2013, a year of extremes in pictures

I’m gazing out of the window, the rain is lashing down in ‘sheets’, driven by high winds that are bending trees at an alarming angle. Although only early in the afternoon, the light has already started to fail, making it seem more night than day. The traditional New Year’s Day walk has been postponed – in truth cancelled – due to a general reluctance to endure the terrible weather in person.

My mind keeps wandering over the year just past: this time last year we were celebrating the arrival of 2013 in Sucre, Bolivia, our home for a year. Although we would spend another few months in Bolivia, we were already planning a journey north that would take us through Peru, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, before returning to Bolivia. In between, we’d visit Argentina and Chile, Bolivia’s wealthier neighbours, for a change of scene and cuisine.

The Fiesta de Virgen de Guadalupe, Sucre, Bolivia

The Fiesta de Virgen de Guadalupe, Sucre, Bolivia

The Fiesta de Virgen de Guadalupe, Sucre, Bolivia

The Fiesta de Virgen de Guadalupe, Sucre, Bolivia

So, with one eye on the coming year, here’s my homage to 2013, a year which took us from the heart of South America to the heart of Central America. A journey from the high Andean mountains of Bolivia to the turquoise waters of Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, and back again, before returning to Britain.

Adobe church and Vulcan Sajama, Sajama, Bolivia

Adobe church and Vulcan Sajama, Sajama, Bolivia

Siloli Desert, Bolivia

Siloli Desert, Bolivia

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Cemetery in the Atacama Desert, Chile

Cemetery in the Atacama Desert, Chile

Fiesta in Cuzco, Peru

Fiesta in Cuzco, Peru

Magical Machu Picchu, Peru

Magical Machu Picchu, Peru

Oasis of Huacachina, Peru

Oasis of Huacachina, Peru

A woman sits on a Botero sculpture, Medellin, Colombia

A woman sits on a Botero sculpture, Medellin, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

The Panama Canal, Panama

The Panama Canal, Panama

The beautiful San Blas Islands, Panama

The beautiful San Blas Islands, Panama

The Pacific Ocean from La Cruz, Costa Rica

The Pacific Ocean from La Cruz, Costa Rica

The magnificent Granada, Nicaragua

The magnificent Granada, Nicaragua

The idyllic Pearl Keys, Nicaragua

The idyllic Pearl Keys, Nicaragua

Glorious Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

Glorious Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

…finally, returning to reality in London…un feliz y próspero año nuevo por todo.

Tower Bridge, London, England

Tower Bridge, London, England

Argentinian North West: Susques

After the luminous white of the Salinas Grandes, we hopped back into the car and headed west towards the Chilean border and the picturesque village of Susques.

This was a journey made on a whim rather than any real plan, since we’d have to retrace our steps for nearly 200km back toward Purmamarca. Susques turned out to be a lovely little village with two beautiful adobe churches and some delicious saltenas to keep our spirits up for the return journey. I’m not sure I’d want to spend a week in Susques, but it is worth a visit just for the naive frescoes in the church.

The road west of the Salinas Grandes is hardly less dramatic than the Cuesta de Lipan, we spotted llamas grazing close to some adobe homes but the luminous grass was the scene stealer. Because there is little public transport in this part of Argentina it is customary to stop and give people lifts, which we did on several occasions. This included one old man who was going all the way to Susques (about 60km from where we picked him up) to make a phone call.

Adobe house en route to Susques, Argentina

Adobe house en route to Susques, Argentina

Llama en route to Susques, Argentina

Llama en route to Susques, Argentina

Llama en route to Susques, Argentina

Llama en route to Susques, Argentina

Luminous grass en route to Susques, Argentina

Luminous grass en route to Susques, Argentina

Despite the Chilean border being 100km further west from Susques, the Argentinian border control is located on the edge of the village, which means when you arrive you’re greeted by the sight of numerous trucks waiting for border clearance. A bit off-putting but carry on into the village and a different world appears.

Susques, Argentina

Susques, Argentina

Adobe church, Susques, Argentina

Adobe church, Susques, Argentina

Cemetery viewed from the bell tower, adobe church, Susques, Argentina

Cemetery viewed from the bell tower, adobe church, Susques, Argentina

Adobe church, Susques, Argentina

Adobe church, Susques, Argentina

Downtown Susques, Argentina

Downtown Susques, Argentina

Adobe church, Susques, Argentina

Adobe church, Susques, Argentina

Church interior, Susques, Argentina

Church interior, Susques, Argentina

Naive frescoes in the church, Susques, Argentina

Naive frescoes in the church, Susques, Argentina

Altar in the church, Susques, Argentina

Altar in the church, Susques, Argentina

Naive frescoes in the church, Susques, Argentina

Naive frescoes in the church, Susques, Argentina

Salinas Grandes…grande? really?

If you’ve ever been to the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia you know the true meaning of the term ‘salinas grandes’. So enormous is the Salar de Uyuni (the world’s largest salt flat) no one, not even at the Bolivian Tourist Board, feels the need to point out that it is, in fact, really quite large. It can, after all, be seen from the moon.

So it was with some scepticism that we drove over yet another mountain range towards one of Argentina’s largest salt flats, the Salinas Grande. Not withstanding the beautiful and dramatic hairpin bends of the Cuesta de Lipan on the drive to get there, arriving at the Salinas Grandes was still pretty spectacular. Set in a bowl ringed by mountains, the white of the salinas is almost luminous viewed from the 4170m mountain pass above it.

The dramatic hairpins of the Cuesta de Lipan, Argentina

The dramatic hairpins of the Cuesta de Lipan, Argentina

En route to the Salinas Grandes, Argentina

En route to the Salinas Grandes, Argentina

The Salinas Grandes in the distance, Argentina

The Salinas Grandes in the distance, Argentina

Snaking down the road towards the salinas we passed through yet more beautiful landscapes, and even saw a few of the rare vicuna camelids…

Vicunas near to the Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Vicunas near to the Salinas Grandes, Argentina

The Salinas grandes is still worked for salt. Today the majority of it is used for animal salt licks, but some salt continues to make its way onto the dinner plates of Argentinians, much as it has done for millennia.

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salt man, Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Argentinian North West: Quebrada de Humahuaca to Iruya

An alternative title to this post might be The longest day in a Volkswagen Gol, ever. Although that shouldn’t take away from the spectacular landscapes we passed through to reach Iruya, or the lovely people we met as a consequence of giving lifts to those whose car had broken down. Our destination though, if the Guinness advert was anything to go by would be worth it.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, first we had to pass through the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a drive that takes in some of the most extraordinary and ridiculous rock formations you’re likely to see.

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Eventually you reach the turn-off to Iruya, only 53km you’ll think to yourself, without realising that the road will be a real challenge in your Volkswagen Gol.

En route to Iruya, Argentina

En route to Iruya, Argentina

En route to Iruya, Argentina

En route to Iruya, Argentina

Cemetery en route to Iruya, Argentina

Cemetery en route to Iruya, Argentina

Cemetery en route to Iruya, Argentina

Cemetery en route to Iruya, Argentina

Iruya is a tiny village 53km off the main highway down a road that is made of rubble and passes over a spectacular mountain range. The thing about the road is, it is generally only wide enough for one vehicle, so when you inevitable meet another car or, God forbid, a local bus, you have only a couple of choices: reverse for 10km until you reach the last ‘passing place’, or squeeze past the bus with a 1000m drop off to the side if you misjudge things.

Valley en route to Iruya, Argentina

Valley en route to Iruya, Argentina

En route to Iruya, Argentina

En route to Iruya, Argentina

Bus, en route to Iruya, Argentina

Bus, en route to Iruya, Argentina

High point of the journey to Iruya, Argentina

High point of the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Iruya is beautiful Andean village, spectacularly perched on a mountainside at the end of a truly wonderous valley, which defies description as you drop over the mountain range en route to it. That said, after an hair raising journey squeezing past buses on mountain passes, if you arrive only an hour before sunset and the journey in has taken three time longer than you’d anticipated thanks to the road, you may find yourself thinking, “What am I doing here?”

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

People seemed genuinely happy to see us, although that may have been because we had half the village wedged into the back of the car thanks to their truck suffering a mechanical failure back up the valley. The village is very nice in a dramatic ‘clinging to the mountainside with cobbled streets’ way.

Iruya, Salta Province, North West Argentina

Iruya, Salta Province, North West Argentina

Safe in Iruya with unexpected passengers, Argentina

Safe in Iruya with unexpected passengers, Argentina

Iruya, Argentina

Iruya, Argentina

Iruya, Argentina

Iruya, Argentina

Iruya, Argentina

Iruya, Argentina

Something we’d failed to spot on the way to Iruya was passing over the Tropic of Capricorn. Despite the failing light we managed to see it on the way back.

Tropic of Capricorn, Argentina

Tropic of Capricorn, Argentina

Argentinian North West: Purmamarca and the Cerro de los Siete Colores

After a long, long drive from Cafayate all the way north to Purmamarca, a journey that took us through beautiful countryside but which also took the best part of a day, we were delighted to finally see the small village of Purmamarca. We were even more delighted to find our lovely adobe cabana on the outskirts of the village, complete with wood burning stove and fridge stocked with regional wines.

Arrival in Purmamarca, Argentina

Arrival in Purmamarca, Argentina

The village of Purmamarca, Argentina

The village of Purmamarca, Argentina

Home for the next few days, Purmamarca, Argentina

Home for the next few days, Purmamarca, Argentina

view from the cabana, Purmamarca, Argentina

view from the cabana, Purmamarca, Argentina

Purmamarca is a small but perfectly formed village full of picturesque adobe houses and a lovely colonial-era 17th century church. There is precisely nothing to do in Purmamarca once you’ve had a look at the market in the central plaza, but it is perfect for a relaxing few days and a good base for exploring this extraordinary region.

This region of Argentina is geographically close to Bolivia and it felt culturally closer to Bolivia than I’d expected…mainly because the region has more indigenous people than any other in Argentina. The food is also similar – Argentina may be famous for beef, but llama dominates menus in this region.

Iglesia Santa Rosa de Lima, Purmamarca, Argentina

Iglesia Santa Rosa de Lima, Purmamarca, Argentina

Main plaza, Purmamarca, Argentina

Main plaza, Purmamarca, Argentina

Main plaza, Purmamarca, Argentina

Main plaza, Purmamarca, Argentina

The thing that draws people to Purmamarca, other than to experience a traditional Andean village without having too many other tourists for company, is the extraordinary Cerro de los Siete Colores.

Seen at most times of the day, the Cerro de los Siete Colores is just another impressive example of this colourful mountainous region. Seen over a period of 45 minutes as the sun rises over the village, the Cero de los Siete Colores takes one an entirely different life…although this does also involve getting up before sunrise and standing in the central plaza in the cold waiting for the sun to work its magic.

Dawn over Cerro de los Siete Colores, Purmamarca, Argentina

Dawn over Cerro de los Siete Colores, Purmamarca, Argentina

Dawn over Cerro de los Siete Colores, Purmamarca, Argentina

Dawn over Cerro de los Siete Colores, Purmamarca, Argentina

Dawn over Cerro de los Siete Colores, Purmamarca, Argentina

Dawn over Cerro de los Siete Colores, Purmamarca, Argentina

Quebrada de Cafayate…home of the Monk, the Toad and the Devil’s Throat

In a region full of surprises the Quebrada de Cafayate must count as one of the finest. Driving north following the Rio de las Conchas, the road heads out across a fertile valley given over to vine cultivation, but soon the valley narrows to become more gorge-like and the landscape changes from green to red as mountainous rock formations start to dominate the landscape.

Not just any rock formations, some are uncannily reminiscent of a variety of familiar things: castles, a monk and, yes, a toad. All of this is situated in a landscape that frequently beggars belief – rock formations that glow red, yellow and every colour in-between in the subtle light created by a setting sun. If you want to see what wind and water can do to a landscape over millennia, this is the place to see it.

Los Castillos, Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Los Castillos, Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

El Fraile (the Friar), Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

El Fraile (the Friar), Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

El Sapo (the frog), Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

El Sapo (the frog), Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

El Obelisco, Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

El Obelisco, Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Rock formation, Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Rock formation, Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

El Garganta del Diabalo (the Devil's Throat), Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

El Garganta del Diabalo (the Devil’s Throat), Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina

Wine tasting and Quilmes (the pre-hispanic fortress, not the beer)

The dramatically situated pre-hispanic fortress of Quilmes lies a short distance south of Cafayate and is a fascinating place to visit, especially if you get there before the tour groups start to arrive. Continuously inhabited between the 11th and 17th centuries, at its peak Quilmes was home to over five thousand inhabitants. Inca armies tried to invade this region in the 1480s but failed to dislodge the Quilmes people from their mountain refuge.

Unfortunately, the Spanish arrived shortly afterwards and the Quilmes wouldn’t be so fortunate against this second set of conquistadores, although that didn’t prevent them from mounting an heroic resistance that lasted 130 years.

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

The Quilmes civilisation fiercely resisted Spanish colonisation of the region, and the site saw bitter fighting when the Spanish invaded. The fortress was the scene of several bloody battles and a devastating siege. After the Spanish had crushed the Quilmes’ resistance once and for all, those who remained alive were deported wholesale to the area around Buenos Aires.

It is a poignant reminder of the fate of all indigenous peoples who resisted Spanish invasion, a poignancy not made any easier now that Quilmes is the name of Argentina’s most famous beer brand and can be seen adorning the shirts of football players. Not exactly a dignified way for a once proud people to be remembered.

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

Ruinas de Quilmes, Argentina

After a sobering morning contemplating the historical injustices done to indigenous peoples across Latin America, it was back to Cafayate and a much anticipated wine tour and tasting at the Bodega Etchart. Etchart make a delicious Torrentes Reserva that we’d been sampling over previous days, so this was something to look forward to – yum.

WIne tasting at the Bodega Etchart, Cafayate, Argentina

WIne tasting at the Bodega Etchart, Cafayate, Argentina

WIne tasting at the Bodega Etchart, Cafayate, Argentina

WIne tasting at the Bodega Etchart, Cafayate, Argentina

WIne tasting at the Bodega Etchart, Cafayate, Argentina

WIne tasting at the Bodega Etchart, Cafayate, Argentina

WIne tasting at the Bodega Etchart, Cafayate, Argentina

WIne tasting at the Bodega Etchart, Cafayate, Argentina

Argentinian North West: the Ruta 40 to Cafayate

Jumping back into the car after breakfast in Molinos, we got back on the Ruta 40 and headed south to Cafayate and its fabled high altitude vineyards. I’d been looking forward to this part of our journey because the road passes through the surreal landscapes of the Quebrada de las Flechas, including bizarre and impressively huge rock formations.

The Ruta 40 is legendary in Argentina, it stretches for virtually the entire length of the country. La Cuarenta runs for more than 5200km north to south, and vast stretches of it remain unpaved. It makes for a magnificent journey through some of the most beautiful landscapes Argentina has to offer. If I’m being honest, our Volkswagen Gol, even with its raised suspension, was a little under-powered for the rugged Ruta 40 but we persevered…

The Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

The Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

The Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

The Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

The Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

The Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

Washing drying on the Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

Washing drying on the Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

The Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

The Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

The Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

The Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

Our Volkswagen Gol on the Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

Our Volkswagen Gol on the Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

Church on the Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

Church on the Ruta 40 between Molinos and Cafayate, Argentina

We managed to time our arrival in Cafayate to perfection, not only were we staying in another vineyard but there was a fiesta taking place in the town as well, with religious processions heading from the church around the town.

Religious procession leaving the Catedral de Nuestra Senora del Rosario, Cafayate, Argentina

Religious procession leaving the Catedral de Nuestra Senora del Rosario, Cafayate, Argentina

Religious procession, Cafayate, Argentina

Religious procession, Cafayate, Argentina

Religious procession, Cafayate, Argentina

Religious procession, Cafayate, Argentina

Religious procession, Cafayate, Argentina

Religious procession, Cafayate, Argentina

Religious procession, Cafayate, Argentina

Religious procession, Cafayate, Argentina

After a long drive and the excitement of getting caught up in a fiesta we headed a few kilometres out of town to the Vinas de Cafayate Wine Resort where we were able to relax with a delicious glass of chilled Torrontes and watch the sun set over Cafayate and the surounding valley.

Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort, Cafayate, Argentina

Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort, Cafayate, Argentina

Balcony outside our room, Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort, Cafayate, Argentina

Balcony outside our room, Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort, Cafayate, Argentina

Sunset over Cafayate from Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort, Cafayate, Argentina

Sunset over Cafayate from Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort, Cafayate, Argentina

Argentinian North West: Cachi to Molinos

I wasn’t sure we’d have time to stop for a night in Molinos, it’s only a short journey from Cachi and pushed for time it was tempting to continue on to Cafayate. In retrospect, that would have been a mistake. Molinos is a lovely village set in a beautiful landscape, with yet another colonial church adorning one side of the main square, but the real secret is that Molinos is home to a fabulous and historic hotel.

Directly opposite the Iglesia de San Pedro Nolasco is the eighteenth-century residence of the last Spanish governor of Salta, Nicolas Severo de Isasmendi. Thankfully for weary travellers this former Royalist residence has been transformed into a superb hotel, the Hostal Provincial de Molinos. Just what the doctor ordered after driving on the bumpy and dusty Ruta 40.

Only the most jaded traveller would find the journey between Cachi and Molinos dull…

The Ruta 40 en route to Molinos, Argentina

The Ruta 40 en route to Molinos, Argentina

The Ruta 40 en route to Molinos, Argentina

The Ruta 40 en route to Molinos, Argentina

The Ruta 40 en route to Molinos, Argentina

The Ruta 40 en route to Molinos, Argentina

The Ruta 40 en route to Molinos, Argentina

The Ruta 40 en route to Molinos, Argentina

From a distance Molinos looked like a picture postcard perfect village nestling below a mountain range. Even better than the view, we arrived at the Hostal Provincial de Molinos just in time for lunch – and freshly made, just out of the oven saltenas (completely delicious concoctions not unlike small Cornish Pasties).

Molinos, Argentina

Molinos, Argentina

Molinos, Argentina

Molinos, Argentina

Hostal Provincial de Molinos and the nearby church, Molinos, Argentina

Hostal Provincial de Molinos and the nearby church, Molinos, Argentina

Hostal Provincial de Molinos, Molinos, Argentina

Hostal Provincial de Molinos, Molinos, Argentina

Fresh saltenas, Hostal Provincial de Molinos, Molinos, Argentina

Fresh saltenas, Hostal Provincial de Molinos, Molinos, Argentina

Hostal Provincial de Molinos, Molinos, Argentina

Hostal Provincial de Molinos, Molinos, Argentina

Swimming pool, Hostal Provincial de Molinos, Molinos, Argentina

Swimming pool, Hostal Provincial de Molinos, Molinos, Argentina

After a delicious lunch and a bit of a lounge by the pool, we ventured out onto the streets of Cachi and were rewarded with some late afternoon shadows.

Molinos, Argentina

Molinos, Argentina

Molinos, Argentina

Molinos, Argentina

Molinos, Argentina

Molinos, Argentina

Molinos, Argentina

Molinos, Argentina

That night we were even treated to a full moon…

Full moon, Molinos, Argentina

Full moon, Molinos, Argentina

The early morning light in this part of Argentina is so beautiful that after a deep and peaceful sleep, I dragged myself out of bed to take some photos in the morning light. It was spectacular.

Early morning light on Molinos, Argentina

Early morning light on Molinos, Argentina

Early morning light on Molinos, Argentina

Early morning light on Molinos, Argentina

Early morning light on Molinos, Argentina

Early morning light on Molinos, Argentina

Iglesia de San Pedro Nolasco, Molinos, Argentina

Iglesia de San Pedro Nolasco, Molinos, Argentina

Argentinian North West: Cachi

If the route to Cachi over the twisting mountain roads of the Cuesta del Obispo is dramatic, so is the setting of this beautiful and tranquil village. Located at 2280 meters above sea level, Cachi’s colonial-era architecture has a fabulous mountainous backdrop, including the 6380m Nevado del Cachi.

The village of Cachi with the Nevado del Cachi as a backdrop, Argentina

The village of Cachi with the Nevado del Cachi as a backdrop, Argentina

The symbol of Cachi, Argentina

The symbol of Cachi, Argentina

Arriving in the lovely Plaza Mayor under a bright blue sky and a blisteringly hot sun, we found an open restaurant took a seat under a shady palm tree and sat down to enjoy a cold drink and the peace-and-quiet of the village. Apart from the occasional tour group from Salta, Cachi doesn’t seem to see much tourism and the streets are mercifully devoid of cars and buses.

A stroll around the empty streets brought us to the delightful Iglesia San Jose on the plaza, which not only has pews made from cardone wood but the alta is constructed from cardone as well – and that is why these incredibly slow growing plants are now protected.

The village of Cachi, Argentina

The village of Cachi, Argentina

Iglesia San Jose, the village of Cachi, Argentina

Iglesia San Jose, the village of Cachi, Argentina

Arches, the village of Cachi, Argentina

Arches, the village of Cachi, Argentina

Iglesia San Jose, the village of Cachi, Argentina

Iglesia San Jose, the village of Cachi, Argentina

Iglesia San Jose, the village of Cachi, Argentina

Iglesia San Jose, the village of Cachi, Argentina

Iglesia San Jose, the village of Cachi, Argentina

Iglesia San Jose, the village of Cachi, Argentina

Once you’ve wandered around for a bit, had a bite to eat and checked out the couple of artisanal shops in town, there isn’t a great deal to do in Cachi. However, there is a picturesque and dramatically located cemetery not too far from the centre of town that is well worth visiting. The colourful graves, adorned with plastic flowers, offer a stark contrast to the surrounding browns.

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina

Cemetery at Cachi, Argentina