We had an early start with a 2-leg flight to Salta from La Paz stopping off at San Juan. But after sleeping on the plane we were refreshed and ready to hit the town of Salta. Our first stop after checking in was the highly rated archaeological museum which housed Incan toys and handicrafts and also included a 500+ year old perfectly preserved mummy of a small boy that was discovered in a mountain west of Salta at an elevation of more than 6000m. His hair, skin and even fingernails were so well preservered that it looked like he only died yesterday.
The next day we (Ann) had organised a tour to see the rainbow mountains. We were pleasantly surprised to have a bilingual guide named Jeremy who was more than happy to generously perform the tour to the group in Spanish and privately to us in English.
The drive took us to the northern portion of the Salta region which is also famous for its salt flats and housing a large supply of lithium which they claim will be a commodity rivalling gold in value due to its high demand for batteries. We stopped off in the town of Jujuy where we were afforded our first glimpse of the colourful mountains. All around us the mountains were like paintings, with the most vivid shades of orange, brown, green and grey. We were told that the mountains came to be like this from thousands of years of oxidation of different minerals (iron, sulphur and limestone) found in the mountains.
After some quick photos we were back on the bus and on our way to Humahuaca where we had a local guide take us around town. We were told that during Carnivale festivities the men and women would line up in separate streets that converged together. One by one the men and women would meet at the intersection and be paired off, their partner in crime for the entire 9 days of Carnivale (i.e. they would do everything together for the entire festival). We were explained that Carnivale was the Latin version of Vegas; where the local custom was to place a basil leaf on your left ear if you are single and ready to party and on your right ear if you are married and ready to party.
The last stop of the tour was the town of tilcara. We were told stories of gauchos (Latin cowboys) who we pivotal in the victory during the Argentinian war of independence. The most bizarre of tales involved them styling and dressing up cactuses to resemble soldiers to make their army appear much larger. This actual worked causing the opponent to feel outnumbered and avoid a war.
Our time in Salta was lovely and a photographers dream. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this being the next holiday hotspot for hot air ballooning as the landscape needs to be visited to be truly appreciated.
Till next time
Jason and Ann