So after a 6 hour bus ride from San Ignacio to Resistencia (Rio Uruguay, 188 pesos / $37.70aud), a 5 hour wait in Resistencia bus station and a 13 hour overnight bus (Flecha Bus, 441 pesos / $88.50aud) We finally arrived on the other side of Argentina in Salta, or Salta La Linda (Salta the beautiful) as it is often called due to its picturesque colonial architecture and surrounding scenery.
We arrived at 10.30am and because all we could think about was a good shower and a place to put down our bags we took the easy option and opted for one of the many accommodation options offered from sales people at the bus stop. They approach you with their maps and photo albums to get a better idea of rooms and you can actually get pretty good prices with them, they will even usually shout you the taxi ride. We ended up at Backpackers Suites in down town Salta only 4 blocks or so from the main plaza. It was nice enough, clean and cheap at only 250 pesos/$50aud for the four of us in our own 2 bedroom dorm with bathroom, and outdoor area to hang clothes, including breakfast.
But we were planning Salta to be our base for the next week and wanted a somewhere where we could relax a bit more and have a bit more space to ourselves, so continued to look for accommodation elsewhere after the first night. This was easier said than done and we wished we had pre booked something earlier… We hadn’t realised it but we had arrived right in the middle of a week long religious celebration in Salta ‘La Virgen del Milagro’ (The Virgen of the Miracle) and the town was buzzing with people who had made the pilgrimage from nearby and faraway towns around argentina by foot, bike, horse and car from kilometres away. Throughout the night we heard car horns, singing and music from everyone who was entering the town which although was noisy, was amazing to experience how much faith these people had to come so far!
The story of the Virgen del Milagros goes briefly, that in 1592 two large crates were seen floating of the coast of Peru, near Callao. Nobody knew what boat they came from but written on the crates were instructions to deliver the first box to Cordoba and the second to the City of Salta and so the second box was taken 2800km along the old inca trail and arrived safely in Salta City where they uncovered a statue the ‘Virgin del Milagros’ as it is known today and placed it in the Main Church.
100 years later on the 13th September 1692 a great earthquake hit Salta and its surrounding area, after this earthquake the priest found the statue of the Virgin on the floor and at the feet of Christ as though praying. One of the fathers of the church heard a clear voice tell him that if the Virgin was not bought forth the earthquakes would not cease. The next day, the 14th September the statue was placed outside the main church where everyone worshipped the Virgin. The next day the 15th the earth stopped shaking and on the 16th there was calm. And every year from that day they have practiced taking the virgin out for the people to worship.
So early September can be a great time to visit Salta, with all the people about, traditions, music, colours and events but just make sure you book accommodation plenty in advance if you want to enjoy it comfortably.
For our second night and the few nights folowing that we found a Beautiful little B&B Poncho Huasi, 20 minutes by bus from the City of Salta in the little town of Cerrillos. The Bed and breakfast consists of 4 rooms a huge dining/ living area and a nice backyard area which even includes a pool. Although we still didn’t have our own kitchenette it was still a nice change to the hostel. Owned by a Alicia who is a local from Salta and Nick who is from England they had a heap of local knowledge on the best places to visit and how to get around via bus.
Places to go things to see…
Teleferico | Cable Car
Rise above the city to the top of Cerro San Bernardo for a great view. This is a great visit, especially on one of Salta’s frequent hot days… It is only $30 pesos/$6 aud per person to take the return ride by cable car or if you’re feeling sporty you could also take a walk up the hill. When its a hot day, rising above the city is like entering an oasis! The air is cooler, you are surrounded by water fountains and the grass is lush with plenty of flowers. Even if it is a cold day, it is great to take the trip up just to see the view of how big the city of Salta truly is, something you can’t quite appreciate on the ground.
If you are at all interested in the ancient inca or just want to see some well preserved mummies, this is the museum. Here they hold some great artefacts and 3 mummified children which had been sacrificed on top of the nearby mountain Llullaillaco. Amazingly preserved due to dry atmosphere and high altitude, it’s amazing to see the fine details of all hair and clothing in contact. They only display 1 child at a time, last time we saw the Niña del rayo and this time El Niño. You can also view the small leather sandals, metal statuettes and materials that were buried along with them.
Another option if you are getting a bit tired of the city is to take a few day trips out to the surrounding areas. You can visit the wine area of cafayate which we did and will be in another post, we actually wished we had stayed here a night or two and not just made it a day trip. There is the Train of the clouds which you can either visit to look at the massive bridge or be dropped of and take the tour on the train, it is quite expensive though at 800 pesos each. There are also day trips available to nearby Cachi, the Quilmes ruins, Pumamarka and the Salinas grandes. For the more further away trips and if you are not pressed for time, some times it is a better option to take a one way trip and stay the night otherwise there are very early starts and late finishes and depending on the schedule some things may be rushed. For the excursions we did we went with the company Salta Connection which we were mainly very happy with. We were 4 people and had a 4wd all to ourselves with driver/guide. On the cafayate trip our driver/guide Ramiro was great, informative, flexible if we wanted to stop for pics but also kept on a good schedule so that we didn’t miss anything. this was 200 pesos/ $40.50aud each for the whole day 7.30-7pm and he picks you up and drops you of form your accommodation. For our trip to Pumamarka however the driver/guide Louis was a little less friendly, with a big wad of coca leaves stuck in his cheek the whole day he even asked us if we wanted to take an alternative route which was supposed to be more picturesque but wasn’t, then he asked us for petrol money for the extra km, something he had never mentioned at the beginning. All depends on who you get as a driver I think, so ask for the best.