely pink cathedral which was built in 1878 on the plaza 9 Julio. Really intricately carved and really pretty. The other church was is Iglesia San Francisco which is purple and yellow, quite striking. We would have done the cable car up tot the top of Cerro San Bernard to see the views and monument but there was a huge thunderstorm like we have never seen before, imagine Disney thunderstorm and this was just like it!!!!
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Posted by downbhoy 16:28 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Iguazu Falls

29/1/11
We stayed in Puerto Iguaçu not far from the Falls in a hostel called ‘Hostel sweet hostel’. It was a 10 bed dorm and the room was rammed!! Not really any space accept for the 5 bunk beds and a bathroom. There was 1 saving grace though which was the air-conditioning! It was 40 pesos pp/pn and had a small pool and an even smaller ‘kitchen’! the town itself is just full of restaurants, hotels/hostels and gift shops aimed at the thousands of visitors who pass through there each year.

So the next day we head off to the falls. Our short bus trip cost 15 pesos return but we had heard of horror stories of tourists getting charged literally hundreds of pounds just for this trip alone, let alone getting into the falls!! Anyway we arrive at about 0800 and don’t realise how big this park is!! The entrance is 100 pesos each and you can get the pass stamped on the way out if you want to come back the next day for half price.


There are 4 main routes in the falls. The first one we took was up to the Gargantia del Diablo (Devil’s throat). Two trains took us to a range of walkways about 1km from the spectacular water. As we walked over the gangplanks we could hear the noise from the falls from ages away and it only got louder!!
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You could also see the huge plume of mist from miles away too coming from the mass of water as it plunged hundreds of feet. But we just weren’t expecting it to be so wet, well we knew we were going get rained on but what we actually didn’t expect was to get absolutely soaked right through. We were very lucky to have a little waterproof camera and the waterproof cover over the bag with the big camera otherwise everything would be drenched!! But it was amazing! We cant understand where all this water comes from though!!! Tonnes and tonnes of water just topples over this semicircle and disappears into the mist. It is just immense!!! From the walkways you could see the Brazilian side of the falls , but quite a few people had said that the Argentinean side is much bigger.
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The other circuit is Paseo Superior - the upper walkway just below the Devil’s throat. Got some really good panoramic photos here and great rainbows too with the sun coming through the mist. Some great views of the enormous amounts of water falling!
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The next one was Paseo Inferior with loads of steps going right down to the water. Some amazing sights looking up at the waters.
Unfortunately the ferry over to the little island in the middle of the river wasn’t working that particular day which was really annoying but just one of those things. There are loads of walkways and places to picnic and swim apparently on the island, but was it wasn’t to be. There was a speed boat thing still working which took you under the waterfalls but was quite expensive so we didn’t do it.

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So that was Iguazu Falls!! Enjoy the photos!!

Posted by downbhoy 16:16 Comments (0)

El Silencio

Estancia, Uruguay

sunny

This place isn’t in the Lonely Planet but I really want to recommend it to everyone because we had such an amazing time here but at the same time it was because it wasn’t touristy that we enjoyed it so much. We caught a bus from Colonia along route 14 heading for Durazno and asked the driver to let us off at 166km. 2 ½ hours later we were walking down a long dusty track leading to El Silencio 2 km away, but luckily their neighbours were driving home so we got a lift up to the Estancia, good job though because its quite tricky to find and there are hardly any signs.
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We met Gonzalo who ran the ranch but it was quite evident that we were going to struggle with the language barrier!! But it was a good job that there was another English couple there (Mat and Piumi) who spoke much better Spanish than us!

Our first outing on the horses was at about 6pm so we herd up the cattle and trot around a LOT of land. It was quite ironic though that from everywhere on the Estancia you could see the abitoire, a huge white building seen from everywhere! Sad really.

Our little companion Ronaldo a Collie cross came on every ride with us and was really sweet and obedient.
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Also on the treks came Jose the gaucho and Lucia (Gonzalo’s daughter). It was kind of funny though because we had this idea of a gaucho having a simple life riding around on horseback etc but Jose had a this amazing motorbike which he scooted off on the first night we were there!!
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The food in this place was gorgeous and so much of it. Maria (Gonzalo’s wife) and Teresa (the cook) did such a fab job at keeping us full!!!
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Maria was really funny she struggled to pronounce Darren so ended up calling him Martin!! So Darren started to call her Victoria!
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Next morning we got up at 0630 to milk the cows for milk for breakfast. It’s really hard to do! I got it with my right hand but nothing with the left hand, Mat on the other hand was the other way around! But Jose was a machine!!!! And soon the bucket was full of white frothy milk ready for the day.
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The morning ride was sorting cattle out by size so that the smaller ones could be taken to better land to graze so that they caught up with the already bigger ones so that they were all the same size when they went to the Abitoire. It was amazing to watch a few horses and Ronaldo split up 130 cows according to size. Soon enough they were sorted and one load was taken away by Lucia and Jose whilst we took the other half. But actually Gonzalo thought that Piumi’s horse had had enough! Piumi had been struggling with her horse who we nicknamed Abuelo (grandad) after we found out he was 24 years old!! For most of the way back poor Piumi had to be lead by Gonzalo because Abuelo refused to go anywhere!! Gonzalo promised to change the horse for the next trip out. The horses on the whole were really responsive actually, you only needed to move the reigns a cm and they knew which way you wanted them to go which was quite good considering neither me nor Darren had never really ridden before.

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After taking the cows out to pasture Gonzalo told us about a lake that we could go to where there was a canoe that we could use. So we off we go. Its about a 20 minute walk still within the land owned by Gonzalo and Maria and was set in a really beautiful spot. Mat did a bit of swimming but me and Piumi declined because we thought we’d never get back in the canoe if we got into the water!! But it was lovely just paddling up and down, chatting away.
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The next morning was our last ride and was certainly the best. Jose took us for miles up the track, which we weren’t initially very impressed with. But then we turned into the fields and Jose just said ’Ride’ which we did!! It was amazing! Properly galloping along the fields, it was brilliant fun. Darren was the star of the show though and on his 7 year old horse they were having such a fantastic time, a few hair raising moments when his saddle came undone a few times at full pelt, but no accidents were had.

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All too soon our time was up and we were heading to our next destination, Salto in Uruguay, quite near the border of Argentina.
The Estancia was $60 USD per person per night. I know it is expensive but the experience was amazing and we were so well looked after.

Posted by downbhoy 16:02 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

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