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CAFAYATE

SALTA

ARGENTINA

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SALTA

CAFAYATE

In the central zone of the Valle de Calchaquí Valley, were nature has decreed the valley to widen up, appears a town guarded by an impressive mountainous frame, flanked by the colourful Santa María and Calchaquí Rivers, and surrounded by vineyards. Its name is Cafayate.

In pre-Hispanic times, both Cafayate and Tolombón were the home to huge numbers of indigenous native people. And to "save their souls", missions of the Jesuit and Franciscan orders settled there before and after the Calchaquíes Wars.

At the end of the 18th century, the mission of Cafayate became dependant of the vice-parish of San Carlos and in the year of 1808 the priest of the former ordered the construction of a small chapel on the same spot where the Municipality now stands.

The land were that small chapel was built was the property of Doña Josefa Antonia Frías de Aramburú, who in 1828 donated them for the construction of the town, which started 12 years later.

It was Fernando de Aramburú who officially founded the town of Cafayate in the year 1840. With well traced streets and one-story houses that present a style that ranges between Colonial and Baroque of the late 19th century. The Main Square, central, ample and well planted with trees and bushes, is surrounded to the West by the Town Hall and the Cathedral, this last one a magnificent building from Colonial times, holding five naves and preserving very antique and valuable imagery.

The road to Cafayate, across the Ravine of Las Conchas is one of the main tourist attractions of the Province. The impressive polychrome landscape and the interesting geological and cultural history have turned this trip into a classic.

A recent archaeological investigation in the ravine has unearthed a beautiful section of an Inca road, located at only few metres off the National Route Nº 68.

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SALTA - ARGENTINA
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* Northeast Circuit
* West Andean
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* Southeast Circuit
* Valleys Circuit
- Angastaco
- Animana
- Cachi
- Cafayate
- Chicoana
- Coronel Moldes
- Dique de
Cabra Corral

- La Poma
- Brealitos Lake
- Molinos
- Los Cardones
National Park

- San Carlos
- Seclantas
It is undoubtedly another attraction for the pleasure of the tourist who likes to experience and see this ancient road at a close range. The Spanish conquerors, as well as scholars and travellers have always been amazed at its sight throughout the centuries.

In the surroundings of the town are a number of sand dunes, small white sandy mounds composed by ores of calcareous mica, that charm the visitor with their whimsical shapes sculpted by the wind, especially while strolling through them in moon light.

A belt of vineyards surrounds the Town. The cellars offer to the tourist some circuits around their fields, well washed down with glasses of good "torrontés" wine. It is also possible to taste some traditional foot trampled wines made by dozens of small old style producers. In Cafayate there are several wine cellars that can be visited for free, just to mention a few: Bodega La Rosa, Etchart y Domingo Hermanos, La Banda, Nanni, etc. and where it is possible, aside from getting to know the mostly artisan way of making these wines, to taste them at the foot of the barrel.

And so, a majestic ravine, sand dunes, a colonial church and the wine cellars become the elements that identify Cafayate

HOW TO GET THERE
It is located 183 kilometres to the South of the city of Salta, through National Route No 68, fully paved, although precaution is required during the rainy season. Cafayate rests at an altitude of 1660 m.a.s.l. The way to the town passes through Cerrillos, La Merced, El Carril, Coronel Moldes, arriving then to the impressive ravine of Las Conchas, that gives way to the sand dunes and the vineyards that cushion Cafayate. Another way is by the National Route No 40, which traces the 165 kilometres from Cachi to Cafayate

FESTIVITIES
In late January or early February, in Cafayate the Fiesta de la Serenata takes place, where youngsters from every corner of the province benefit with the occasion to mingle and enjoy the best folklore of the Country. The occasion can also be suitable to behold the typical "misachicos" and the curious outfits of the natives that proceed from the neighbouring mountains. Other well-attended festivities are the ones that take place during the "Holy Week" or Easter, and the feast in honour to the Virgen del Rosario Virgin, the local Patron Saint, and a 1740's image, which is kept in the Cathedral church.

CLIMATE
The Cafayate climate is generally mild and dry; rainfalls (distributed between December and March) do not exceed 250 mm yearly.

EXCURSIONS AND WALKS
There are plenty of places for camping in Cafayate, amongst them the Municipal Camping ground. Moreover, there are some pretty interesting circuits to tackle:

San Isidro (5 Km path)
This is a ranch in which surroundings there are some caverns with cave paintings, amongst which there is one called the "piedra grabada de los números" or stone engraved with numbers.

Tolombón (14 Km)
Locality in the valley of Santa María, with some vineyards and a regional wine cellar. The visitor might be interested in the close-by ruins of the pre Hispanic city of Tolombón, the remains are kept mainly covered by shrubbery and there are some stone walls signalling the shape of the rooms of the once existing fortress. They can be found three kilometres West of the town.

Quebrada del Río de Las Conchas Ravine (83 Km, down to Alemania)
The road that takes you to this place starting from Cafayate, goes through some scenery and sights like the striking Rio de las Conchas Ravine and Los Médanos, very fine grained sand formations that erosion has chiselled into the mountain side, and to which the popular ingenuity has given names like Los Castillos (the Castles), El Obelisco (the Obelisk), El Fraile (the Monk), El Sapo (the Frog), El Anfiteatro (the Amphitheatre) etc.

The Las Conchas Ravine ends in Alemania, where we will find the last station of a branch of the Belgrano Railway Train that runs across the valley of Lerma starting from Salta, and heading South. Nevertheless, many travellers decide to go forward to La Viña and the beautiful valley of Guachipas, 21 kilometres away. From there, at 46 kilometres, in the proximity of Las Juntas, we'll find the Cuevas Pintadas de Guachipas Painted Caves, a Historical Monument representing the Cave painting art of the Santa Maria Culture.

Molinos (116 Km)
Village in the Calchaquí Valley that is very attractive due to its historical parish church built in 1659. Another of the relics found in the surroundings of Cafayate is a 350-year-old Jesuit mill that is still at work. It can be reached at six kilometres from the most illustrious town of the Valley. It is capable of grinding up to 200 kilos of grain by shift, in three different qualities of grind.

Two round stones of a metre in diameter each form the structure of the mill. One stays put and the other turns around its axis. It bears also an iron structure of palettes replacing the one originally made in wood that rests below the stones. It obtains its rotating impulse from falling water, which, coming through a stone canal, falls into and pushes the blades and thus impels the mobile stone.

 


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