South America Travel Tips

Cafayate: Don’t Miss This Beauty (Unless You Hate Nature & Wine)

Just 3 hours South of Salta, Cafayate is very, very pretty. I decided to take a long weekend off from hard working in Salta, and booked a comfy double bed in a local hostel. I really needed to get some sleep back!

My goal was to meet lots of new people (hostel is way better than AirBnB for this particular objective), try the local wine (Torrontés, which is special due to its altitude), walk and trek to discover new landscapes and, mostly, rest.

Well, the double room I got in Casa ArBol Hostel was even more comfortable than the AirBnBs I stayed at before. A spacious bedroom, huge wardrobe, well lit and ventilated and a very, very comfortable bed. Overall a great, clean, small, friendly hostel with a special atmosphere.

I had a great time with the people I met, cooked together, ate out, hiked and even happened to go to an asado in another hostel – 4 very intense days with the biggest highlight being the Quebrada de las Conchas (or Quebrada de Cafayate), a beautiful, actually incredible area that would be perfect for the next “Lord of the rings” movie set.

But first, a little about Cafayate!

Cafayate: the town, the wine, the views

Cafayate is a pretty lay-back town, despite its touristy soul. It has a lovely square with outdoor restaurants and bars, lots of wineries of course and may ice-cream shops (here’s where I tried the popular “wine ice cream”, weird yet pretty tasty…)

We visited the wine museum (alright for the 100 pesos, but nothing special) and took a few walks outside town to enjoy the views. Some even visited the wineries but I didn’t bother.

The Awesome Quebrada de las Conchas (or Quebrada de Cafayate)

On Sunday we got a 45 mins bus to the furthest interesting location on the Route 68, called Garganta del Diablo (is this the official name of every waterfall? Remember this Garganta del Diablo, and this other one?).

You enter through a little canyon and then you can do a 5 min climb inside the throat of what used
to be a waterfall. The view, the size, the colour and the feeling are just awesome.

After this, we walked 400m towards “El Anfiteatro” a very similar rock formation to the Garganta del Diablo, with the only difference being this is an ideal area for music concerts: its natural amplification and shape are just perfect.

At this stage, our adventure officially started… we had to go back towards Cafayate in some way (with the next available bus very late that day), but we played by ear and started walking back towards a place called “Tres Cruces”.

I estimated 5km but at the end it was at least 9 or 10k (or at least it took way too long) – not a problem though, the whole group seemed to enjoy the walk along the main road, also featuring a picnic stop at “Ranch Rodolfo” – like it was later on renamed; I had bought sandwiches for every one at the bus terminal and everyone said this felt like an organized tour 🙂

Anyway, we reached “Tres Cruces”, a view point where you can appreciate the size, colours and magic of the beautiful valley. The views were just breathtaking.

The 6 of us resumed the walk towards Cafayate along Route 68, but this time with a slightly different plan to get us to our next stop: hitchhiking! Needless to say this was a first time for me, but it was lots of fun 🙂

A skeptical Argentinian couple picked us up after the three French had already gotten a lift. We stopped in an area that was selling water – and then resumed our walk towards Cafayate, hoping in a second lift back to town.

The total 20,5km we walked were worth the effort – we had great chats, drank lots of water and of course discovered even more magical locations.

Just an incredible day, completed at the end with another hitchhike – this time with a Romanian engineer who was driving the whole country in a rental car all alone (we even found him a place in our hostel and brought him with us out that night for a Fernet & Coca – the most popular cocktail here in

The day was worth it and after all I was not that tired (the Australians walked another 16 km the day after, while I rested instead – fair play to them).

So, yes, I had a great time. And now my “wine tour” continues… Next stop: Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina.

Right now I find myself writing in Tucuman bus station, not after eating some local empanadas of course.

I got here from Cafayate in about 5 hours in bus, on the most dangerous & worst road ever! Now I’ve only got a 13 hours night bus to Mendoza… so good luck to me 🙂

Talk to you then!