We were welcomed by sun and warm temperatures at Cordoba Airport. We rented a car to do a one-week road trip covering about 2000km. This involved lots of driving and we should have probably taken more time to do it ;-).
There seems to be little touristic sights in Cordoba itself so we headed Northwest to San Marcos Sierras – a sleepy village in the middle of the Argentinian Pampa. We stayed at a typical Estancia, got some supplies in the tiny but well stocked almacen in the village and enjoyed our apero riche in company of a farm dog and horses. The next morning we woke up with sunrise, pink storm clouds and a rainbow before heading out with the horses guided by Mario – the guardkeeper and gaucho.
Then we drove to Tinogasta – a long drive over straight roads until heading into the Adobe Valley. We heard that the region is renowned for its wine – unfortunately most bodegas seemed to be closed when we were there. Tinogasta is a sleepy local town with only little touristic attractions. We spent the night in a cute hotel just outside of town.
On day three we took the famous Ruta 40; this roads crosses the entire country from the north al the way to southern Patagonia. After a few hours on this dusty road, we stopped at the ruins of Quielmes for a short visit and then reached Cafayate. The small, charming town is very welcoming and is accessible for tourists. The wine region around is famous for its whites and reds and offers several bodega visits.
On our second day in Cafayate we visited a very modern, medium sized bodega: Bodega Piatelli. After a cellar visit we tasted about 7 different wines from their local as well as their Mendoza wineries. We were then in need of food and were delighted by the local tasting menu which was paired with their best wines. It was a beautiful day and we had a great spot on the terrace overlooking the vineyards.
The following day we had an early start heading North to Colomé winery. The route led through the scenic Calchiquies valley on dirt road between steep canyon walls. Once arrived we were greeted by the staff and joined a tour through the experiential art installations of James Turrell. The Swiss owner of the winery is a big admirer and has dedicated an entire museum to the artist. After the visit we were welcomed by Randell Johnson, manager of the wineries in Napa Valley. We enjoyed a mostly liquid lunch tasting seven different bottle of wines – one of which hasn’t even been bottled yet. Colomé stands out with its high altitude wines – owning vineyards in 3100meters altitude – and a focus on high quality. Back in the car we headed towards Cachi – a sleepy, charming village with nice hotel and restaurant offer – nestled between mountains and desert. We stayed in a former monastery that was converted into a hotel/restaurant.
After a quick stopover in Salta we headed back to Cordoba via Rio Hondos to catch our plane to Buenos Aires. Like almost every day we grabbed some yummy empanadas from local panaderias or markets – they are cheap and really yum!
- Cordoba rent a car – reliable and fair prices
- El Zorro Gris Tinogasta B&B
- Cachi La Merced del Alto Hotel – historic building, pool, spa and restaurant
- Altos de Balcarce Hotel Salta, well located in the bar and restaurant street. Incl free underground parking
- Cafayate – Piatteli winery tour/tasting/lunch. Brewery at plaza also serves a dozen empanadas (you can pick which types). Pacha restaurant – yummy food, higher prices but worth it. Bad brothers wine – amazing location, food was very average.
- Colomé winery – call in advance to book tour and visit. Small lunch menu with salads, sandwiches and steak. Benjamin Massy worked there in 2009.