(September 27 – written by Nancy)
We started out today from Coronel Moldes with all good intentions to take it easy today and camp somewhere around the 80k mark. Well, as you can see from the title of the blog, we ended up going all the way to Cafayate. So, no camping yet again – for sure we will be camping once we leave Cafayate though…
We didn’t make the decision to ride all the way until later in the day, so the early part of the day we took our time and enjoyed the views of Argentina farmlands as we made our way around the Cabra Corral lake (reservoir, really).
Then we entered the Quebrada de las Conchas, a natural reserve that covers another stunning gorge or canyon full of all kinds of great rock formations. The road was a gentle climb most of the day, with a few sharp spikes to remind us how heavy our bikes are. We had thought it was going to be a fairly deserted road but there were actually quite a few little villages and stores along the way. We stopped for a cold drink in the small town of La Viña and then made another stop at a little store (shack, really) in the middle of nowhere where we got an icy cold bottle of apple juice to share.
We reached the famous rock formation Garganta del Diablo (or throat of the devil) about 2:30 or so. We had read that you could camp here or at a spot across the road and closer to the river. It was very hot and windy and there was little to no shade at the main site. There was, however, a crew that was just breaking down a mobile restaurant that had been serving lunch to a group of folks who we had seen driving by in vintage cars. They offered us plates of leftover paella – well, who could refuse that?! Dave went to check out potential camping areas across the road, and came back to say that the options were few – nothing very flat nor close to the water, and not much shade on that side of the road either.
At that point it was pretty hot and windy, and with the camping opportunities looking dim, Dave suggested we just ride the remaining 50k or so to Cafayate. So, after a walk up into the ‘throat’ to see the views we left there about 3:00 and continued our way through the gorge, thankfully with mostly a tailwind behind us. Lots of great views again as we made our way to the other end of the reserve. Beautiful country around here, but it does feel strange to have to take into account the afternoon heat again, after so many months of being cold!
As we hit the last 10k before town we started to see vineyards and nice-looking cellar door buildings. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop as we needed to get to town to find someplace to stay. We finally rolled into town about 5pm and made our way to the town square, where we found an ice cream shop to first stave off the hunger while we looked at the accommodation options. There appear to be tons of hostels here – almost too many to choose from. We wandered around a bit, checked out a few and ended up in Hostal Kallpa, a fairly new hostel a couple of streets off the main park area. I am sure there are probably cheaper ones but we were getting very tired and this one seems quite nice.
After cleaning up (nice hot shower) we went around the corner to a great tapas bar for a nice glass of wine (Malbec, of course) and some good food. And now it its way past bedtime and I can no longer keep my eyes open so enough for this evening. Tomorrow we are taking the day off to explore Cafayate and do a bit of wine tasting. Dave will tell you more about that tomorrow, I am sure.