I picked up my rental car on Friday evening in order to make an early start for the three hour drive. I figured that there would be less traffic, less tourists visiting the rock formations (Quebrada de kas Conchas) on the way, and with a low rising sun behind me I would see the landscape at its best.
I set up Google satnav to get me out of town and onto Ruta 68 was on the road in the dark at 6.15. My cell phone started giving me instructions through the town. I passed laden backpackers already waiting for their collectivo and others making their way to work and finally small groups of scantily clad ladies already at work, on the street!!
Once on Ruta 68 it was a breeze…little traffic and beautiful scenery. First along the valley floor and then the climb as the country changed from forest to shrubs and finally to the moonscape above the tree line.
On the way I saw a gaucho clad man as I passed through a village and roaming goats on the road. I was right about the sun behind me as it threw early morning shadows on the mountains which picked out natures etching. Ir is difficult to put into words what an amazing drive it was and for periods of ten to fifteen minutes, I didn’t see another.
After just over a couple of hours I arrived at my first stop, garganta del diablo (the devil’s throat).
A few mikes further down the road was my next stop, the anfiteatro. This huge cavern cut by the rio de las conchas in a time gone by created an amphitheatre effect as a couple of other visitors who starting singing.
The final part of the drive down through the mountain range into the Cafayate plain, host to its vineyards. And finally into Cafayate itself where I parked on the main sqaure and sought out a breakfast of medialunas (small croissants) and coffee.